My two grand sons, six and three years of age, are in giggles. They are floating paper boats in their bed room. They are happy. They wade in water inside the house. The elder one splashes some water on the younger one. He cries. Soon a fight ensues. Both fall down in the water, some 12 inches deep and are drenched. Her mother comes rushing and chides-cajoles them. Clothes are changed. The clock ticks by. An hour later the scene is repeated. The paper boats float, water splash flies and the duel begins ending in drenching. The angry-looking mom laughs in her sleeves. Her utensils too are floating in the mod kitchen. She up-rolls her ‘sari’ and cooks the meal. This has been her routine for the last four days (on June 16, 2008).
    The scene is not peculiar to any one house. This is the life in the gargantuan Kankarbagh, once Asia’s largest ‘well-planned’ housing colony. The deluge has been visiting the area for the last ten years without a break. Even a small rainfall wreaks havoc. Though a few have sold their dwellings to live outside this ‘flood zone’, majority of the residents cling on in the hope of a ‘sunny’ rainy season from the next year. Political rulers of the day promise to free the area from next year. One dream merchant vows to make Patna roads as smooth as the cheeks of Hema Malini while others swear to make it Parish of Bihar. Lofty promises rain in year after year but the dark tunnel appears endless.
    The Srikrishna Nagar residents have no better fortune. In fact, all government-planned colonies in the State capital have identical tales to tell. Rajendra Nagar has been encountering water-logging and inundation for more than two decades. It should sound absurd but it is a hard fact that private colonies rarely face such oddities. Why and how such situations crop up in the colonies planned and developed by government agencies? An answer is not difficult to find out. It lies buried in the probe reports in the government archives. Open loot by powerful contractors and engineers leave little fund for the work to be done properly. The execution remains topsy-turvy. Under-ground drains and sewerage lines are bedevilled by missing links. And, subsequent poor or no upkeep confounds the problems. In the Kankarbagh Colony the B type houses in the west-south of Panchmandir have no drain links to disgorge used domestic water.
    The reconstruction of roads too has been aggravating the water-logging problem. People were happy when parliamentarian fund bonanza came. Every lane and by-lane got cement concrete roads, thanks to the parliamentarian-legislators’ fund. But, in course of time, this blessing became big curse. These roads were not constructed properly. Rules and norms were observed more in violation. It is provided that before building any road contractors have to dig it up and throw out old materials and then only new road is to be constructed. This norm is never adhered to. As a result, roads became higher than the house-level. Moreover, broken roads used to serve as drains. Now rainwater mingled with drain water inundates dwellings. The water-logging continues till sunrays kiss away or earth soaks the water.
    When Gandhi Setu across the Ganga was built at Patna to link northern and southern parts of the State, it was expected that the inflow of people would rise many a time. The Patna Improvement Trust (precursor of the present Patna Regional Development Authority) churned out a lofty master plan to pre-empt the population explosion. After much hullabaloo, construction of a new Patna Bypass road was taken up only. Others remained in the cold. For years together the New Bypass remained incomplete. This road turned out to be a major catalyst for water-logging in the southern part of the cursed State capital. Over-delayed Patna beautification plan added to the confusion.
    Currently, Patna is undergoing a metamorphosis. A string of road over-bridges are under execution. Almost all roads in the zones are dug up. Over-delay in completion and early outbreak of the Monsoon this year have created such a vicious quagmire that the Patna-ites have no escape from wading through mud and slush on the roads this rainy season. Inundation of dwelling houses has come as a bonus of the unplanned and tardy execution of development schemes by the government agencies. As if, this was not enough. In the name of draining out rain waters from the southern party of the State capital big drains were dug out but not completed on time. As a result, they became big canals. This aggravated the water-logging problem further. The roads become muddy and slushy. The water accumulation has damaged almost all roads. Two and three- wheelers fall in cavities under swirling water. And the political meddling has made the Patna life worse than a hell!
    Caged life
    It is day seven. The populated areas of the State capital remained drowned in rain-drain water. Patna is dug up. Of course, exceptions are the areas where political rulers and bureaucrats work and live. The commoners are holed up in watery cage. Women, young and old, wade through three knee-thigh deep water. It is really a tight rope walk for the ladies to keep their up-rolled cloths up and babes on shoulders or laps. Rickshaw-pullers dread to tread the once trodden roads. They don’t know if rains have caused new cavities or potholes. Auto-rickshaws have doubled the fare. The road side vegetable markets are lost in vast sheets of water. Prices have shot up. Even political leaders and ministers dare not enter the ‘flooded’ residential areas to peddle dreams of the brightest tomorrow.
    The rain-god has been shedding copious tears, may be, on the rip van winkle sleep of the rulers that be. There is no Krishna to lift the Gobardhan Mountain and rescue people from the wrath of Indra, the rain god. Nor is there the legendry saint, Jahnavi, who had drunk dry the cascading Ganga during her descent from the heavens to the earth. These are tales of the Bhagawat Mahapuran (a Hindu epic). There is a tale that suits the occasion more aptly. A folk lore says that in the beginning of creation, the sky was quite low. People felt difficulties even in standing erect. They could crawl only. A harassed lady was one day husking paddy in a ‘Dhenki’ (long wooden plank with a shovel-like contraption to un-coil grains from chaffs). Angry as she was. She hit the sky so hard with the ‘Dhenki’ that the sky flew up to the present height. It might be that the legendry angry lady might have pierced a big hole in the Indra’s water storage system (clouds). This might have caused the cloud bust and Patna is drowned. The Monsoon has arrived full 15 days ahead of the schedule, no doubt. But has it come for Patna alone? Other parts of Bihar, in rural areas especially, where water is needed to kick off the cultivation season, have reported scanty or no rains. Have rains come to prove the prophesy Gautam Buddha true? He had said ‘fire, flood and feud’ would constantly nag Patna.
    God is angry. Government is on the periphery. The accumulated water level continues to spiral up. Water-borne sores have developed in the feet, especially of house-wives. They have to cook standing in knee-deep water in kitchens. Children can not play around, not to talk of going outside the house. All are helpless. But even in these hard moments people have some laughs. On a Sunday my washer man came to take dirty clothings. Seeing the sheets of water in the living rooms he jokingly said. ‘This should have been my house. I would not need to go out to streams to wash cloths’! But all of us can not become washer men. Can you? The Patna-ites have no options but to pray. ‘Rain, rain, go away. Don’t come another day. Listen, O Almighty super boss. Push us not onto the cross. We want our way. Rain, rain, go away’.
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