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We talked with Palash Biswas, an editor for Indian Express in Kolkata today also. He urged that there must a transnational disaster management mechanism to avert such scale disaster in the Himalayas.




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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Curse of Kosi: Man Made Calamities and Disaster Management

Curse of Kosi: Man Made Calamities and Disaster Management

Troubled Galaxy Destroyed Dreams: Chapter 56

Palash Biswas

Bihar floods: A man-made disaster

The devastating floods in Bihar, caused by a breach in the Kosi barrage, have left many dead and more than 30 lakhs displaced. But the extent of the floods could have been lessened had the administration been alert to the impending tragedy..
Koshi River
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The Kosi River, called Koshi in Nepal (Nepali: कोशी नदी), is a transboundary river between Nepal and India, and is one of the largest tributaries of the Ganga. The river, along with its tributaries, drains a total area of 69,300 km2 (26,800 sq mi) up to its confluence with the Ganga in India (29,400 km2/11,400 sq mi in China, 30,700 km2/11,900 sq mi in Nepal and 9,200 km2/3,600 sq mi in India). The watershed also includes part of Tibet, such as the Mount Everest region, and the eastern third of Nepal. The river basin is surrounded by the ridges separating it from the Brahmaputra in the north, the Gandaki in the west, the Mahananda in the east, and by the Ganga in the south. The river is joined by major tributaries, approximately 48 km (30 mi) north of the Indo-Nepal border, breaking into more than twelve distinct channels with shifting courses due to flooding.[1][2] Kamlā, Bāghmati (Kareh) and Budhi Gandak are major tributaries of Koshi in India, besides minor tributaries like Bhutahi Balān.[3][4] Over the last 250 years, the Kosi River has shifted its course over 120 kilometres (75 mi) from east to west.[5] and the unstable nature of the river is attributed to the heavy silt which it carries during the monsoon season. Flooding in India has extreme effects. India is second in the world after Bangladesh in deaths due to flooding, accounting for one fifth of global flooding deaths. The Kosi River (The Sorrow of Bihar) is one of two major tributaries, the other river being Gandak, draining the plains of north Bihar, the most flood-prone area of India[6]

BBC News Army Engineers to help repair barrage on Kosi
SINDH TODAY, Pakistan - 2 hours ago
‘Regarding the repair of the Bheem Barrage on river Kosi where the breach took place, the Centre has offered the help of Army Engineers and the BRO,’ said ...
Bihar govt's negligent attitude responsible for floods: Minister Business Standard
SC declines hearing on PIL for repair of Kosi river embankment
Indian flood victims hunker down in camps International Herald Tribune
Reuters -
all 1,921 news articles »

TopNews Don't blame Nepal but Bihar govt for flood: Lalu
Economic Times, India - 47 minutes ago
In the backdrop of media reports that Nepal released thousands of cusecs of water in Kosi, he said it was the state's unpreparedness to tackle the flood ...
Kosi will become an election issue: Lalu Zee News
CM asks Lalu not to demoralize officials Times of India
Lalu prays to Kosi to curb its destructive powers
The Statesman - Press Trust of India
all 193 news articles »

Chipko movement
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Villagers surrounding a tree to stop them from being felled
The Chipko movement (literally "to stick" in Hindi) was a group of female peasants in the Uttaranchal region of India who acted to prevent the cutting of trees and reclaim their traditional forest rights that were threatened by the contractor system of the state Forest Department. The movement began in Chamoli district in 1973 and spread throughout the Uttaranchal Himalayas by the end of the decade. In Tehri district, Chipko activists would go on to protest limestone mining in the Dehra Dun hills in the 1980s as well as the Tehri dam, before founding the Beej Bachao Andolan or Save the Seeds movement that continues to the present day. In Kumaon region, Chipko took on a more radical hue, combining with the general movement for a separate Uttaranchal state.[1]

One of Chipko's most salient features was the mass participation of women villagers.[2] As the backbone of Uttaranchal's agrarian economy, women were most directly affected by environmental degradation and deforestation, and thus connected the issues most easily. How much this participation impacted or derived from the ideology of Chipko, has been fiercely debated in academic circles.[3] Despite this, both female and male activists did play pivotal roles in the movement including Gaura Devi, Sudesha Devi, Bachni Devi, Chandi Prasad Bhatt, Sundarlal Bahuguna, Govind Singh Rawat, Dhoom Singh Negi and Shamsher Singh Bisht.

Kosi's tragedy: Blunder after blunder

Himanshu Thakkar
September 01, 2008
The Kosi river basin in Bihar is facing its biggest ever flood disaster ever, and that disaster has come about completely due to the neglect of the Government of India and the government of Bihar. It is a manmade disaster which could have been avoided.
Amidst the din of 'national calamity, catastrophe and river changing course', about two million people are facing forced submergence and displacement. The governments of India and Bihar are going about the relief work as if it is a favour they are doing for the people. That favour is being doled out in a totally haphazard, unplanned, callous way.

For immediate relief it is important that those being brought out from the waterlogged areas be given cooked food for at least two days. There should be planned settlements for such people, with arrangements for shelter, fuel, fodder, medicines, hygiene etc, as they are likely to have to stay at these places for up to two months. The affected people need not be considered as victims as is the case now, but should be involved in the whole exercise. Two million people cannot be resettled by outsiders. And in the comparatively lax law and order situation of Bihar, the responsibility of the state and the Centre increases considerably in ensuring dignified relief and resettlement.

In this effort, another very important aspect seems to be totally ignored. Most (about 85 per cent) of the 1.5 lakh cusecs (cubic feet per second) of Kosi water is flowing through the breach in the embankment that started with a small, few metres-wide breach on the eastern side, 12.9 km upstream of the barrage in the afternoon of August 18. This water is flowing through three of the 15 old streams of the Kosi river, namely Sursar, Mirchaiya and Belhi, says Dinesh Kumar Mishra, possibly the most well-informed person in India on Bihar floods, from his camp at Khagaria. This water is entering an area that does not have the capacity drain so much water

The Centre has accused Nitish Kumar government of not sending a scheme for works to be executed on the damaged dams on the Nepal section of the Kosi river. But t The Centre has assured all possible assistance to the Bihar government in the wake of the ongoing flood relief and rescue operations and a high level Central team has offered the help of Army engineers and the Border Roads Organisation for repair of the Bheem barrage on river Kosi where the breach took place.

Too late!

Ex chief minister of Bihar, the high profile railway Minister of India also sheds crocodile Tears in sympathy and vomits venom against the government of Bihar! As if the center has no responsibility at all.

In Bengal, People may remember the words of the Fire Brand Opposition Leader Ms Mamata Bannerjee that Floods in Bengal are Man Made!

Given the fact the Kosi has a track record of flowing in excess of 9 lakh cusecs, the Bihar government is indeed worried that a monumental effort will have to be put in to rescue the people. “We will have to rescue more than 10 lakh people in relief camps. And we will have to keep them for more than 6 months as it will take time to plug the breach. More significantly, the flow of the Kosi will have to shift to its original course and all this will take time,” the chief minister said.

At least 5 districts of North Bihar including Supaul and Madhepura are in the spate of Kosi river following the breach in its eastern afflux embankment at Kusaha in Nepal . The breach was caused on 18 August but the breach ever since has been widening under the pressure of the turbulent Kosi.. Obviously, the river has opened a new channel and meandering on a course with the potential to cause incalculable damage to human population.

Meanwhile, The flood situation in Assam continued to be critical on Wednesday with Brahmaputra river and its tributaries creating havoc in the state, claiming 15 lives and rendering several thousands homeless. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi accompanied by senior officials made an aerial survey of Majuli, Asia's largest river island, which submerged under the flood waters, official sources said on Wednesday.

It is just the beginning!

We are so habitual to see and bypass the calamities every year. UP, Bihar, Bengal, Assam and elsewhere, the Indigenous Communities have to face flood every year. The Capital of India is not spared also.

A lot of people say its God’s doing, but God is no more responsible for the destruction caused by earthquakes, flooding or tornados than a weatherman is responsible for the damage done by a typhoon that he forecasts. Many defenseless people live in harm’s way, in places where natural or man-made disasters are very likely to strike. Some disasters are at least partially man-made.
Take for example the residents of New Orleans, the hurricane that flooded the city, or the mudslides of Venezuela and others, natural things such as wind and rain turned deadly largely because of human environmental mistakes, shoddy engineering, flawed planning and unheeded warnings.
Can we blame God for that? Greedy humans must bear some of the blame for the calamities that people experience.

Every time the floods kill the Ingenious Communities and the majority people living under poverty Line!

The Human scape of Kosi Area is to be analysed to understand the phenomenon. Just for a clue, we may witness the Slums in Kolkata, New Delhi and Mumbai are always inundated! Yes, the Posh areas are also effected. But it is the marginal, poor and indigenous class which is devastated losing life, livelihood and production system.

Just understand the timing! It is Festival Time in India. Ramdan is underway. Puja Countdown has just begun. It has to be followed by Diwali and Ganapati utsav. This is shopping time and the indigenous communities are out of Market, out of production, out of livelihood. They have to be rescued. They have to be sheltered and fed on. It is the same chronology every year!

They brand it as Natural Calamity!

Is it?

Calamityis defined well.

An event that brings terrible loss, lasting distress, or severe affliction; a disaster: A hurricane would be a calamity for this low-lying coastal region!

Dire distress resulting from loss or tragedy!

