People return home after Bagmati breach is plugged


Patna : Hundreds of people in Bihar’s Sitamarhi district, who fled their homes after the Bagmati river breached an embankment Saturday, have started to return after it was repaired, state Disaster Management Minister Devesh Chandra Thakur said Thursday.

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“A large number of villagers, who took shelter on embankments, are returning to their homes after floodwaters started receding following plugging of the breach,” he said.

The swollen river breached over a 100-feet stretch of the embankment at Tilaktajpur under Runnisaidpur block in Sitamarhi Saturday.

Divisional Commissioner of Tirhut S.M. Raju said Thursday that plugging of the breach was completed on a war footing. After the embankment was repaired, the district authorities have been asked to intensify relief operations in the affected areas.

Nearly 200 villages were flooded and over 200,000 people affected after the river breached its embankment. Reports said hundreds of displaced people had been living under the open skies without food or drinking water.

Raju said that a probe is on to know the reason for the breach. Till last Friday, the district administration and engineers had claimed that there was no threat to the embankment from the rising water level in the Bagmati river. According to official sources, the embankment was repaired and strengthened last year.

However, villagers claim they had informed officials about a six-inch wide hole in the embankment, but no move was initiated to repair it. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has promised stern action against erring officials.

More than three million people were rendered homeless when the Kosi river nearby breached its bank upstream in Nepal and changed course August 2008, flooding large tracts of land.