Torrential rain and storms in the Bihar region of India brought chaos to the area. As many as 5 people have died due to the flooding there, but also at least 22 people have been reported killed by lightning strikes. The victims of the lightning were mostly farmers who were working outdoors during the storms. However it has been reported that there were 6 children and 3 women amongst the casualties. There were also around 25 serious injuries. The were also severe storms and lightning strikes in the neighbouring state of Uttar Pradesh where 13 people died.
The eastern state of Bihar is India’s “flood state”. Around three quarters of the population of the northern part of the state live under constant threat of floods. Nearly 6,000 people are believed to have died as a result of flooding in Bihar since 1979.
But why are there so many floods in Bihar? The northern part of the state is host to 8 major rivers – Ghaghra, Gandak, Budhi Gandak, Bagmati, Kamala, Bhutahi Balan, Kosi, Mahananda – all tributaries of the Ganges.
Bihar proximity to the mountainous regions of Nepal often means that rainfall in the higher areas results in floods in the lower Bihar region. The Kosi river is mainly responsible to bringing the flood waters from Nepal, and often under quite controversial circumstances. When the water level of the river rises in Nepal it overloads the Kosi river dams. Nepal will then open the Kosi Barrage Pool in order to protect the dams, but allowing the flood waters to head for Bihar.
The building of the Farakka Barrage – a barrage across the Ganges River in West Bengal – has also led to problems upstream of the barrage, in particular for Bihar.
Failure of embankments along the rivers, plus deforestation, have also been blamed for the increase in floods in Biahr.