Monday, December 13
The Kosi experiance
Everytime I go into Kosi flood plains, there is always something positive to learn,a bit of fear & a lot to be thankful about.
This time, while going to Madhepura we were confronted with a dead bridge. The B.P.Mandal Setu is a newish rcc bridge,perhaps more than a kilometer long. Its situated on NH 107 and joins Madhepura with NH 30.The bridge has been closed recently as the midspan support pillars have sunk in.
Thus, to go to madhepura,if you have your vehicle,easier option was to cross the river by a boat. These country made boats are fitted with a diesel engine commonly used for pumping water and modified to drive the propeller.
Portable ramps made of bamboo are used to load & unload the vehicle. Once the vehicle is loaded,it is secured in its place by wedging sandbags or stone blocks in front of its wheels.
Its not the best looking boat, but its sturdy and it works. We loaded our 2.5ton vehicle on the boat..and it creaked and jarred all the way up the deck where it was secured.
As the engine caught on, the steady diesel engine chatter was reassuring,but it did not remain that way for long..about two third way down the river, the boat hit a sandbar and lodged itself right into it...and the over strained engine spluttered to a stop.
The boatmen then tried to make a under current channel by using anchors to scrape sand and directing the undercurrent of the river to dislodge the boat. The strain on the anchor was too much & the anchor broke. Having no other option, the elder of the two boatman waded through the river, went to his place about a a km away and hauled a heavy anchor all the way back to the boat and replaced the broken anchor.
They again started working the current towards the boat and finally after about two hours, the boat was free.
These guys have shown immense courage and presence of mind apart from the boating skill they grow up with. No wonder, guys like them saved thousands of lives during the floods. For them water is life & boats their livelyhood.
They did not accept any extra money and were happy with whatever rates the government has fixed for them. It was humbling to see the amount of work they do,the kind of risks they take & yet happy & satiated with what whatever life has offered them.