Why Boats Are Important in Bihar

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Each year, floods follow rain in Bihar and impacts the daily lives of millions of people in the state. So how do they save themselves each year? The answer is through boats.

North Bihar has a thriving boat building business because boats are needed to travel through canals whenever it floods in the area. The sales of boats rise, especially from August to November.

A short documentary by PARI (People’s Archive of Rural India) showcases how important the boats are to the people in the region. The video is available here : http://bit.ly/2ejF2Z0

Image Link: https://ruralindiaonline.org/articles/vote-for-boat/

The boats are used for different purposes like catching fish and working around farmland. They are also used in the areas affected by floods. The size and cost of the boats vary. Bigger the boats, higher go the cost. But generally they cost between Rs. 7000 to Rs. 8000. The bigger ones of 15ft and 18ft costs Rs. 11000 to Rs. 12000 and when the demand increases, the rates increase as well.

The boat-maker say that the boats get cold every month, but during the rainy season, the sale increases. In the area of Saharsa district, the boats are extensively used for transportation during the rainy season. Prime example of this are the people living near the river Koshi. The boats help them to come out of their house, which is difficult to do during the rainy season as the entire area is full of water and transportation without boat is very hard.

Between August – November, the boat makers build about 15 to 20 boats in one and a half months on an average. The boats are made by local carpenters who have mastered the art and this work provides them bread and butter for a living.

Floods in Bihar

Every year, rain in Bihar is followed by floods that displace and disrupt the lives of millions of people. Out of the entire Indian population which is affected by floods, 22 percent live in Bihar. The recent most serious floods that came to the state was in 2013. In that year, about 5.9 million people in 3,768 villages across 20 districts of the state were affected.

Reasons for Flood

The biggest reason cited for floods in Bihar is Nepal’s mountainous region. The rivers Koshi, Narayani and Bagmati are flooded when heavy rains fall on the mountains of Nepal. This is because the water flows into these rivers and thus they overflow and impact the daily lives of the people.

The embankments situated to help the situation have been useless for the sole reason of water-logging between the high and low lands. On the other hand, deforestation in the catchment areas of the rivers like Koshi has been rampant, which is why water flows into the villages causing floods.

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