Greetings, to all our supporters, from Bihar India The flowing article illustrates the many complex issues around development in the flood affected area.
DISPLACEMENT OF COMMUNITIES FOR NEW BRIDGE
Disregarding massive humanitarian losses like some 50 lively villages already swallowed by the mighty Kosi river’s waters and the displacement of over 75,000 people, a mega road bridge across the river in Bihar was inaugurated amid fanfare and protests on Wednesday, restoring a vital link ruined 78 years ago.
For Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who, as the railway minister then, had laid the foundation stone for the Kosi Mahasetu, along with then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in June 2003, completion of the 1.8-km bridge in the northern Supaul district was of “unspeakable happiness”. Inaugurating the bridge along with Union road transport and highways minister C.P. Joshi, Mr Kumar asked people in flood-prone northern Bihar to “celebrate and congratulate one another” even as hundreds of displaced villagers and activists waved black flags in protest.
A bridge of bountiful blessings and predictable bane, the project executed by NHAI and Gammon India has baffled river engineers and social activists in Bihar as much as it has blighted the peace of over one hundred thousand people in 64 villages. Completed in four years and nine months, the saving grace of this `418-crore project at Nirmali, part of the East-West Corridor, is that it will restore direct territorial and cultural links between Bihar’s Mithilanchal and Seemanchal regions that had collapsed in 1934, when a devastating earthquake pulled down a railway bridge.
Absence of rehabilitation facilities for a majority of the displaced people and the looming danger to about 380 fertile, three-crop villages, both upstream and downstream, due to the forcible squeezing of the Kosi’s traditionally expansive width into just 1.8 km have propelled a public protest movement for years. With the bridge finally open for use in its disputed shape and size, it public frustration is expected to turn into anger.
“The displaced people approached all authorities concerned, from the state government to the NHAI, the railways, the Ganga Flood Control Commission, but no remedial action on the bridge and measures for rehabilitation were taken,” said Narayan Jee Choudhary of Mithila Gram Vikas Parishad, an NGO at the forefront of the movement. Satyanarayan Prasad, a leader of the displaced villagers, said the affected people were feeling “acutely hopeless and angry, but not defeated”
Source Press Report.
As we continue to work at Grass roots level, as one villager put it, “the assistance and support I received in immediate help with practical things like mosquito nets and blankets and later strengthening and repairing my house and replacement of animals lost made all the difference to my family and I”
However the nature of this appeal is disaster relief and therefore time limited. We shall continue the appeal closely monitoring the situation in the coming monsoon . Unfortunately lives are lost every year but since the terrible floods strengthened embankments and other major construction have hopefully eased the problem. We feel with our help we have achieved an enormous amount with your help but given our available resources it is likely we shall close the appeal in September. However this will depend on the nature of the rains this year. Please help us reach our target.