Bihar floods  Narkatiya village in northern Bihar’s Sheohar district
Narkatiya village in northern Bihar’s Sheohar district has been destroyed by floods and rebuilt 43 times in 87 years. Image Credit: Supplied

Patna: In a display of grit and determination, residents from a village in Bihar have resettled themselves at least 43 times in the past 87 years after being devastated by floods.

Villagers from Narkatiya village in northern Bihar’s Sheohar district have been facing floods almost every alternate year, but what is remarkable is that the repeated disasters have not dampened their spirit.

Each time their houses were washed away by the floodwaters, they acted with renewed strength and rebuilt their homes once the floodwater receded. The village, mostly dominated by the fishermen community, has around 300 houses.

According to the village elders, this village was free from floods until a massive earthquake hit the state in 1934. Due to the impact of the quake, the Bagmati river flowing two kilometers away turned course and reached near the village. As of now, catastrophe has become a part of their destiny.

“I have seen floods almost 40 times in my lifetime. Floods came and washed away the huts and mud-built houses of villagers but I have no complaints from the river,” said the 85-year-old Brahmdeo Sahani who has rebuilt his house 20 times. He is, however, angry with the local administration and the government that have made only empty promises so far.

No concrete houses

Another villager Satyanarayan Sahni said no villager builds concrete houses due to fear of devastation which, he added, has become their fate. He said the villagers faced a lot of trouble rushing their sick family members to local hospitals during floods.

Ramchandra Manjhi, another villager, said as many as 47 houses were washed away by the Bagmati floods last year as the river came close to the village and caused massive soil erosion. This time, floods have destroyed 50 houses as the affected villagers have taken shelter under makeshift shanties made of dry leaves and polythene sheets along the river embankment.

“But we don’t feel downhearted. We are not going anywhere and will rebuild our home again at the same deserted village once the floodwaters recede,” Manjhi said. “It is difficult to say when Bagmati will change its course and whose house will be washed away. Even after this, we will not give up. We have no complaints from the river, but from the system. During the floods, officials come and return after giving us promises,” said another resident.

Difficult to rush relief

Local village council chief Kamlesh Paswan said the administration had been facing a lot of trouble in rushing relief to the flood-hit villagers. “After getting devastated by the flood, the villagers build houses elsewhere. Because of this the map of the village keeps changing. This has prevented villagers from getting basic facilities,” Paswan said.

Local district magistrate Sajjan Rajashekhar said the government was constructing a dam to save the village from floods. “After construction of the dam, the water of Bagmati will be discharged into its old stream,” the district magistrate said. According to him, the construction of the dam was to be completed in 2020, but the work got affected due to floods.

This year, early monsoon rains caused floods in at least 15 districts of Bihar, prompting chief minister Nitish Kumar to conduct aerial surveys for several days. As per reports, floods have affected around a million people settled in north Bihar districts.