As water level recedes, people in Bihar return to their homes which no longer exist

Just a few days back people living in Naruar village lived regular lives. The intertwining night of June 13-14 changed everything when flood water gushed into their village and washed away everything that came in its way, including the cement and brick structures -- their homes -- and all their belongings. After water level receded, they came back to their "homes" to look for their belongings ranging from bikes to cattle, clothes, furniture, utensils and important documents

Mithilesh DharMithilesh Dhar   24 July 2019 11:04 AM GMT

Magan Mandal had a dream. He used to play DJ in weddingsthat were organised in his village and was quite popular. In order to expand his business, he spent Rs 2 lakh and bought good quality DJ-ing paraphernalia.

On the night of July 13, flood water gushed into his village and his house collapsed. All his belongings got washed away. The next day he found his speaker lying somewhere, half submerged in water. It's defuncted now. He couldn't even find rest of the equipment.

"I was earning well. I returned from Mumbai and wanted to start something of my own. Now I don't know what to do," said Magan.

Magan Mandal's speaker was found submerged in water. Pic: Abhishek Verma

( Magan lives in Naruar village in Jhanjharpur block in Bihar's Madhubani district.On the intertwining night of July 13 and 14, at around 12 30 am, they came face to face with death when the western embankment of Kamla Balan breached under pressure from the rising flood waters and inundated the village, washing away everything that came in its way, including the cement and brick structures -- their homes -- and all their belongings.

Just a few days back these villagers lived ordinary lives. That night changed everything. Lanes and by-lanes where children used to play are inundated with flood water. The village is a ghost town now. People have moved to relief camps. They come back to the village to look for their belongings ranging from bikes to cattle, clothes, furniture and important documents.

Sandeep Kumar, 28, an electrician, was in Patna on that fateful night. His house didn't collapse, but he lost all his belongings.

"Our neighbours saved my mother, but we lost our belongings. Her sarees and other important stuff were kept in a box, I came looking for that. All I have found is some books and notebooks," he said.

Sandeep sitting in front of his house. Pic: Abhishek Verma

A Around 76.85 lakh people in 12 districts of the state have been affected because of floods with over 1.15 lakh sheltered in 131 relief camps. The death toll has reached 105. According to the state Disaster Management Department, Sitamarhi and Madhubani districts are the worst affected.

Naruar village in Madhubani district is the worst affected. More than 40 houses got washed away. When we reached this village, few villagers were loading their belongings onto an auto.

Their neighbours informed us just two months back both their sons got married. "They received many gifts during the weddings, but they have lost most of them. Now they are taking the rest because the house has partially collapsed," he said.

Vinod Mandal from Jhanjhapur block used to sell vegetables in Delhi. He was building a house in his village and was planning to shift there with his wife and children, but now he is living in a plastic tent.

"This house was in the making since past five years. I have lost everything. Whatever I had saved, I invested in this house. I had bought a small LED TV from Delhi. It's of no use now. We are looking for our utensils," he said.

People loading their belongings onto an auto and leaving their village. Pic: Abhishek Verma

When we reached Janipur village in Madhubani district's Bisfi block, around 10 people were pulling out a bike from the slush of water and mud. It belonged to Pankaj Mandal, who had got it as a gift when his brother had got married.

"My brother lives in Mumbai. I got this bike when he got married. I managed to find it with great difficulty. But now it's not getting started. I will have to get it repaired, but now I don't have money. I have lost my passbook and ATM cards," he said.

Sitamarhi district, which is closer to the Nepal border, is the worst affected. More than 17 lakh people are flood-affected. Many rivers like the Jhim, Sigiyahi and Goga are still flowing above the danger mark.

When we reached Laptaha village in Parihar block, we met a couple who were desperately looking for their lost pigs. Umesh Mallu, who is a boatman, said:"I had bought 20 pigs to start a small business. I have lost all of them. We moved to a school after our house collapsed. Now that the water level has receded, I have come here to look for my lost pigs."


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