Urban Floods

Bihar to change Kosi’s course to save the ancient site


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Kosi River

Mains level : Floods in India

The Bihar government will try to divert the course of the mighty Kosi River in Bhagalpur district to save an archaeological site discovered recently.

Tap to read more about the Himalayan Drainage System:

Drainage System | Part 3

Kosi River: The Sorrow of Bihar

  • The Kosi is a trans-boundary river which flows through Tibet, Nepal and India.
  • The river crosses into northern Bihar, India where it branches into distributaries before joining the Ganges near Kursela in Katihar district.
  • Its unstable nature has been attributed course changes and the heavy silt it carries during the monsoon season, and flooding in India has extreme effects.
  • It is also known as the “Sorrow of Bihar” as the annual floods affect about 21,000 km2 of fertile agricultural lands thereby disturbing the rural economy.

Why change its course?

  • Several priceless artefacts have been found at the Guwaradih village in Naugachhia sub-division of Bhagalpur district during the excavation of a mound.
  • These items could be 2,500-years-old and could be of interest for historians if conserved.
  • The historical sites are facing threats from the Kosi floods.
  • The Kosi currently flows around 300-400 metres from the site, while its old course is about two kilometres from the village.

Threats posed by the move

  • Environmentalists have warned that changing the Kosi’s course could be disastrous for Bihar as seen in 2008.
  • At that time, the river had breached its mud embankments at Kushaha in Nepal.
  • The Kosi frequently changes its course naturally. If its course is artificially changed, it will cause floods and erosion in new areas, leading to massive displacement of people.
  • It then caused extensive damage to life and property downstream in five densely populated districts of northeast Bihar.
  • Some 500 people were killed and four million rendered homeless.

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