Noun 1. calamity - an event resulting in great loss and misfortune; "the whole city was affected by the irremediable calamity"; "the earthquake was a disaster"
catastrophe, tragedy, cataclysm, disaster
misfortune, bad luck - unnecessary and unforeseen trouble resulting from an unfortunate event
act of God, force majeure, inevitable accident, unavoidable casualty, vis major - a natural and unavoidable catastrophe that interrupts the expected course of events; "he discovered that his house was not insured against acts of God"
apocalypse - a cosmic cataclysm in which God destroys the ruling powers of evil
famine - a severe shortage of food (as through crop failure) resulting in violent hunger and starvation and death
kiss of death - something that is ruinous; "if this were known it would be the kiss of death for my political career"
meltdown - a disaster comparable to a nuclear meltdown; "there is little likelihood of a meltdown comparable to the American banking collapse in March 1933"
plague - any large scale calamity (especially when thought to be sent by God)
visitation - any disaster or catastrophe; "a visitation of the plague"
tidal wave - an unusual (and often destructive) rise of water along the seashore caused by a storm or a combination of wind and high tide
tsunami - a cataclysm resulting from a destructive sea wave caused by an earthquake or volcanic eruption; "a colossal tsunami destroyed the Minoan civilization in minutes"

“Water shortage is one of the most pressing problems of the country as our resources are fast depleting. Besides, there is a large-scale pollution of water resources which needs to be checked. We must learn to keep our air, water and soil clean.” This was stated by environmentalist and Chipko Movement exponent Sunderlal Bahuguna at Guru Nanak Dev University during the Bhagat Puran Singh Memorial National Seminar, jointly organised by the All India Pingalwara Charitable Society and the University.
Bahuguna said adequate steps should be taken for recharging the groundwater. He also laid emphasis on checking the population explosion. “If steps are not taken to check the decreasing level of the water table, Punjab and other states would suffer,” said Bahuguna.

We know the rivers very well. We know the landscape. We know the Human scape.

It is quite Nonsense to blame the Nature!

Nature has it`s own law. Nature never breaks it`s laws! Day and Night, BIO Cycle, Weather and season, Eclipses, Tides .. everything continue mathematically accurate. So that NASA is capable to launch Space dominance Campaign. We may calculate the Time and Distance and we may get them accordingly. So we dream to colonise Moon and Mars!

Just take the Earth Quake prone Japan!

Just consider the cases of Hurricanes, Twister, Tornado in Americas!

How do they manage the Disaster there?

How do they execute Evacuation?

How do they successfully complete Rescue Operation ?

We have the Man Power.

We have the Technology!

We have the resources!

We have the Administrative network from Centre to the Panchayat!

We have also a system of Disaster management!

But everything fails!

I dare to claim that the failure is deliberate and it benefits the Ruling Hegemony and the market forces. Thus, the genuine attempt to address the calamities are absent every time!

We are so called civilised people who tend to disturb the Nature! We are safe in our heaven! Only the Poor and the Indigenous People have to encounter the Fury of nature!

Who created the Big dams?

Who are responsible for Deforestation all over the Himalayan region causing Land Slide and Avalanches, Floods and Disaster!

We addressed the issues during seventies with Chipko Movement led by Sunderlal Bahuguna! Ladies of Chamoli in Uttarkhand introduced chipko, the most relevant Ecological movement in India! We protested the Tehri dam and opposed every attempt to disturb the natural flow of the rivers!

In 1978, India suffered heavily while Floods innundated the Palins upto ganga sagar just because the natural flow of the Ganges was blocked in Gangotri. I had been there and reported for Dharmayug!

They created Big Dams without considering the climate, weather, ecology, human scape..anything. Narmada Bachao Andolan is trying its best. But the state power is always used against the indigenous people uprooting and killing them. Since Bhakhra Nangal and Rihand dam the story continues!

They create the Big Dams and Embankment without caring to manage them properly. Experts and Engineers base in the Capital cities enjoying the Time and Place in every possible ways. They are often tempted to create artificial calamities to defend the interest of the Ruling class and the Market forces. On the other hand , the dams and embankments have to be overseen by manual labour stripped off technical expertise!

We are Super Power to be! We are shining! We claim to be the developed nationality. But we have to get the goal with the annihilation and mass displacement of the Indigenous communities. We have to sell the Natural Resources. We handover everything! The society with inherent inequality and injustice manipulates the Politics to get expected favour and results!

Have you read Phanishwar Nath RENU? Maila Aanchal!

Phanishwar Nath 'Renu'
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Phanishwar Nath 'Renu' (???????? ??? ????) (March 4, 1921 – April 11, 1977) was one of the greatest writers of modern Hindi literature in the post-Premchand era. He is the author of Maila Anchal', which after Premchand's Godan, is regarded as the most significant Hindi novel.[1]

Phanishwar Nath 'Renu' is most known for promoting the voice of the contemporary rural India through the genre of 'Aanchalik Upanyas' (Regional Story), and is placed amongst the pioneering Hindi writers who brought regional voices into the mainstream Hindi literature.

His short story Maare Gaye Gulfam was adapted into a film Teesri Kasam by Basu Bhattacharya (produced by the poet-lyricist Shailendra) in 1966 for which he also wrote the dialogues. Later his short story 'Panchlight' (Patromax) was made into a TV short film.'Renu'

Maila Aanchal by Phanishwar Nath Renu
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Renu's Maila Anchal is one of the finest novels ever written in Hindi. The landscape of Bihar, the caste divide, Indian independence and changes in its aftermath, Maithali folklores and poems, the multiple love stories painted on a canvas with highly perceptive descriptions of village life make it one of the most important novels written in and about rural India.

The novel was first published in early 1950s, in the post Prem Chand era, at a time when young, independent India was trying to redefine its identity as a Nation. The novel is set in Bihar, and incorporates the regional contexts and references into its theme, making it into a perfect example of Anchalik Upanyaas (Regional Novel).

A short synopsis of the story reads as follows (I won't serve you details or surprises, just the bare bones, no soul, no flesh): Tehsildaar babu, by virtue of his position in administration has acquired large tracts of land, and turned into a Zamindaar (landlord) himself. He has a daughter by name of Kamla, who suffers from fits. Doctor babu (Dagdar babu) has left his city life to work in these hinterlands. This is the realm where Malaria, Kalazar and numerous such epidemics run havoc, where people trust tantriks and pandits (witches and priests) more than they trust medicine, where poverty itself is the biggest disease affecting people, and besides lack of basic amenities, people lack education and faith in government as well as doctor himself. Based on true life story of Dr Alakh Niranjan, who was alive (and 100 years old) in 2003, the doctor babu takes pains to fight disease and disbelief, in his battle for making people survive their ailments and superstitions. Kamla, who is his patient, falls in love with him.

Lakshmi lives on the Matth (a kind of monastery), serving old Mahanth (a priest) (a scandalous relationship). The Mahanth has a servant, who bears all insult from his master, and eventhough he was of low birth, is admitted into the Matth, as he is adept at playing the Khanjira (a musical instrument). A freedom fighter, S (I forget his name), comes in contact with Lakshmi, and is attracted to her. After Mahanth's death, the servant assumes office with help of Lakshmi, and because of her position, she is the butt of several people's lust, till she gives up her position in Matth.

There are a whole bunch of characters who get involved in caste based politics. Apart from S, who is a strict Gandhian (and makes speeches in pure Hindi, that most villagers admire, but never understand), there is a dwarf, who has had correspondence with Mahatma Gandhi himself and who after Mahatma's death, wanes away like a celebrated candle of dark hours flickers away unnoticed, once electricity connection is restored. There are the village hooligans who are lured by Communist party. There is division of ranks between different castes and groups, the divisions become harsher as politics promises power and money, and if you wonder about caste based politics, its roots and consequences, Maila Aanchal has a perfect script for tracing its roots. It also, in a manner of great story tellers, where the events speaks for themselves, shed light on how Gandhi was revered in even these remotest villages and how his death was mourned by most who did not know what difference becoming "free" would to make to them. For them the simile of being like a free bird means nothing, for they are like wingless birds who know not what wonders a flight entails, what sceneries lie beyond the horizons. The events reveal how Gandhians and idealists lost hope and direction after Independent India thrust itself into games of corruption and caste-based politics. The events prescribe the socio-economic condition of the villagers, the unequal sharing of crops, the inherited hierarchy of caste and money, and the crux of family values.

Be it gossip or folklores, songs of tribals or cures by the Doctor; be it drama (nautanki) enacted on stage or the Akhara fights (the wrestling matches); be it dresses and ornaments of womenfolk or the idealism and corruption of men; be it the bhajans (hymns) in Matth or the lust of men who sought Lakshmi; be it the harvesting season or description of monsoon rain; Renu presents a masterpiece where each description comes with a perspective and perception as keen and humane as of Tolstoy, as astute as of Maugham and Lawrence.

If Renu were an author in any other language, in other country or tongue, he would have managed to be read and celebrated a million times better than he is by us Hindi speaking Indians. He shares this fate with Prem Chand, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, Bachchan, Dharamveer Bharati, and Jaishankar Prasad, to name a few. His story Maare Gaye Gulfaam was made into a movie Teesri Kasam, though Maila Aanchal seemed to have been ignored by our Hollywood copying Bollywood.

If I were to suggest a series of books to any Indian about his country, I would, apart from epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata, go on and hand this list: Anand Math by Bankim, Gora and Ghaira Bhare by Tagore, Godan by Prem Chand, Midnight's Children by Rushdie, Maila Anchal by Renu and Gunaahon ka Devta by Dharamveer Bharati (The titles missing from this list (except for English fiction and Sarat Chandra) are a measure of my own ignorance, and hence I'll be delighted to get any recommendations).

