Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sand & Summer at Kosi

The people in Kosi region had witnessed and endured the flood, its aftermath, chilling & damp winter & now scorching sun.

Till about a month back, many families still had hope that things would be normal soon, and courageously hung on with hope & desperation.

Hope has evaporated into the scorching heat & now they are desperate to get away from this Kosi region, their home-their hope.

There was a long queue at Saharsa railway station. It was more than half a kilometer long when we were there last week.

Hundreds & hundreds of people, mostly young or fit enough to travel, mainly men, were waiting for their turn to buy the ticket that is their only hope of surviving or helping their family survive.

They are waiting to buy ticket for travelling to Punjab on Jan shakti Express. This train runs up to Jalandher. Almost everyone is going there.

We had not seen anything like this, except during the initial phase of flood in August- sep 2008 when a lot of people had migrated out in search of livelihood.

Why now? Especially, after they endured harsh conditions in hellish conditions through these last 7 months.

The answer can be seen at the places where the Kosi flowed during the flood last year.

At places where there were lush green fields last year, now there is only sand. Only Sand.

For miles around, there is nothing but sand, loads of it.. dancing in the hot, dry summer winds.

Right from Birpur Basantpur region, east of Birpur court colony, the landscape changes drastically. Here, near Birpur one can see a thin river flowing down’s the Kosi river flowing on its old route..

Travelling to Parmanandpur, Mohanpur, Balbhadrapur, Bisanpur..etc, you cannot ignore the over whelming presence of sand on fringes of horizon.

As you cross the embankment and get in the old (flood ) area, all you see is an ocean of sand, and as we found out later, it is very important to follow some path or have a knowledgeable local person with you, it is easy to get lost..there was no landmark to orient ourselves about one Km downstream.

There is no mode of transport, you have to drag a cycle, mo bikes can’t go in the sand fields; only way of carrying supplies is to physically carry them.

Most of the farmlands down from Birpur towards south & east are in the same condition. This trend decreases as you move further down towards Kumarkhund.

One very obvious problem is identifying the farm borders as there is nothing left to relate its position. In many places, landlords cannot say where their farm starts or ends.

These fields are rendered useless for a minimum of 5-6 years; some farmers say that even if they stay back, what they will do here...There is absolutely nothing that can get them restarted.

The bridge on Bhavanipur - Balua route had collapsed during the flood, and a “Pipa pul” had been constructed there…this saved a lot of trouble getting to Birpur.

Unfortunately, even the Pipa Pul collapsed last week. We were stranded for a long time..& after

We came to know about the cause, we came to Saharsa & took the train t0 Patna. It was here that we witnessed so many people going to Punjab.

We were able to deliver books, clothes & medicines to volunteers, but could not deliver all the materials after our vehicle got stranded near Bishnupur due to collapsed bridge.

It evoked mixed feelings while crossing places where we had been during the flood, amidst a sea of water; now, the same places reveal the scars & sand kosi left behind. It’s difficult to compare which condition was worse, flooded by water or flooded by sand.
..and now-

Having written all these not so positive observations, some slightly better informations;

there are always people who give you hope & encouragement by their selfless & sustained work.

One of them is Ms Shyamala Rao, from Maanav Utkarsh Samiti, Maharastra. She has been working here all through these seven months. Earlier placed at Bhagalpur, they are now working from Forbasegunj.

They are running Adultl iteracy classes, and are about to finish training 60 women for agarbatti manufacturing.This is the first batch.

They need help in form of medicines, clothes, books & other such material needed for community developement, livelyhood training, child & women health and adult literacy.

The contact details are:

1st floor,
Opp.Kosi gramin bank,
Manikchand road,

The ph no is; +919471676979

Shyamala Rao,
Maanav Utkarsh Samiti

Another group who have been working here all through till now is AMURT.

Acharya Kisan Sood is working in Bihar flood relief, & amongst the various works undertaken by them was the cremation of dead bodies & animal carcases.

They are presently running schools & child health centers at;

Bali Village of Shrinagar Panchayat in Gerada Block of Madhepura dist

Phulkaha village in Madhepura dist. This is a old primary school with 70 children. Its hostel has 11 children.

Primary school has been started with 79 children since 26th Jan. '09 in Sakrecha Panchayat of Punpun block

School is being planned in Madhepura town. & Supaul's Pratapganj block from July'09

Children home for girls is running here in Patna in Mainpura & home for boys at Patna is planned to be started by July '09 .

Email; (Ac. Kishan Sood)

A lot of people wanted to sponser child education, they can contact Acharya Ji or contact me for any details regarding these two agencies.

Thanks & regards,