Land and livelihood in Bihar’s West Champaran have been destroyed by continuous floods aggravated by illegal sand mining. Flood affected families are yet to receive rehabilitation.
The Tharu tribe, a 1700 strong community living at the foothills of the Indo-Nepal border, know that floods will wreck their homes every year. “The flood came at 10 pm and swept our houses and grains, says a resident of Pirari village in Bihar’s West Champaran district. The village is one of the many low-lying villages in the flood-prone Valmikinagar barrage area. Erratic rains and floods in the area make it impossible for residents to commute from one village to another. What worries the Tharu most are the increasing flash floods, even in non-monsoon months.
Excessive sand mining in different parts of the district is worsening the situation, causing the streams and rivers to flood along the banks. Government mechanisms to regulate and keep illegal sand mining in check however, still remain weak. According to the last report available from 2016, 19000 cases of illegal mining of minor minerals, including sand, have been reported.
As sand mining continues, it is the communities living in low lying areas who suffer. “Earlier we use to go but now because of this soil erosion, our movement is hampered. We are not able to eat and drink properly. We carry out discussions in our women’s meeting that the government should provide us with a temporary residence,” says Musma Santania, resident of the village. Another member of the community raises more concerns about the flood relief compensation. “We only got rice and pulses to eat, but no monetary compensation was given by the government,” he says.
Community Correspondent Tanju, along with the residents of the community filed a written application seeking rehabilitation to the Circle officer in July 2018. In a follow up conversation on the matter in January 2019, the Circle Officer said that “he has forwarded the application to higher authorities.”
Video by Community Correspondent Tanju Devi
Article by Grace Jolliffe