All gates of Koshi Barrage opened as water levels reach alarming levels

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The barrage recorded the water flow at 462, 395 cusecs at 3am on Sunday, prompting authorities to open the doors.

All 56 floodgates of the Koshi barrage have been opened after the flow of water in the Saptakoshi River reached alarming levels on Monday.

The water level reached the danger level following continuous rainfall, prompting authorities to open the doors. Traffic was limited over the barrage along the East-West highway.

The water flow has since decreased.

The barrage recorded the water flow at 462,395 cusecs at 3am on Sunday. The water flow at 8am on Monday had decreased to 439,315 cusecs.

Despite alarming water levels, the dam’s infrastructure and the river embankment have not suffered major damages, police said.

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Bihar: Record Water Discharge Floods Villages Within Koshi Embankments, Creates Panic

Patna: Hundreds of villages nestled within the embankments of Bihar’s Koshi river in Supaul district experienced a sudden shift from fear to reality on Monday as floodwaters inundated their homes. The deluge followed a record discharge of water from the barrage into the Koshi River, prompting distressed farmers and impoverished workers to flee their residences for higher ground.

While flooding is not unfamiliar to the villagers living within the Koshi embankments, the scale of this record discharge has given rise to panic among the communities.

A state disaster management department official in Supaul told NewsClick that floodwaters had breached dozens of villages, rapidly expanding into new areas and posing the threat of submerging vast low-lying regions. The district administration remains on high alert, urging residents to remain vigilant and relocate to safer zones in anticipation of rising floodwaters.

Bihar’s Water Resources Minister, Sanjay Kumar Jha, took to Twitter (now renamed X) to convey that an unprecedented 4.62 lakh cusecs of water were released from the Koshi barrage into the river.

This extraordinary discharge is anticipated to elevate water levels in the Koshi River. Water resources department officials and engineers are maintaining continuous vigilance over the embankments.

Although Koshi Barrage is situated in Birpur, Nepal, its management and maintenance fall under the jurisdiction of Bihar’s Water Resources Department (WRD).

As per water resources department officials, all 56 sluice gates of the Koshi barrage were opened due to the alarming surge in water levels. Subsequently, the water discharge was reduced to 3.65 lakh cusecs by noon on Tuesday.

Heavy rainfall in the river’s catchment area, coupled with similar conditions in neighbouring Nepal over the past few days, led to the escalated water levels in the Koshi barrage. Supaul District Magistrate, Kaushal Kumar, highlighted that the recent discharge of water from the barrage into the Koshi River marked a record for this year. The release took place on early Tuesday, between 2 am and 4 am. This discharge magnitude is the highest since 1989, according to official data.

“We have notified all Mukhiyas (village leaders) to stay vigilant and have requested vulnerable residents within the embankments to relocate to safer grounds,” Kumar informed NewsClick. He further assured that both the eastern and western Koshi embankments were secure.

Mahendar Yadav, founder-convener of Kosi Nav Nirman Manch, emphasised the need for government intervention in light of the abrupt water discharge into the Koshi River, which has adversely affected thousands living within the embankments. Yadav called for relief and rehabilitation measures for these flood-impacted individuals.

Yadav shed light on the plight of those residing within the embankments, who remain largely unknown to outsiders. They endure yearly damage and devastation brought on by floods, erosion, and displacement, which disproportionately impact their lives.

The Koshi River, often dubbed the ‘Sorrow of Bihar,’ inflicts devastating floods and substantial damage each year. Its unstable course, exacerbated by heavy monsoon silt, has earned it this moniker. Notably, the river’s eastern embankment suffered a breach in 2008, leading to catastrophic flooding across five northern Bihar districts and affecting millions.

Even during the previous year’s monsoon, the Koshi River continued to wreak havoc across large parts of the state. Its meandering path stretches 205 km in Bihar before merging with the Ganges near Kursela, in Katihar district.