You may login with either your assigned username or your e-mail address.
The password field is case sensitive.

Bihar Floods

Refugees of the Kosi embankments – A booklet by Dinesh Kumar Mishra

KosiThis booklet by Dinesh Kumar Mishra deals with the plight of the refugees of the Kosi embankment. Kosi, one of the most vibrant rivers of North Bihar begins its journey at a height of about 7000 m in the Himalayan range. After entering the plains, the bed of the Kosi widens drastically and it spreads over 6 to 10 km.

In 1953 the Government of India gave formal approval to the Kosi project, which led to the construction of 125 km long embankment on the eastern bank of the Kosi, from Birpur to Kopadia and 126 km long embankment from Bhardah in Nepal to Ghonghepur in Saharsa, on the western bank. The work was almost fully completed by 1959.

The embankments were supposed to protect 214,000 ha of land from the recurring floods of the Kosi. A barrage across the river was also constructed near Birpur in 1963 to facilitate irrigation of 712, 000 ha, through Eastern Kosi Main Canal. Another canal, called the Western Kosi Canal, the foundation stone of which was laid in 1957, is also being constructed to irrigate some 325,000 ha of crop land on the western side of the barrage. The work on this canal is still in progress.

With the completion of embankments on the Kosi in 1963, a population of nearly 192,000 were trapped in 304 villages between the two embankments of the Kosi. This number had swollen to 9,88,000 (2001 census) and the number of villages gone to 380 because of the extension of embankments. This population is scattered over 4 districts and 13 blocks.

Rehabilitation of these unfortunate people was not incorporated in the original plan of the project when the approval of the project was given in 1953. The rehabilitation issue of these entrapped people came for discussion only in 1956 after the construction started in 1955. They are living in primitive conditions ever since and their plight cannot be understood without physically seeing their living conditions.

Read More

Download these documents : Size
Refugees of Kosi embankments - A booklet by Dinesh Kumar Mishra52.93 MB
Na ghat na ghar: Kosi punarwas ka kahar - A booklet in Hindi by Dinesh Kumar Mishra48.84 MB

Everything you wanted to know about rivers in India - Compilation of all videos from the "Living rivers, dying rivers" series of talks organised by India International Centre and Centre for Policy Research at New Delhi over 2011-12

The India International Centre launched a series of talks titled ‘Living Rivers, Dying Rivers’ in collaboration with the Centre for Policy Research. The attempt was to join the crucial debates surrounding the alarming increase in environmental degradation, especially of rivers and river systems, without which the very survival of all species is in jeopardy.

A certain number of rivers, some sick or dying, some living and healthy, and some showing early signs of sickness, were taken up for presentations and discussion, and an attempt made to understand what has gone wrong in many cases, what has gone right in some, and what needs to be done to revive and restore dying or sick rivers. The series has been conceived and carried forward by India’s foremost expert in the field, Prof. Ramaswamy Iyer.

Read More

Towards self-reliance and access to safe drinking water and secure sanitation in north Bihar: A report by Megh Pyne Abhiyan (2011)

Megh Pyne Abhiyan

This report talks of the successes and challenges in fulfilling the endeavour of moving towards self reliance and access to safe drinking water and securing sanitation in north Bihar, the areas of concern and shortcomings, and acknowledges the missing links to find the way forward.

The report divided into 3 sections, begins with an overview of the regions problems, the recurring flood, the setbacks caused by them and how the existing flood management system has exacerbated the crisis, deepening poverty levels. It also looks at the drinking water, sanitation and agriculture problems caused by these periodic floods.

Section I, comprising of 2 chapters, illustrates the irony that though rivers overflow and the lands are saturated with water during monsoons, there is Main Reporta severe shortage of drinking water. It talks about the government flood management policies, which have intensified the crisis and worked to the detriment of the region and its people. It also elaborates on the colossal human tragedy that follows the monsoons, how thousands of people perish every year along with their livestock, standing crops are lost, huge tracts of land remain water-logged for months and epidemics break out.

Section II  chalks out how Megh Pyne Abhiyan, literally cloud’s water campaign, begun in 2006, uses long term planning of sustainable water management as its initial plank for ecological, economic and social regeneration. Also MPA aims, approach, organisational structure and allies are discussed in depth.