Language flourishes when people speaking it celebrate its richness, honor its bards, recognize the need for its evolution and admire scholarship. Hindi as a language needs more authors like Renu. But more important than that is the reader who can savor the delights offered by our language. Maila Aanchal, apart from its numerous merits in being descriptive and its range and depth of narrative, is a celebration of spoken Hindi language, the khari boli. The language as we hear and live it is brought to the page by Renu. While he talks about social change, and issues closer at heart to reformists in undertones, he also springs at us a well written marvel of the language, freely indulging, romancing as if, with local words and variations, and at times, openly mocking the bookish Hindi, that is the bane of our classrooms, certain newspapers, and self-styled authors.

By the emphasis placed on the use of highly Sanskritized, defunct words, and due to importance of English as language of knowledge and erudition, Hindi literature and language have suffered enormously. Perhaps those among you who read the Russian authors or even the classical British novelists, perhaps you will notice how our approach to Hindi (or our Indian languages) is similar to Russians or Brits had for their mother-tongues in comparison to French. Perhaps likewise, an array of brilliant writers, a free dose of nationalism inspired by a new Napolean, is what we need for our language to flourish as it must.

While Renu waits for you to admire his contribution, I urge you to pick Maila Aanchal, and enter his world and characters from not so long ago, from our own land, our own country. Maybe, like always, you will learn something new about yourselves, about us. Read it and you will find Doctor babu, Kamla, Lakshmi, S, Mahant, Tehsildaar, Socialists, the dwarf, the Panditji and other characters will live etched in your memory reminding you of one and many you have known.

Nothing has changed in Bihar or the Maila Aanchal.

Just see the TV News coverage clippings! Renu changed his tone in Parti Pareekatha hoping that the Big Dam would change everything and his people would taste the fruits of freedom and development.

Nothing has changed!

It is the same landscape!

It is the smae human sacpe!

In all those villages inhibited by the poor, underclass and untouchables, minorities, you wont get a single House to get shelter, not even a cemented platfarm!

Bihar floods: A man-made disaster

The devastating floods in Bihar, caused by a breach in the Kosi barrage, have left many dead and more than 30 lakhs displaced. But the extent of the floods could have been lessened had the administration been alert to the impending tragedy..
BIHAR HAS been battling with horrific floods for the past 15 days. ‘Sorrow of Bihar’, Kosi river has devastated 16 districts of the state. More than 30 lakhs people have been affected by the floods and around a hundred lives have been lost in the water. Due to extent of devastation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared the floods in Bihar as ‘national calamity’. Singh also announced a Rs 1000-crore relief package for the state. Other states of the country are also offering relief packages to Bihar.

Government of Bihar is trying hard to provide necessary help to flood affected people. But still people in most affected areas are complaining of not getting adequate relief materials. Rescue and relief operations are going on in Bihar, but it would succeed only when the flood waters recede.

The reason behind the floods in Bihar was due to breach on Kosi river barrage on the Indo - Nepal border. But one can’t deny human hand behind the devastating floods in Bihar. The calamity is also the result of negligent attitude of the Central and state government. According to a senior official of National Disaster Management, the barrage completed its estimated lifespan of 30 years way back in 1986. Since then, 22 years have passed, but neither the state government nor the Centre showed any interest in constructing a new barrage or renovating the old one.

In 1956, the Kosi barrage came into being after a bilateral agreement between India and Nepal. But years before its estimated lifespan of 30 years, the river started changing its course eastward. The then Bihar government was aware of the fact, but it did not asked the Centre for diplomatic level talks with the neighbouring country. Negligence by Nepal towards maintenance of the Kosi barrage, which was breached two weeks back was one of the reasons behind the floods. But Nitish Kumar-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government also remained silent about the impending disaster.

Despite the flood-prone history of Bihar, the state government never showed much interest in dealing with the situation in advance. In fact, since the country’s Independence, the Centre never initiated diplomatic talks with Nepal. Of course, floods occur due to natural causes such as incessant rains, but by constructing a series of high dams on the Indo – Nepal border the extent of floods could have been reduced.

Fact is that the Centre or the state governments wake up only when floods or other natural calamities comes and destroy everything. At the time of elections, the government makes tall claims, and forgets them with the passage of time. Such negligence of the government and its officials is also visible in man-made structures like bridges, flyovers, buildings, etc.

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There are several railway and road bridges across the country, which are very old and have completed their life span. But the concerned authorities don’t care to dismantle the old bridge or replace it with a new one. Every now and then we come across news of falling bridges and buildings, but no one cares about the casualty.

The unfolding tragedy in Bihar is an important lesson for the state government and the Centre as well. Had the necessary steps been taken on time, the 16 districts could have been saved from such devastation. Floods in Bihar have shocked the whole nation and has raised questions against our so-called ‘developing nation’ image. It is time for the government to wake up, rather than play blame game with each other and make it a political issue.

Once upon a Sankranti

Half a century of harvests ago, the plans to control the flooding of the Kosi river got underway. The lives of those who live within its embankments have never been the same again; successive governments have failed them, and the practices that brought them such misery have remained firmly in place, notes Dinesh Mishra.

19 January 2005 - Fifty years ago on Makar Sankranti - 14 January 1955 - the first foundation stone for controlling the floods in country was laid in the village of Bhutaha, in Bihar's Madhubani district. The then Chief Minister of Bihar, Dr Shri Krishna Sinha, set off the plan to control the flooding of India's most vibrant river, the Kosi. Many decades after that beginning, it is debatable whether the embankments on either banks served the desired purpose, or if the cost paid by the people to achieve such flood control was justified. But there is something else we can pay attention to now.

With the river embanked by the project, some 386 villages spread over four districts - Saharsa, Supaul, Madhubani and Darbhanga - were trapped within the two embankments, and the waters of the Kosi pass over these villages every year. When the construction of the embankments began, the people were alerted, but it was 1956 before they understood what was going on and could raise the demand for rehabilitation. By then, the construction of the embankments was completed till Nirmali, some 50 kilometers south of the Indo-Nepal border. The Government assured the entrapped people that there would be only a marginal rise of four inches in the flood level within the embankments. The people disputed this, pointing out that the land around the Kosi slopes toward the west, and any rise in the flood level would spell doom for the people trapped within the embankments.

The response to their concern was indifferent, even calculating. In a meeting of the Kosi Control Board at Patna, on the 2nd March 1956, the members of the Central Water Commission opposed any move to resettle the embankment victims on the plea that that would set a bad precedent, and that people would start demanding rehabilitation in all such projects.

The floods of the Kosi in 1956 proved the villagers right; life within the embankments was devastated, and there was no doubt that more of this lay ahead in the years to come as well. Waterlogging outside the embankments was also significant; many villages were victims of stagnant rainwater that could not enter the river because of the embankments. A movement to rehabilitate villages trapped within the Kosi embankments gained momentum in 1957, but by this time the embankments had been further extended - to Mahishi on the eastern side and to Bhanthi on the west, both in Saharsa district. A total of 304 villages were trapped. As the resistance grew the government - at a cost of Rs. 112 millions - prepared a rehabilitation package but later found that this cost was disproportionate to the cost of the project itself (Rs. 370 millions), and the plans were dropped.

Pressure from villagers continued, however. This resulted in the announcement of a proportionate package of rehabilitation worth Rs. 21.2 millions. Deep Narain Singh, then Minister of Irrigaion in the State, made an announcement (3rd December 1958) in the Vidhan Sabha that,

The Government would provide land to the victims in the flood protected area, close to the embankment,
Government would arrange land for the services like schools, roads etc,
Rehabilitation sites will be provided with tanks, wells, tube-wells for water supply by the Government,
House Building Grants would be made available to the victims, and
Government would ensure easy access to the fields of the farmers by providing adequate number of boats.
Many elderly persons in the area recall that they were also promised jobs for at least one person per family in the Kosi Project. However, I did not find documentary evidence to substantiate this claim.

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By 1960, only 70 villages were resettled; even at that slow rate, nonetheless, only 9 years should have been needed to ensure rehabilitation for all the embankment victims. However, by 1972-73, only 32,540 families of the total of about 45,000 families were given the first grant for constructing houses; 10,580 families were given the second installment and none had got the third and final installment. Besides, these embankment victims were expected to go their old villages for farming since they were not alloted any land for cultivation in the so called flood protected countryside. The rehabilitation sites too became waterlogged, and the people returned to their old villages. The government interpreted this retreat of the villagers as their affection for their ancestral properties, and on this excuse the rehabilitation process was abandoned before completion.

It was not possible to physically rehabilitate the victims of the Kosi Project, for the simple reason that it is impossible to arrange for so much of land in this thickly populated area. This was probably why the CM thought of economic rehabilitation instead; he was of the view that not all the land within the Kosi embankments would be ruined, and that agriculture would continue to be practised there. Against this background, the government appointed a committee in 1962 to look into the problems of agriculture, health, industry, revenue collection, extension of securities and cooperation. The Development Commissioner of the State, the Land Reforms Commissioner and the Chief Administrator of the Kosi Project were members of the committee.

This committee achieved nothing. Then, in 1967, another committee was constituted under the chairmanship of the Kosi Area Development Commissioner whose job was to suggest programmes for the embankment victims in the sectors of agriculture, cooperation, industrial development and economic rehabilitation. This committee, too, did not function. In 1981, another committee under the chairmanship of Chandra Kishor Pathak, former chairman of Saharsa District Board, was constituted to look into the problems of economic rehabilitation of the embankment victims. This committee gave its report in 1982 and the Government accepted its recommendations in 1987. Based on the recommendations of the Pathak Committee, the state government constituted Kosi Pirit Vikas Pradhikar (Kosi Sufferers Development Authority) in the same year.

