The Konar river irrigation project c
Officials said after the cleaning of the river, they plan to develop parks along the river banks. Photo for illustrative purposes. Image Credit: Social media

Patna: A river in Bihar that had run dry over the years has come back to life thanks to months of hard work by villagers and officials.

Chhadi river, a tributary of mighty Gandak, originated from Gopalganj district and after covering a distance of some 60 kilometers would enter into the neighbouring Siwan district in north Bihar. It would irrigate some 5,000 hectares of farmlands located in various blocks across the two districts but it lost its existence owing to the high level of siltation.

Recently, the villagers as well as the officials launched efforts to revive the river which was once the lifeline of farming community. Some eight months back, the local district magistrate Arshad Aziz made formal effort to clear the silt from the river and bring it back to life which was whole-heartedly supported by the local villagers.

Subsequently, the river was cleared of it dirt and siltation with the help of funds available under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. Such has been the result of this effort that the fresh water is flowing again in the river which has brought smiles on the faces of local farmers.

Water flow

“The river has been revived with the efforts of the administration and the villagers. We are still busy completely cleaning the river so that the water flow remained normal all through the year,” sub-divisional official of Gopalganj town Upendra Pal said.

Officials said after the proper cleaning of the river, they have planned to develop beautiful parks along the river banks. The upkeep of these parks will be on the shoulders of the local villagers.

The villagers are very happy to the see the dead river coming alive after a long time. “We used to have bumper yields earlier even without use of fertilisers as the river brought fertile lands with floodwaters but with the passage of time, the river turned into a drain and nearly lost its existence. Now we are happy to see the river flowing again,” exclaimed Sanjay Tiwari, a resident of Gopalganj district.

According to experts, there were once some 600 river streams in Bihar which nursed the humanity. Out of which more than 100 rivers such as Lakhandei, Noon, Balan, Kadane, Sakari, Tilaiya, Dhadhar, Chhoti Bagmati, Saura and Falgu have gone on the brink of death. These river streams not only boosted the economy of the masses but also recharged the ground waters but today the scene is very pathetic on the ground. The perennial river streams have become seasonal now with majority of them getting dry once the rainy season is over.

Extensive sand mining, over-exploitation of ground water, erratic rainfalls, shrinking forest cover and lack of sustained campaign to make people aware about the importance of water and water bodies in life are believed to be the reasons behind the alarming situation.

Experts say such streams earlier boosted the economy of the general masses who not only used them to irrigate their lands but also earned handsome amounts by way of fishing. The seriousness of the situation can be gauged form the fact that most of the surviving rivers appear to be turning into drains with their river beds filled with sands.

Prominent river activist Ranjeev Kumar says population pressures and development, apart from the ecological disturbance have done a lot of harm to the state which was once blessed with hundreds of rivers streams but in the current situation, they are battling for survival. According to him, encroachment on river beds and ongoing constructions are squeezing the rivers. “There is a serious need to bring the issue in public debate but sadly none looks interested in this issue,” he said.