Section III aims to capture MPA forays into its operational areas in depth and shows the need for tying them into a circle of continuum. It highlights the success stories, how MPA overcame resistance to its initiatives, and its efforts to be an alternate model of development. It talks of their innovations, their attempt to document traditional water management practices, and struggles to anticipate emerging threats. It also gathers oral testimonies of people in the region, recording their response to their campaign.

The final section pulls together the discrete campaign elements, looks at good practices and future plans. It throws light on MPAs successes, as well as the core challenges it faces and its burgeoning partnerships. It describes how the campaign is moving forward by evolving a framework, to be made operational through a set of key processes, that will enable people to make decisions about their concerns.

Click here to read the complete report

Click here to read more about Megh Pyne Abhiyan


Briefing papers on ‘Jal kothis’, ‘Matka filter’, 'Dug wells' and ‘Phayedemand shauchalaya’: Local innovative solutions in flood prone Bihar by Megh Pyne Abhiyan (2011)

Megh Pyne Abhiyan

Megh Pyne Abhiyan, supported by Arghyam, has been working towards self-reliance and access to safe drinking water and secure sanitation, in 22 panchayats of five flood-prone districts of north Bihar. Briefing papers to a few innovative localized solutions are given below

  1. Jal Kothis: A locally innovative rainwater storage structure in flood affected areas
  2. Matka Filter: An indigenous solution to iron contaminated water in Bihar
  3. Phayedemand Shauchalaya: Design and technical details of a beneficial toilet
  4. Dug wells: A potential safe source of drinking water for arsenic and iron contaminated region 

Jal Kothis: A locally innovative rainwater storage structure in flood affected areas

Jal KothiFor people of Bihar, floods are a recurrent problem affecting their crops, livestock and living conditions. Most water sources including the wells and ponds become flooded or water logged during monsoons.  Surrounded by dirty , polluted water during the floods, people are nevertheless forced to use the same for drinking and cooking food. This is a major problem for flood affected areas where clean drinking water is unavailable, affecting the health of the concerned communities.

To overcome this, Megh Pyne Abhiyan, a campaign and functional network, began work on a project to provide clean drinking water during floods in a few districts of Bihar.  In collaboration with Savera  and Water Action groups, the idea was to collect rainwater and use it for drinking and cooking. Initial trials included plastic and mud containers, but were discontinued due to problems of odour, pollution and easy breakage.

The long term solution was to create a water container that would store water for a greater period of time. Experiments were carried out and the existing age old grain storage structure was innovated and modified into a rainwater storage facility now known as ‘Jal Kothi’.

Various designs with varying storage capacity and raw materials have been developed locally with the help of skilled craft persons and masons. The construction procedure and materials required are detailed in this paper.

These locally innovative ‘Jal Kothis’ not only allow flood affected people to store clean water in sufficient amount but also provides employment opportunities to local craftsmen.

Click here to read the full briefing paper

Go to top

Matka Filter: An indigenous solution to iron contaminated water in Bihar

Matka FilterNorthern Bihar is a flood prone area where drinking water has a high iron content. Survey carried out in this area brought out the issue of high iron content in groundwater in the area. Though government had initiated ‘ Kosi Amrit Drinking Water Scheme’ in some districts which included iron removal units, it was unable to reach all concerned people.

A local technique to gauge presence of iron in water was known, but the actual contamination level could not be ascertained. A survey with the help of ‘ Development Alternatives’ was carried out to measure this . Based on the findings the necessity of iron free water was felt.

A modified ‘Matka’ filter was the outcome of this study which had the advantage of following a local technique along with providing iron free water. This specially designed mud water filter is made out of locally available clay, sand, charcoal and brick .The demand for matka filters has provided the local potters with an opportunity to strengthen their traditional livelihood practice .

The materials required, construction techniques and expenses involved are all described in the paper. The advantages and precautions to be taken have also been detailed.

Click here to read complete briefing paper

Go to top

Phayedemand Shauchalaya: Design and technical details of a beneficial toilet

Phyedemand ShauchalayaFour months of floods in north Bihar plays havoc with the sanitation conditions of the people living in these areas. More affected are women, children, the old and the infirm when the existing toilets are submerged in the flood waters. Even when the floods recede, defecation is usually carried out in the open, close to the living areas. This faecal matter pollutes the water, increasing the risk of water borne diseases like typhoid, cholera etc.