While recommending the constitution of this Authority, Bindeshwari Dubey, then Chief Minister of Bihar, asserted that there might not be any other place in the country where so many people are exposed to the fury of the floods of a river. These people had lost all hope of their betterment and his 'determined Government' was committed to their overall development so that happiness would dawn on them. But, the Authority of the 'Determined Government' remains a defunct body. It does not have a building or an office of its own. It has no vehicles and 'deputation employees' man its functions. It has no budget either. At best, it can request the other departments to do certain things for the embankment victims. It has some chairs and tables in the Vikas Bhawan at Saharsa where its employees are occassionally seen.

For fifteen years the two committees set up to look into the problems of those within the embankments did nothing, and twenty more years have passed since a third committee made its recommendations.

The Authority decided, way back in 1989, that those living within the embankmemnts would not have to pay the ferrying costs for coming to or going out from their villages as they have to cross many channels of the rivers. This would have ensured free movement to their villages but could not be enforced. The Authority recommended to the Relief and Rehabilitation Department of the state to provide free boats to the embankment victims, at least, during the monsoon season. It could not get that favour. Most of the primary schools within the embankments do not have roofs over their buildings. Who will go to study there and who would teach in such places? The doctors and the employees of the Health Department do not visit the Health Centres and they cannot visit there during the rainy season even if they want to because of heavy currents in the river. Who will get the treatment and who then will treat them?

It is written in the provisions of the Authority that fifteen per cent of Class-3 and 4 jobs in the districts that have benefited from the Kosi Project would be reserved for the embankment victims of the Kosi. Nobody has received jobs with that qualification so far, not even in the Kosi Sufferers Development Authority. There is no electricity, no pucca roads, no college, no hospitals, no cinema house, no bank, no block or any other office of the Government and there is no sign of any modern development within the Kosi embankments. No outsider wants to have marital relations with those in the embankments. Without the employment found by those migrating to places like Delhi, Haryana, Punjab or Gujarat, even simple existence would be hard. Struggling for the rights of these people is also not anymore on the agenda of NGOs and political parties - no one has time for a forgotten issue.

It is rumoured that some offices have been opened in Nepal to investigate the proposed Barahkshetra Dam on the Kosi that is expected to solve all the flood problems of Bihar, and that the Central Government has given a grant of Rs. 290 millions to realize this dream. One wonders whether there is any space for those trapped within the embankments of the Kosi in the project. To them, it matters very little where the office is; they are merely silenced witnesses to a ravaged past. Their silence is simply made more eerie by the fact that the 'development' that destroyed their lives still flows along the same course, elsewhere up the river. The bitter harvest is unending. ⊕

Dinesh Mishra
19 Jan 2005

India is ill equipped to face disasters: Assocham

Bs Reporter / New Delhi September 3, 2008, 18:10 IST

The country’s leading corporates have unleashed their pent up feelings, severely complaining that India is ill equipped to face disasters as it is yet to put in place an effective Disaster Management Plan

a survey conducted by industry body Assocham, nearly 78 per cent of the country’s 400 corporates have admitted this.

312 CEO’s mostly belonging to companies in telecom, power generation and transmission, oil, gas, sugar, infrastructure, hospitals, railways, textiles, agro products have strongly felt the need for creating a sound and proactive disaster management team to respond to contingencies arising out of natural calamities.

Nearly 65 per cent of the respondents felt that Tusnami which struck coastal part of India about 4 years ago had galvanised the Indian administration to come out on war footings with disaster management plans.

However, around 300 CEOs still hold that after Tusnami settled, the disaster management was not given the required attention.

Over 55 per cent corporates participating in the survey said that the involvement of private sector, common man, institutions like schools, colleges and even NGOs in handling disasters is extremely negligible.

Even, media does not play a required role to suggest measures to handle natural calamities, barring reporting them in a sensitive manner, they added.

The Chamber has also emphasised that Disaster Management should be made a permanent chapter in curricula of all schools so that students are imparted necessary physical training to handle disaster like situation before the forces are called upon to take on such exigencies and calamities.

Over 70 per cent of the respondents, however, expressed satisfaction that in order to respond effectively to floods and earthquake risk mitigation, Ministry of Home Affairs has initiated National Disaster Risk Management Programme in all States but much more needs to be done.

According to them, a comprehensive programme should be taken up to forewarn the people about possibilities of floods and earthquake so that they evacuate themselves to safer places and sites in advance as precautionary measures.

The Chamber is of the view that just a territorial army has been created in the oil sector particularly in its downstream branch to meet any sort of exigencies happening in refining and exploration front, a similar force is recommended to be made to handle disasters.

A special corpus needs to be created for this purpose in which the private sector should be asked to make 50 per cent contribution and also send their experts in schools and institutions that are mandated to create the suggested force.

There is a need of greater emphasis on infrastructure in large cities and the government has to set aside a dedicated fund.

Over the last 15 years, there has been a 30-35 per cent increase in urban population and most cities suffer from water shortage.

Bihar devastated by Kosi
26 Aug 2008, 0520 hrs IST, Subodh Varma,TNN

NEW DELHI: Every once in a while, nature reminds humans that it is the boss. The Kosi river, which gathers water from some of the highest mountains in the world, including Everest, and enters India in north Bihar, has changed its course and shifted over 120km eastwards, going back to a course it had abandoned more than 300 years ago.

In the process it has rendered useless more than 300km of embankments that had been built to control its ever-angry waters. The effect has been enormous, inundating numerous towns and villages that had not seen such floods for decades.

It is a Katrina moment in Bihar — nobody expected Hurricane Katrina to breach the levees protecting New Orleans, that too in 53 places, flooding 80% of the city and leaving a trail of never-seen-before death and destruction.

Just like the people of New Orleans, who felt secure because the levees were there, the people of Madhepura, Araria and Supaul districts had faith in the embankments built on both sides of the Kosi to keep the waters from flooding the adjacent plains. But they had not reckoned with the enormous pent-up force unleashed by 51 billion cubic metres of water. Finally, it broke through the embankment just after the barrage at Bhimnagar — and swept into its old course.

The Kosi is called the Sorrow of Bihar because among all the fast-flowing rivers that collect water in Nepal and speed down the mountains into the plains of Bihar, it is the most dangerous. It carries over 81 million tons of silt every year in its roiling waters.

And, it is a young river, not yet having matured enough to settle on a course. As it enters the northern plains the incline drops off, and the water starts slowing down. Over the years silt gets deposited giving Kosi its braided shape — it has several channels that diverge and then again merge, like a braid, as the water tries to find new ways to go further. As it shifts it leads a deposit of sand, which renders the land barren.

Seen from a satellite, the area looks like a conical fan. Created by hundreds of years of shifting, it is the largest such cone in the world, covering an area of over 15,000 square km. The tip is near Chatra on the Nepal border. The cone is made up of various courses of Kosi and the land in between, which gets submerged during floods.

The Kosi used to wind its way on the eastern-most course. But as the silting raised the level of the bed, it kept shifting westwards. However, because there is an incline from the west to the east, the waters couldn’t move westward any more and returned to the eastern course once again.

Experts argue that building embankments allowed too much silt deposition in a shorter stretch, leading to devastation. In other words, young Kosi is not being allowed to grow up and settle down. Meanwhile, people have to adjust to a new reality, the Kosi flowing in its new course, redefining fields, roads and boundaries.
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India To Launch Exclusive Satellite To Track Natural Disasters

Bangalore, India (SPX) Nov 01, 2005
In the wake of the recent earthquake which caused havoc in India and Pakistan, killing thousands of people, the Government of India has decided to launch an exclusive satellite that can track natural disasters, a top official said.
G Madhavan Nair, chief of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), stated in Bangalore that India would launch the Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT), configured for disaster management, with in a couple of years.

"Most of the disasters that happen relate to climate or the weather, like cyclones or the floods have, and we have to look through the clouds. The radar imaging satellites has become important. We are working on that and we hope such satellites will be operational within a couple of years," Nair told a function to celebrate the 32nd foundation day of the Bangalore chapter of premier business school, Indian Institute of Management.

India, which has launched 10 remote sensing satellites since 1988 in addition to several broadcast satellites, launched this year a satellite that can map every house and street in the sub-continent.

CARTOSAT-1 would help urban and rural planning, land and water management, relief operations and environmental assessments.

Experts say some 56 million Indians are hit by disaster each year but there is no long-term policy to prepare for and manage these natural and man-made calamities.

A recent report on the calamities said that on average, disasters in India kill 5,063 people, affect more than 56 million people and cost some 1.88 billion dollars every year.

It said floods hit 11.2 per cent of the land and 28 percent is hit by drought.

More than half the land is vulnerable to earthquakes and the 7,516-km (4,700-mile) coastline is whipped by cyclones that pummel the eastern coast, specially in Orissa and Andhra Pradesh.

