Today was the second day of Kosi River tour. If you haven’t read the first part here it is – Along the Kosi River Day 1.
Woke up early and left Nirmali around 6 AM. It was foggy outside but not much to disturb the ride.
Not going back from the road where I entered Nirmali, this time I rode through the town and came on the ring road.
Later I came to know that Nirmali has been a victim of Kosi for a long time. To protect it from the deadly water of Kosi, Nirmali was encircled with ring bandh i.e. embanked from all the sides. This bandh would restrict the flood water from entering the town of Nirmali.
I had a long discussion with him on Kosi floods. He said
Why are you talking about Kosi floods only?
Bhutahi Balan river which flows from the western edge of Nirmali is more dangerous. Nobody comes out of the Bhutahi Balan flood due to the amount of silt she brings.
We are trapped from both the sides. On top of that Barrage and Embankments have failed to do for what they were designed.
Only God knows what will happen?
Ring bandh was a kutcha road with hut settlements on the inner side. Huts were probably of the people displaced due to the bandh. Soon the ring road joined back on the highway.
I had to cross the Kosi Mahasetu and ride on the eastern embankment of Kosi river up to Bhimnagar.
Crossing the Kosi Mahasetu
The highway was much foggier compared to Nirmali. Visibility was poor may be less than 100 meters. It may be due to the nearness of Kosi water.
Highway looked devoid of passenger vehicles. Lorries and vans of Cow smugglers were the only things I could see.
Mahasetu was not far from Nirmali and very soon I reached the bridge. It is massive.
I wished to see the river from the bridge but the fog on the river water was such that nothing was visible down below.
Crossed the Kosi bridge and took left from Bhaptiahi.
Riding on the Eastern Kosi Embankment
From Bhaptiahi I left the highway and came on the eastern embankment of Kosi river. This embankment runs up till Kosi barrage.
The embankment is at a good height from the river basin. It serves a dual purpose, one as a kutcha road for locals and military and second for stopping the flood water of Kosi entering into habitation.
Indo-Nepal border is very close to here. I was stopped near an army post and enquired about my whereabouts.
My explanation of touring the Kosi didn’t go down to the soldier. The jawan kept on asking why do you want to understand the river?
Finally, an ID card of mine as a content writer for a local magazine did the job. Jawan was convinced that I was not a wrong person and showed me the way to a new Spur being created on the Kosi.
At a new Spur under construction near Kosi Barrage
Spurs are used to reduce the cutting of embankment by floodwater. They extend for some length in 90 degrees from the embankment towards the river.
It was the first close view of the Kosi river.
I was overwhelmed. I touched the clear water and felt like I am touching the melted ice at the top of the Everest.
Looking at the river water which was as calm as lake it was impossible to think that these waters would cause unparalleled destruction during monsoon.
Spent some time there and moved ahead towards the Eastern main Kosi Canal.
In Nepal border for a short while
Reached a T junction where the left goes to Nepal and right towards Bhimnagar town. Took left and crossed the Indo Nepal border.
A barricade was laid just before the actual border. It was supervised by the Indian Army.
I got a scolding from them for not following the rules 😀
I was supposed to get down from my bike and push it through the Army check post, maybe for around 50 meters.
Behaving like a hero I kept riding ahead when a rifled jawan shouted at me ‘utroge nahi bike se?’ I said ‘haan utar hi raha tha’ 😛
I was enquired again. Moved ahead towards the Nepal check post.
To cross the India Nepal border post we have to take ‘Bhansar’ or permit.
Bhansar can be taken for 1 day, 2 days, etc. Permit charges are laid accordingly. To cross the border along with our vehicle, all we have to do is present original RC Card, Insurance and PUC, that’s it.
This was my last point of the tour. I was here to see the Kosi barrage and it was few meters ahead. I parked the bike before Nepal custom office and took a walk on the Kosi Barrage.
Kosi Barrage at Bhimnagar near Indo Nepal border
Kosi river is squeezed to less than a kilometre here.
Flow of the river is controlled by several sluice gates. Opened number of gates determine the quantity of water entering in India border.
Though it was built as a flood control measure but it has worked contrary to its purpose.
I descended towards the river and took out a bottle from my bag. Filled it with the water of the Kosi river. This is what I for every river I tour.
Left the Kosi Barrage and rode along the Eastern main Kosi Canal later taking a turn towards the border town of Bhimnagar. The scenery along the road was man bhaavan 🙂
Bhimnagar, Supaul district
Reached Bhimnagar in less than 10 minutes. A long queue of trucks were waiting to cross the border and enter Nepal.
Spotted a Vaishnav dhaba and had a hearty Bihari lunch.
The owner was an interesting person. I gained a good amount of information about the previous and current floods situation.
If I were to trust his words, it must be bhayavah ‘hell scary’ situation at the time of the flood.
Dhaba uncle was insisting to visit Biratnagar citing to be very beautiful and clean. Hopefully, I would visit there soon.
Riding on the Eastern Kosi Embankment towards Supaul
Left Bhimnagar and took the highway for Supaul city. As I passed Simrahi, I brought my bike on the East Kosi embankment.
Again the tatbandh (embankment) was used as a kutcha road and ran for quite a distance.
Riding on the tatbandh, on the right-hand side was the vast expanse of Kosi river and on the left side were villages in bits and pieces.
I could spot few farms and houses on the inner side of the embankment. According to the government, 100% of the people living inside the embankment were rehabilitated but frankly speaking, this didn’t seem true.
With the people I interacted, most of them blamed the government policies. Also, they strongly criticised the rehabilitation process. People received money on papers but not in hand.
If I were to ask to take a side, I would certainly be with the local folks and here is the reason
- After riding extensively and following the complete route of Kosi all I would say for disaster preparedness was ‘Government is not at all serious’
- Rarely I encountered a village with flood shelter building, floatable boats or life jackets.
- There isn’t any warning system in place by the authorities. This is extremely sad when we speak that our freedom is 67 years old and Kosi river floods the north Bihar at least twice or thrice a decade.
- No political party can claim that they created any kind of sahkari sanstha (local self-help groups) for displaced. Nothing can be worse than losing the only land you have. This has led to mass migration of villagers to metro cities in search of livelihood.
I rode on the embankment till Baluaha ghat bridge. This is the second bridge on the Kosi river after the Kosi Mahasetu at Bhimnagar.
Waterlogging in the farms was every evident throughout Saharsa
After reaching Supaul I kept riding towards Saharsa. Farms were logged with water all over.
One would easily spot several long narrow and shallow boat in the waterlogged farms.
Flood water of Kosi spilled through the embankment and waterlogged the areas of Saharsa. Farms were practically rendered useless as water hyacinth was all over the place.
It seemed I was riding amidst lakes.
By the time I reached Saharsa, it was 6 PM. It was dark already. Roamed for half an hour in search of ATM and cheap and nice hotel. After trying almost every ATM in nooks and corner of Saharsa I managed to withdraw money.
One suggestion for anyone trying this route.
Don’t assume that you will surely get an ATM with money (this was in 2017). Once you cross Muzaffarpur everything is uncertain.
You may get a functioning ATM or may not. It’s better to keep cash in hand.
For today’s night, I checked in Hotel Rajmitra for Rs. 450 per night. A decent attached room and poor service as expected. The last thing was looking for a veg restaurant.
Tried a Marwadi bhojanalay near Railway station. Thali was for Rs. 40 and food was below average.
Came back and dozed off. Tomorrow was going to be a curious day as I would get to see the Dumri ghat.