The’ Phayedemand Shauchalaya’ aka  beneficial toilet is different from the usual one, protecting and conserving water. It has separate collection tanks for urine and faecal matter, which are built above the ground.It is not only cheap and long lasting, but also prevents water wastage.  It can be used both during and after the floods conveniently.

Megh Pyne Abhiyan (MPA) collaborated with Biome, local agencies and village panchayats to bring this concept to 5 flood affected districts in Bihar. Design details, material required and construction procedure are all explained in this paper.

Click here to read the full briefing paper

Go to top


Dug wells- A potential safe source of drinking water for arsenic and iron contaminated region in north Bihar 

With the invention and large scale marketing of hand pumps, dug wells slowly started losing its significance. This had led to the transformation of theDug Well wells into dumping yards of garbage and also a place, above which houses are getting constructed. However, Megh Pyne Abhiyan, a campaign and functional network started a dug well project in rural Bihar. Though initially a lot of resistance came from people against this endeavour of MPA, later on the campaign managed to bring people together to solve the drinking water problem.

Arsenic contamination of groundwater has been recognised by Megh Pyne Abhiyan (MPA) in 15 districts of north Bihar. The contamination has profound impact on human health that hampers people’s productivity and thereby affecting their livelihood. MPA has collaborated with Advanced Centre for Groundwater Development and Management (ACWADAM), Biome Solutions, Development Alternatives (DA) to understand the groundwater dynamics of the region that includes issues of water quality and its linkages to drinking water and sanitation. The details of this project is elaborated in the paper.

Click here to read the full briefing paper.


Climate change adaptation in water management for food security - A consultation meeting by India Water Partnership

Guest post: India Water Partnership

A consultation meeting was held by the India Water Partnership with the purpose of presenting a draft research paper on “Climate change adaptation in water management for food security: Recent developments in India”. The meeting held on 22nd November, 2012 at the Institute for Human Development, New Delhi was followed by a discussion which included comments and suggestions of the experts and participants.

The meeting was chaired by Prof. S R Hashim, President, India Water Partnership who was accompanied by Dr. Akhilesh Gupta, Adviser & Head, Climate Change Programme, Department of Science & Technology, Government of India and Dr. A D Mohile, Former Chairman, International Commission for Irrigation and Drainage & Central Water Commission as the main panelists. 

IWP meeting photo

Consultation meeting on "Climate change adaptation in water management for food security"

Image: India Water Partnership

Read More

River Bagmati: Bounties become a curse – A book by Dinesh Kumar Mishra


In this book, Dr. Dinesh Kumar Mishra has tried to put all the available information about the river Bagmati in one place. He has explained not only about floods but also about politics of embankments and its relevance. He reviews events from ancient time to the present based on historical review and first-hand knowledge of the ground realities and social conditions by visiting most villages in the basin and engaging with the local people. He has also suggested some alternatives about how to manage the river so that people of the area can be saved from deluge.

Read More


Caste discrimination in disaster situations in India - Reports by National Dalit Watch

The National Dalit Watch (NDW), an effort spearheaded by the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights has prepared a number of  reports on rampant caste discrimination and the urgent need for protection of human rights, particularly Dalit human rights during disaster situations. 

Dalits in disasters – The forsaken ones

Video courtesy: Lee Macqueen, National Dalit Watch-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights

Read More

Download these documents : Size
A preliminary assessment of caste discrimination in Cyclone Thane (2012)1.19 MB
Exclusion of Dalits in the flood rehabilitation in Bijapur district, Karnataka (2010)16.01 MB
For a morsel of life! - A ‘Dalit Watch’ report on the flood relief camps in Bihar (2008)849.26 KB
Making things worse – ‘Caste blindness’ in Indian post tsunami disaster recovery (2007)954.48 KB
Bihar floods - The affected and the relief & rehabilitation (2007)671.62 KB
The excluded in relief and rehabilitation - Post-flood situation of Dalit victims - AP floods (2009)3.38 MB
The uncertainties of life… living through waters of dejection (2010)1.29 MB
Syndicate content
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 India License.