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Man made calamities

Source: Leader writer: RK Lakhi Kant
Posted: 2005-11-12
There are some natural phenomena like floods, cyclones, tsunamis, earthquakes etc. that cannot be predicted. But still science has advanced so much that large scale death and destruction can be avoided in many cases like the hurricanes which hit the some areas in the USA recently. Almost whole cities were evacuated before the storms hit the areas. Still other calamities like floods and earthquakes are to be faced as there is not much anyone can do about it. The devastating earthquake in Pakistan and India only recently is an example of how unpredictable and out of control of humans such events are. These events are concerning nature and beyond humans to fight. But there are other events that cause similar misfortune among the people and which have completely man made causes which at times are due to the foolishness or lack of farsightedness of some people. Some examples of such events are riots, carnages, ethnic cleansing, large scale wars etc. All these are preventable if only the main actors in such events were more humane and had a larger sense of responsibility or a sense of brotherhood with others. There are many minor events also which do not cause so many deaths or large scale loss but which are equally disastrous when seen in the long run. Take for instance the state of communication in the state. It has been in a state of total disarray and mismanagement through the years since Manipur became a state and in fact even before that. But the level of awareness of our politicians and legislators regarding this problem is so wayward and low that this problem has remained unsolved for a long time and in future too there seems to be little hope for the state. Those who are to do their bit to improve conditions keep blaming the Centre for our problems. But it is not the Centre which has to look into every little problem of ours. It is only ourselves who dwell in this place who must take the initiative and solve our problems sincerely. The level of awareness of our leaders seems to go only as far as passing the buck to others. This brand of wisdom has failed us time and again. There is hardly a leader in the state who can see beyond petty political games and be a true leader.

The problem is not in just one area but like a disease it is spread out over many areas. The government today is severely crippled due to lack of leadership and insight into problems facing the people. There seems to be no need for any physical or moral qualifications for being a leader in this state. The current political situation in the state where there is a demand from the ruling legislators for a reshuffle in the ministry is another example of how things are going on in the state. For the people it hardly matters whether the reshuffle takes place or not as their condition would remain the same in any case. The politicians seem to be interested only in such matters of selfish interest and are hardly concerned for improving the administration. The various bandhs, blockades, dharnas etc. taken up by the public very frequently nowadays is not to be blamed only on them. In truth it is due to the political leaders that such eventualities are taking place. And the fact is that due to continued exposure to such means the public is beginning to be led to believe that the use of solely such means can actually bring about change in their condition without any other effort from their side. This way the quality of their citizenship is falling drastically. This matter should be of urgent concern to us. While natural calamities do not come so frequently and are anyway beyond our control it is the man made calamities we must be beware of.

Times of India reports from New Delhi:
Though called in late by the civil administration for rescue and relief work in flood-hit Bihar, the armed forces are now hopeful of being able to evacuate the estimated 3 lakh people still marooned in the affected areas in the next two-three days with the help of other agencies.

After shifting into “top gear” only late last week after the “requisite clearances” came through, the armed forces are stepping up their deployment in districts like Madhepura, Supaul, Araria, Purnia and Katihar.
Read More:

Gogoi directed the Jorhat district authorities to ensure adequate relief to the people with food scarcity looming large in the island as supply of essentials was hit by the rising water level.

The waist-deep flood waters engulfed 167 villages with a population of 1.5 lakh and was threatening fresh areas in the island, which houses several 'satras' (Vaishnavite monasteries).

The authorities were forced to shift 34 prisoners from Goramur sub-divisional jail to Jorhat central jail following the inundation in Majuli, the sources said.

The situation in lower Assam's Rangiya sub-division too is critical following breaches in four embankments by Puthimari river.

With NH-31, the lifeline of the north east, still under flood water, road communication with the rest of the country is snapped for the fourth day on Wednesday, the sources said.

The army continued to assist the government in providing relief to the affected people across the state, the sources said.

The situation in the Kaziranga National Park, famed for its one-horned rhinos, is also critical with more than 50 percent of the park area under flood waters.

The animals, including rhinos and elephants, are taking shelter on high platforms constructed within the park.

The park authorities have set up barricades along the highway for limiting vehicle speed to 40 kmph for protecting animals from being run over while migrating to the hills of neighbouring Karbi Anglong, the sources said.

Brahmaputra was flowing above the danger level in Dibrugarh, Sonitpur, Dhubri, Jorhat, Kamrup districts. In Guwahati, the river has touched the danger level. (ANI)

Nevertheless, high-level team of the officials from the Centre lead by Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar met the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and senior state officials in Patna on Tuesday. The Cabinet Secretary informed the Chief Minister about the ongoing relief operations carried out by the armed forces and other central agencies and assured him that the efforts would continue in full swing. He has asked the state administration to provide the details of further assistance required by them. Kumar appreciated the assistance given by the Armed Forces and desired that the main focus should be on rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts. He sought for more columns of Army for evacuation of the marooned persons and the Air Force for dropping of relief material.

The State Relief Commissioner has requested for more supplies of food, medicines and baby food. He has also sought veterinary services and establishment of relief camps wherever the railway heads are available. He also emphasized that efforts should be strengthened for evacuation of the stranded people. The Indian Air Force is operating 11 helicopters, 3 IL-76, 13 AN-32 and 2 Avro aircraft for evacuation and dropping of relief materials.

About 100 boats are being sent to the flood affected areas today.

Defence Secretary Vijay Singh, Secretary of Ministry of Water Resources U N Panjiar, Secretary Border Management Jarnail Singh and other senior officials accompanied the Cabinet Secretary.

Senior BJP leader LK Advani met Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on Wednesday to seek a solution to the problem of recurrent floods in Bihar, where around 25 lakh people have been rendered homeless in the worst ever floods in the Kosi region.

Advani urged Dr. Singh to find both long and short term solutions to the problem of recurrent floods in Bihar.

Advani, who made an aerial survey of flood-ravaged regions of Bihar along with State Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday, said, "Since the recurrent floods in Bihar caused by rivers originating in Nepal have international dimensions, I would meet the Prime Minister on Wednesday to seek both long and short term solutions to the problem in coordination with the government in the Himalayan country,"

"In today's situation, everybody should come together to help rather than indulging in mud sledging," Advani added.

The state's main opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) had earlier lashed out at the state administration, accusing it of laxity in providing relief to the flood victims.

The flooding, the worst in 50 years, was caused after the Kosi River breached a dam in Nepal. This unleashed huge waves of water that smashed mud embankments downstream in Bihar state.

The waters of Kosi gushed into the state inundating vast areas and affecting around two million people.

SC declines hearing on PIL for repair of Kosi river embankment

The Supreme Court declined to hear a PIL seeking directions to the Union government to take up the matter regarding the repairing and strengthening of the embankment of Kosi river, located in the territory of Nepal.

A bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrisnan and Justices P Sathasivam and J M Panchal asked the counsel for the petitioners "Can this court do anything in the matter? The government is already taking all necessary steps for the relief and resce of those marooned in the floods in Bihar." Praveen Chandra and Sanjay Kumar Vidyarthi in their petition have also prayed to the apex court to issue a writ of mandamus to the government to take appropriate measures to ensure that the problem does not occur in future.

The petitioners have also expressed dissatisfaction with the efforts of the state as well as the Union government in helping out millions of people marooned and uprooted to the worst flood situation that has occurred, submerging 13 districts of Bihar.

The state was hit by floods on August 18 when the Kosi embankment situated in Nepal was breached.

The apex court will, however, hear the petition on September 15 along with another petition already pending in the court.

Around 26.68 lakh people are entrapped in the flood and over 20 lakh people are still waiting to be evacuated to safer places. The Army has already taken over the relief and rescue work in the state.


PTI reports from Saharsa/Purnia (Bihar): The Kosi may have changed its course killing and displacing many in Bihar, but the river has also "sank" religious differences as evident in relief camps where RSS men were seen serving food to Muslims.
Clad in khaki shorts and caps, RSS men are serving gram and flattened rice to Muslim flood victims in a relief camp at Saharsa.

The camp being run by 'Seva Bharti', a Sangh Parivar outfit, at the zila school campus at Saharsa presents a rare but heartening sight where the devastating deluge of Kosi has sunk bitterness and differences.

"Over a 100 people of my community are taking shelter here for more than a week now and we have absolutely no complaint .... Life cannot be better than this in a relief shelter," says Mohammed Salauddin, who fled Parba village in Madhepura district along with his family to escape the flood fury.

In another camp, a kilometre away, a joyful reunion was taking place. The prayers of Phulo Devi, who has observed fasts on all occasions of 'Teej', have been answered.

Nago Paswan, her husband, who works as a farmhand in far away Punjab and had not visited their village in Murliganj in Madhepura for the last couple of years, rushed home when he learned of the flood havoc, but was stranded at Saharsa.

As luck would have it, he met Phulo and his children Rinku, Mamta and Rahul at the relief camp.

"I am relieved that my family is alive .... I had given up hope after watching on TV the destruction caused in Murliganj," says Nago.

Inept response to floods outrages India
Wed Sep 3, 2008 3:26am EDT Email | Print | Share| Reprints | Single Page | Recommend (-) [-] Text [+]
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By Bappa Majumdar

PURNEA, India, Sept 3 (Reuters) - For several days, Urmi Mahato and her family were glued to the radio and TV, eager for information on rising floodwaters and waiting for the government to tell them whether and when to evacuate their home.

The warning never came, and officials assured there was no danger. Then one morning a wall of water crumpled the river's mud embankment, swamping the village and sweeping away her family.

"I do not know where to look for them, there is no one to help me," said the 24-year-old woman, sitting at a government relief camp in Bihar, one of India's poorest states.

The floods have forced more than three million people from their homes, destroyed 100,000 ha (250,000 acres) of farmland and killed at least 90 people.

Media reports say the toll is at least 10 times higher, after the Kosi river, which originates in Nepal, burst a dam last month and unleashed the worst flooding in Bihar in 50 years.

But the tragedy is not entirely nature's doing. Experts and aid agencies blame government ineptness for not only failing to warn people but also for mishandling relief.

In the most shocking example, SOS fax messages sent by engineers at the Kosi dam warning of impending disaster were ignored in Bihar's capital Patna, the Mail Today newspaper said.

The faxes piled up on the relevant bureaucrat's desk because he was on leave and no deputy had been appointed. No one reacted even when warnings were sent to other officials, the paper said, calling for prosecutions for criminal negligence.

"We have come across such reports, and we will definitely look into this issue once all this is over," Nitish Mishra, the state's disaster management minister, told Reuters in Bihar.

"There should definitely be some accountability."

Anger is mounting and stick-wielding victims have resorted to looting food warehouses and trucks in some areas.

The threat of disease is also rising, but the government says it could take months before people can return home from camps.

The monsoon comes every year and also caused severe flooding in Bihar last year, but authorities admit they were not prepared for the scale of the disaster.

"Neither us nor the people thought such a devastation could happen so suddenly," said Mishra.


But aid agencies are unimpressed by the speed of the relief effort. Hundreds of thousands of people are still trapped on rooftops, elevated roads or surrounded by water in distant villages, without any food or water.

"On the ground, preparedness is missing in the current response," said ActionAid's P.V. Unnikrishnan. "Preparedness cannot be a knee-jerk reaction and currently preparing against disasters is not on the radar of the government."

After days of delay, India finally stepped up evacuation and relief this week by deploying 14 more columns of army personnel, while three naval companies were also asked to help.

More than 560,000 people have been evacuated, and 200,000 have been moved to government relief camps, officials said.

Environmentalists say the government should have de-silted the river as Kosi, known as the "river of sorrow" for its ability to quickly change course, leaves behind heavy silt and debris.

"The floods have pushed Bihar back to 50 years and authorities should be blamed for a slow response not the river," said Rameshwar Prasad, a local historian and environmentalist.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said the floods, as well hurricanes in the Atlantic, were reminders of the risks of ever more extreme weather linked to a changing climate.

Indian experts agree, saying the government must wake up to the complex issue of climate change quickly.

"It looks unusual for such heavy rains to hit Nepal and Bihar at the same time and cause floods so regularly," Sunita Narain, a climate change expert said in New Delhi.

"We don't have time now, we better get our act together now and prepare to face disasters tomorrow." (Editing by Simon Denyer)

Curse of Kosi: A legend comes true
31 Aug 2008, 0203 hrs IST, Abhay Mohan Jha,TNN

MADHEPURA: For both the new generation in Madhepura and the adjoining districts of Supaul, Araria and Purnia, until now the Kosi was just a river held at bay by the embankment near the Nepal border. Its fury was merely a tale carried over generations by word of mouth, folklores and songs. School textbooks too described it as Bihar's Sorrow. Just as the Huang Ho or the Yellow river was China's Sorrow. But it was all just a tale. The Kosi had been tamed by the embankment. Also, it had spared this region in its eastern basin by changing course to more than 100km to the west over the past 100 years.

The long hiatus nourished a tradition of farming, dairying, trade and culture. But the Kosi's tale has come back from the dead. The reincarnation of its anger is bringing death and devastation in a rapidly spreading arc. The toothless tales of its past fury are suddenly alive and residents now feel the sting they missed in dadi ma's tales. "Even village elders do not remember anything remotely similar to the tragedy that has unfolded here," Khushilal Rishidev, a landless dalit labourer from Singheshwar said.

Kamleshwari Prasad, 84, a farmer from Mathai in Madhepura, does remember scenes somewhat similar to today's, though. "The main road of Madhepura town fell in the Kosi's course in the 1942 floods," he remembered the plying of boats in the town then. But there are no boats at hand today when the river is determined to drown the entire township and beyond.

"The thana (police station) and the block office were shifted to 6km away to Mathai then," Prasad recalled, just as he solemnly saw people shifting out on Saturday.

Murliganj, a market town talked about as the economic hub of the Madhepura hinterland has been wiped out. With the town on the verge of drowning, any hope of rescuing the thousands marooned in the vicinity of Murliganj too seems to have sunk. "My father, a diabetic, and my children are dying of starvation in the village," cried Bam Shankar Chowdhary of Jorgama. "Ab koi nahin bachega," Aditya Singh of Korlahi village said in resignation.

Octagenarian Basant Kumar Sinha has fled his Madhepura home for the first time. "Kosi has been unkind in the winter of his life," nephew Rahul rued.

"Kamla bigdal, Kosi bigdal, bigaid gail Bhutahi-Balan. Baal bachcha sab duibb maral, ruis gela bhagwan (The Kamla has got furious, so have the Kosi and the Bhutahi-Balan. Our children and families have been drowned. The gods have turned their heads away)," goes a Maithili folk song. Its angst is searingly in motion with the roiling waters of the Kosi. Bihar's sorrow has come in a devastating reincarnation.

Missing the river for the dam
3 Sep, 2008, 0003 hrs IST,Sudhirendar Sharma,
The simplistic notion that a high dam in upper reaches can bring down the impact of floods in Kosi seems reflective of failed Indian hydrocracy, an expression gaining currency in regional water discourses. Raising contentious high dam issue at this stage, when the political atmosphere in Nepal is charged in favour of annulling all previous treaties including the 1954 Kosi treaty, will amount to diplomatic arrogance.

Nepal has long argued that a high dam doesn’t favour her, and that the projected benefits have been grossly exaggerated. These claims have been further accentuated by the raw deal reportedly received in the previous water-sharing arrangements, including the 1959 Gandak treaty. The present deluge upstream of the Bhimnagar barrage on Kosi has only amplified the accumulated aspersions.

The dilapidated state of the barrage could not convince this writer and other members of an independent fact-finding mission in early March that it could carry its designed discharge of 950,000 cusecs. The silt choked east and the west bank canals emanating from the barrage, their combined irrigation capacities reduced by two-third on account of defunct silt ejectors, could only add pressure on the main structure and the embankments upstream.

Sharing preliminary findings with the press, the fact finding mission had warned: “...not only are floods in Bihar manmade but that the worse has yet to come, should the political economy of flood control continue to promote ‘embankment’ as the only solution to the scourge of floods.” That the worse would come so soon couldn’t be predicted, but it undoubtedly had the making of a catastrophe.

Delhi has got its flood action plan consistently wrong over the years, and so has Patna. Yet, both never stop either blaming the rains or Kathmandu for it. Like floods, it is an annual ritual for politicians in Bihar to reiterate that Nepal has released water and that a high dam is the only solution to control floods. Little do unsuspecting masses realise that if there is no dam, how could water be stored upstream? But the myth persists!

Shockingly, however, flood control measures over the years have turned north Bihar into a watery grave for thousands. Jacketing the silt-laden rivers has helped flood prone area increase three fold in the state since Independence, from a low of 25 lakh to a high of 68 lakh hectare today. It amounts to no less than 73% of the entire land mass that remains prone under normal floods.

It is tragic that a catastrophic flood only sends alarming signals, emergency aerial surveys and fresh relief packages being the temporary outcomes. That over two million people are permanently trapped between the flood control embankments and an estimated eight million are faced with acute water-logging outside of the embankments are hard facts that continue to get ignored, year after year.
What instead gets attention is jacketing of the rivers, over 3,465 km long embankments have been built in Bihar since 1952. More are in the offing; a Rs 792-crore package to tame the Bagmati has been approved and another proposal to embank the tributaries of Mahananda at an estimated cost of Rs 850 crore has been planned. The business of embankment building reflects politician-bureaucrat-contractor nexus at its best.

India rescue at 'crucial' stage
Officials say that water levels are coming down
Efforts to rescue flood victims have entered a "final and crucial" stage in the northern Indian state of Bihar, the senior official in charge has said.

Prataya Amrit told the BBC News website that 60,000 to 80,000 people needed to be rescued from "six critical areas" in the districts of Sepaul and Madhepura.

He said more than 650,000 people had been rescued from the affected areas. More than 90 people have died.

Water levels in the flooded areas have come down "drastically", he said.

Meanwhile, monsoon waters have been causing havoc in India's Assam state, as well as in Nepal and Bangladesh.

Disease fears

The authorities in Bihar have been criticised for failing to rescue flood victims well over a week after the scale of the flooding became apparent.

Monsoon rains caused the river Kosi to change course, severely affecting areas not normally prone to floods.

Mr Amrit said that more than 3,000 soldiers, aided by the navy, had rescued most of the stranded people.

"We are looking to complete rescue and evacuation operations over the next two days," he said.

More than 250 relief camps have been set up

"It is the most crucial part of the operation because these are areas which have borne the maximum brunt of the floods."

These areas are in the worst affected districts of Sepaul and Madhepura.

However, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Bihar, Mandan Bharti Jagriti Samaj (MBJS), says that 500,000 people still needed to be rescued.

Mr Amrit said that more than 275,000 flood victims had been lodged in more than 250 relief camps in Sepaul, Madhepura, Saharsa and Araria districts.

Tens of thousands of survivors have crowded into unsanitary relief camps, where tensions are growing over the desperate lack of emergency supplies.

There have been reports of flood victims looting relief near some of the camps.

Mr Amrit admitted that there was a problem. "There is a gap between the demand and supply of relief material. We are trying to bridge this gap," he said.

With the numbers of people in the camps expected to nearly double in the coming days, there are fears that poor conditions could lead to outbreaks of diseases such as cholera.

The UN warned that "the heat, combined with limited supplies of safe drinking water and poor hygiene conditions, poses a great risk of water and vector-borne diseases".

Nepal affected

The disaster began on 18 August when the Kosi broke its eastern bank in Nepal, where the river is often called the Saptakoshi.

The river's flow is regulated by a barrage - on the Nepalese side of the border - which was built in the late 1950s.

Under a joint agreement India, agreed to pay for the work and be responsible for its maintenance.

Some analysts point out that the structure was built only as a short-term solution, meant to last 20 or 30 years.

Others accuse the Indian government of having failed in its duty to maintain and repair the defences. If they had, they argue, the river could have been kept on course.

Indian engineers say the Nepalese authorities did not give them the safe access they needed to carry out the work and that there were labour problems.

Massive natural silting is also a major problem. Critics say joint efforts to control that silting were also inadequate this year.

In Nepal itself, officials say hundreds of people have been hit by illnesses such as diarrhoea and pneumonia, and an estimated 50,000 are homeless.

They say nearly 1,000 houses have been completely destroyed, and that power supplies and transport have been severely affected.

The costs to the economy are now estimated at one billion Nepalese rupees ($14.25m).

Bihar govt's negligent attitude responsible for floods: Minister

Press Trust Of India / New Delhi September 03, 2008, 18:44 IST

Senior RJD leader and Union Minister of State for Water Resources Jaiprakash Narayan Yadav today accused the Bihar government of massive flood in the state by being "totally negligent" in taking preventive measures.

Yadav alleged that Bihar State Water Resources Department, till August 17, kept on giving reports from the flood control cell that all the embankments under its jurisdiction were safe.

However, when a breach in the east Kosi embankment at Kusaha in Nepal occurred on August 18, Yadav said, the Bihar Government came up with a report that erosions were taking place at the Kosi dam in Upper Nepal on Bahothan embankment for the past several days.

According to Yadav, the report also said regional engineers had been continuously working to make it safe but some anti-social elements forced out the labourers working to protect the embankment and consequently pressure increased at the embankment.

Yadav said the government further stated in its August 18 report that the flood control team could not reach to control the situation at the spot following a law and order problem created by Nepalese and the local administration's failure in containing it.

"This is how the government played with its own report to steer clear of its responsibility. This is not a heresay disclosure but facts based on documents," Yadav said showing the copies of the Bihar Government reports to the reporters.

He said it has been notified that how and when work has to be started and completed in Kosi area.

Bihar's worst floods, yet most babus sit idle
3 Sep 2008, 0124 hrs IST, Pranava K Chaudhary ,TNN
PATNA: There is no shortage of bureaucrats in Bihar. Yet, only a chosen few are engaged in the biggest-ever relief operations in flood-hit areas of the state. The rest have been mysteriously kept away from the crisis areas. In the absence of any defined assignment, most are keeping themselves abreast of the situation through news bulletins.

The bureaucrats, though, are willing to involve themselves in the massive humanitarian mission underway. But the government doesn’t seem to be paying heed.

‘‘I want to be involved in relief operations. I want to share my experience at this time of crisis,’’ said a senior IPS officer. A number of senior IAS officers with years of experience are virtually sitting idle in the secretariat. There is little work with hardly any official assignments. ‘‘I am drawing a hefty salary for doing nothing. The government doesn’t consider me fit for such exigency,’’ complained a secretary rank bureaucrat.

At least a dozen secretaries have admitted that a ‘‘culture of silence’’ prevails in the corridors of power. ‘‘Those who have dared to utter a word which is not suited to the ‘Raja’ have been relegated to the background,’’ said a disgruntled senior IPS officer. The list of those who have dared to speak out and have paid a heavy price is long.

Till date, the government does not have a full-fledged disaster management secretary. The over-burdened principal secretary road construction department R K Singh has had additional charge of disaster management department during the past six months.

Bihar State Bridge Corporation MD, Pratayay Amrit, has recently been assigned as additional commissioner of disaster management department. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar has the disaster management department portfolio.

Senior IAS officers posted in ‘‘innocuous’’ departments allege that they have been deliberately kept away from prestigious departments. Bihar’s devastating floods, they point out, require the services of the state’s large contingent of experienced bureaucrats at ground zero to monitor the mammoth rescue operation.

Instead of sending experienced officials, the government chose to deploy state cadres officials (some of them are on the verge of retirement) to monitor the relief operations.

The whole exercise of appointing special DMs in flood hit districts has turned futile. During last year’s flood, the government had also appointed special DMs which hardly made any difference, an official pointed out. ‘‘Special DMs and disaster management department are engaged in compiling laundry list statistics rather than rushing relief materials,’’ said an official.

Newborns in Bihar named after Kosi
3 Sep 2008, 0302 hrs IST, Abhay Mohan Jha,TNN
SAHARSA: The Kosi has brought doom to Bihar. But amid the deluge and destruction, the turbulent river has also brought smiles to some families. As some pregnant women delivered in shelter camps this week, the newborns were named after the river which has snatched away everything from hundreds of thousands of families in the state.

On Tuesday evening, as volunteers at a camp here gathered to prepare Wednesday’s menu for the flood victims, they also planned a celebration for Pinki, 20, and her husband Sudhir Sah, a couple displaced by the Kosi from their village in Madhepura. Pinki gave birth to a girl on Monday. ‘‘A daughter’s birth is auspicious,’’ Amit Swarnkar, a volunteer, said, ‘‘ Lakshmi ka janam hua hai .’’

Although the flood has pushed the Sahs to penury, the family is not angry with the river. ‘‘We are going to call her Kosia,’’ Rekha, the baby’s aunt, chirped, ‘‘We have been swept by the Kosi and she has been born on the Kosi bed,’’ The baby blinks her small eyes amid all this chatter, making her family smile.

Just two kilometres away, at a relief camp on the RMM Law College premises, two families paid rich tributes to the might
of the turbulent river as two women birth to baby girls in the camp this week. As Roopvi, a 19-year-old mother cradled her
baby, her mother-in-law declared: ‘‘ Kosi Maharani naam raakhbai (We’ll call her Empress Kosi).’’

all 3 news articles »
Voice of America Nitish must be tried for genocide, says RJD leader
Times of India, India - 1 Sep 2008
“Sheer negligence on the part of Nitish Kumar saw the Kosi deviating from its main course, causing devastation in several districts. ...
Bihar flood victims loot relief depot
Deve Gowda demands technical panel on floods in Bihar Economic Times
Over five lakhs evacuated as flood situation eases marginally Hindu
Indian Express - Business Standard
all 329 news articles »

Fresh News Kosi floods: Relief work on a war footing
Times of India, India - 31 Aug 2008
NEW DELHI: The armed forces have moved into "top gear" to assist in the rescue and relief work in districts reeling under the devastation wreaked by Kosi ...
Armed forces pluck Bihar flood affected to safety
Army intensifies relief operations in Bihar Hindu
‘Army made to wait for six days before deployment in Bihar’
Howrah News Service - Press Information Bureau (press release)
all 64 news articles »

BBC News Kosi threatens to swallow Katihar, Purnia
Times of India, India - 27 Aug 2008
PURNIA/ARARIA/FORBESGANJ: The turbulent Kosi, which breached the eastern afflux bund at Kusaha in Nepal and has wrought catastrophe-like havoc in Bihar's ...
Kosi river flows dangerousl Economic Times
Bihar to seek help on Kosi breach Business Standard
Kosi's fury leaves 42 dead in Bihar
Press Trust of India - Sify
all 411 news articles »
Greater disaster averted, says Kosi battler, Thailand - 5 hours ago
Kathmandu, Sep 3 (IANS) After a deluge that unleashed havoc in Nepal and India, the battle against the raging Saptakoshi river has finally begun to turn in
State engineers ill-equipped to plug Kosi breaches
Times of India, India - 1 Sep 2008
NEW DELHI: Plugging the breach in Kosi embankment that unleashed havoc in Bihar is proving to be a massive challenge which the state government’s engineers ...

TopNews Flood situation grim; Kosi breaches JBC canal in Purnia
Times of India, India - 31 Aug 2008
PURNIA: Spelling further trouble for lakhs of people already devastated by the floods in Bihar, the Kosi breached the Jankinagar Branch Canal (JBC) ...
Bihar floods: Kosi breaches Jankinagar canal in Purnia
Flood situation deteriorates in north Bihar, Lower Assam districts Hindu
Bihar flood situation worsens
Zee News - India Today
all 31 news articles »
ArcelorMittal offers aid to flood-hit Bihar
Economic Times, India - 3 hours ago
... Singh had announced Rs 1000-crore aid and 1.25 lakh metric tonnes of foodgrains for the people reeling under an unprecedented deluge caused by river Kosi.
ArcelorMittal offers help for Bihar flood victims Times of India
Biharis in city struggle to reach out back home Times of India
all 4 news articles » AMS:MT
Trickle begins as Kosi curse carries on in Bihar, India - 1 Sep 2008
New Delhi, September 1 With floods in Bihar leaving some 7 lakh people stranded across five districts, the first train carrying victims reached the Capital ...
Relief as Kosi water gets outflow into Ganga
Times of India, India - 31 Aug 2008
PATNA: There seems to be some good news finally from the flood-ravaged Kosi region in Bihar. The outflow of the Kosi's water into the Ganga increased on ...
Madhepura turns ghost town as Kosi swamps everything in way
Economic Times, India - 31 Aug 2008
MADHEPURA : With thousands fleeing to escape the ever-rising waters of the Kosi river, Madhepura town in Bihar is on the verge of becoming a ghost town. ...
RJD fixes blame on govt Hindustan Times
all 9 news articles »
Curse of Kosi: Relief still not adequate, India - 31 Aug 2008
Floods continue to ravage Bihar, but rescue workers with relief materials are gradually trickling in. For days, a family survived on the rooftop of a home, ...
Bihar floods: Now, Centre plays blame game
Times of India, India - 2 Sep 2008
... government being accused by the Centre of not sending a scheme for works to be executed on the damaged dams on the Nepal section of the Kosi river. ...
Curse of Kosi: Man who saw his sons drown, India - 30 Aug 2008
As Bihar struggles with Kosi's wrath, it's getting difficult for people to keep their hopes alive, waiting for relief desperately. ...
Man saved 9, then watched sons drown
all 2 news articles »
Evacuation in flood-hit Bihar to be completed in three days, Thailand - 2 Sep 2008
Over 2.5 million people in 1598 villages spread over 15 districts have been affected by the floods triggered by the Kosi. The floods have claimed 35 lives ...

Time running out fast for people in flood-hit Madhepura
Hindu, India - 29 Aug 2008
The people from villages adjoining Murliganj had taken shelter with their cattle on the railway line Since August 20 after Kosi veered its course and ...
Boat sinks in flooded northern India, killing 20 The Associated Press
20 feared dead as Army rescue boat sinks in Bihar
Several feared dead as rescue boat capsizes Press Trust of India
all 147 news articles »
Prabhu joins hands with FICCI for river connectivity
Zee News, India - 33 minutes ago
The Kosi river has created havoc in north Bihar, which is suffering one of the worst floods leaving lakhs of people homeless. After the Kosi river water ...

The Associated Press Indian military mounts mammoth flood rescue effort
The Associated Press - 21 hours ago
Only then will workers be able to plug the breach in the Kosi River that is more than a mile wide and growing. The river, which flows down from the ...

Times Ground zero: Story of hunger & desperation
Times, India - 13 hours ago
After seventeen days, Bihar continues to reel under the wrath of the Kosi. TIMES NOW travelled to ground zero, Purina -- the worst affected area -- to bring ...
Boats too few, victims wait on trees Calcutta Telegraph
all 2 news articles »

AFP Indian flood victims face months of destitution
AFP - 12 hours ago
Officials said work to fix the flood walls and divert the Kosi river back to its normal course cannot begin before the rainy season ends in October, ...
Caritas to feed 270000 people hit by floods in India
ReliefWeb (press release), Switzerland - 4 hours ago
Over 2500000 people in the Indian State of Bihar have had to flee the rising flood waters after the Kosi River broke its banks on 18 August following heavy ...
Caritas providing food and shelter to thousands in Bihar ReliefWeb (press release)
all 2 news articles »

Monday, September 1, 2008

Globalization and income polarization in rich countries

Globalization and income polarization in rich countries

The following study exposes the full extent of wealth polarization in
the US. It debunks right wing claims that the wealthy pay their share
of tax, they pay nothing. America is the most economic polarized
country of all the OECD countries and this polarization is as a result
of government and big business collusion acting directly against the
interests of the vast majority of US citizens.

Storage of Important Reservoirs in the Country

Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Storage of Important Reservoirs in the Country

New Delhi : September 1, 2008

Central Water Commission (CWC) under Ministry of Water Resources is monitoring storage position of 81 important reservoirs spread all over the country, of which as many as 36 reservoirs are having significant hydro-power benefits with installed capacities of more than 60 MW each. The combined live storage in these 81 reservoirs at the beginning of monsoon i.e. 1st June, 2008 was 19 % of their designed capacity and stood at 63 % per cent of the designed capacity as on 28th August 2008. The present storage is 89 % of last year’s storage and 111% of last 10 years average storage during the same period. Out of these 81 reservoirs there are presently 18 reservoirs where this year’s storage is 80 % or less than the average of previous 10 years and in remaining 63 reservoirs the storage is more than 80 % of the average of previous 10 years.

In order to derive the best possible benefits from the available water, Central Water Commission is keeping in touch with the Department of Agriculture and Co-operation and providing information of the weekly storage position to the Crop Weather Watch Group for evolving suitable crop strategies and also appraising the situation to various Departments and Ministries involved in Water Resources Planning.

Basinwise storage position as on 28th August 2008 is as follows:

The storage position in 7 basins namely, Ganga, Indus, Narmada, Sabarmati, Mahanadi & Neighboring East Flowing Rivers, Cauvery & Neighboring East Flowing Rivers and Krishna are better than average of previous 10 years. Mahi, Rivers of Kutch and West Flowing Rivers of South basins are flowing close to normal and Tapi and Godavari are flowing deficient.

Out of 36 reservoirs with significant hydro potential, 11 reservoirs have storage build up less than the average of last 10 years capacity.


PIB Kolkata

Afghanistan's Epidemic of Child Rape

From: Travis
Date: Mon, Sep 1, 2008
Subject: Afghanistan's Epidemic of Child Rape

Thanks to Mohammed... Evil Islamic barbarism.


Afghanistan's Epidemic of Child Rape
Sweeta tucked her hands between her thighs and began to rock as she told her story. The details emerged in a monotone, her face expressionless. Last winter she had just stepped out of her house in Afghanistan's northern province of Jowzjan to fetch water from the well when a neighbor approached her. He told her that her father was ill and had been taken to the hospital. He offered her a ride. When she refused, he threw her into his car, his hand over her mouth so no one would hear her scream. He took her to a room in the nearby army garrison. "And then he took off his pants," she says. "He raped me." Sweeta is only 11 years old.
Child rape is on the rise in Afghanistan's northern provinces, part of a general increase in crime that is largely overshadowed by an equally disturbing spread of insurgency. Government officials say only a handful of child rapes have been reported across Afghanistan in the past few months, but human rights organizations say the toll is much higher. Maghferat Samimi, head of the Afghan Human Rights Organization in Jowzjan, says that over the past two months she has interviewed 19 victims from the three northern provinces she serves. The youngest victim was 2 1/2 years old. Samimi carries the little girl's picture in her mobile phone, ready to show to anyone who might be able to stop what she calls a new plague on her country.
She is not the only one bringing the crimes to light. In this conservative Islamic country where a girl's virginity is valued above all else, rape has long been considered something shameful, something to be hidden at all costs. But as the incidents increase, families are starting to speak up, risking dishonor in order to bring justice. Families of teenage victims are airing their tales on national TV, hoping, like Samimi, that somebody will be able to do something. So far, little has been done.
The Interior Ministry has announced that it will crack down on sexual assault. During a recent press conference, President Hamid Karzai said that rapists should face "the country's most severe punishment." Yet on the same day, a man charged with the rape of a 7-year-old boy in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif escaped from prison. Three policemen, thought to have assisted his escape in exchange for a payoff, have been detained; the man has not been recaptured.
It is not uncommon for criminals to bribe their way out of prison in Afghanistan. But in the north, where warlords still command private militias and enrich their armies by running lucrative smuggling routes, impunity is rife. Police often refuse to register cases against well-known criminals, for fear of retaliation and more often because they are on the take. When Amruddin's 13-year-old daughter was kidnapped in Sar-i-pul province last year, he had to pay for the local police officer's fuel in order to get the officer to visit the cafÉ where she had last been seen. The officer was no help. When Amruddin - who, like most poor farmers in Afghanistan, only has one name - finally found his daughter a week later, she identified the police officer as one of her eight rapists. Three other suspects worked for the village strongman. When their case came to the local prosecutor, he dismissed it, saying there wasn't enough evidence. More likely, says Amruddin, there wasn't enough of a bribe. Amruddin says that in order to raise enough money for all the necessary bribes, he sold his two other daughters, ages 9 and 11, for $5,000. "I had to sell them in order to pursue this case," he says. "What else can I do? I am not a pimp, a coward, to let these men get away with what they did. I will sell all of my children if that is what it takes to get justice."
Corruption in Afghanistan's justice sector is often shrugged off by international donors who argue that security and development must take a higher priority. Some take it as the price of doing business, saying that rich countries can't expect Afghanistan to meet Western standards of transparency. Indeed, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has just endorsed a plan that would give $20 billion to build up Afghanistan's military and police forces. But what is the use of improving the police sector when the judicial system is unable to successfully prosecute criminals? A few countries are beginning to address this problem. Norway has just announced a $6 million contribution to Afghanistan's justice-sector reform program, in addition to the $21 million already donated by other countries. The fund will cover legal reform, training, court and office rehabilitation, computers and legal assistance.
What Afghanistan needs, says Major General Robert Cone, who oversees the U.S. effort to train Afghanistan's security forces, is a surge of lawyers to take on the country's justice system, just as the international community has sent soldiers to mentor the police and army. "Good policing needs a good judicial system," says Cone. "I think that a similar effort to the police effort needs to be launched on a similar scope and scale to address the justice issues. We have some real problems with corruption in the prisons here. There are 10 links between arrest and putting someone in jail. The police own the first four links in the process, but if you fix the first four links without addressing the next six, it won't work."
Sweeta's family knows that revealing the details of her ordeal may condemn her to an unmarried life marked by shame and poverty. But they are not seeking money, only justice. After six months of waiting for resolution, Sweeta's sister Saleha has given up on the government and is starting to wonder if the past seven years of foreign intervention have brought any progress at all to Afghanistan. "If the Taliban were still here, that rapist would have already been executed by now. It would have been a lesson for all," she says. "If there is no law, and the government does not listen to people's complaints, then it is better to go back to the Taliban era. At least then we had justice." - With reporting by Ali Safi / Sheberghan
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