Bihar water resources team, led by minister Sanjay Kumar Jha, on visit to the US

Ritu Jha-

Bihar government officials led by the state’s water resources minister, Sanjay Kumar Jha, were recently on a visit to the US and Netherlands to learn about water management and early flood warning system to help Bihar tackle its flood situation.

Jha spoke to indica on the sidelines of the community event hosted by Bihar Foundation of USA in San Francisco, on Feb 24. “Bihar has arrived with the changes that have already taken place, a silent revolution, and the ones that are in the pipeline,” Jha said. “We visited Denver to see the water work there. We were in San Francisco and visited Google. We want to learn as much as we can about advanced technology to set up an early warning system for floods, flood forecasting, irrigation management, and water budget. In Bihar water is a key subject, particularly in north Bihar which is a water surplus area while south Bihar is a water-scarce area. We face floods every year in North Bihar.”

He said Bihar wants to imbibe better technology to provide early warnings and provide better water management solutions. “We are confident we will minimize the impact of floods and provide irrigation facilities to every farm in Bihar.”

The team from Bihar’s water resources department visited National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Denver. “We will soon sign an MOU with NCAR. It will provide us with technical knowhow and enable us equip panchayats in Bihar with weather forecasting. So, things are moving fast in Bihar, it’s a happening state. Bihar has arrived.”

The Bihar team also visited Sacramento. “My engineers went to Amsterdam and Sacramento to see the best practices in water and flood management. We will take back everything that we see and learn to Bihar. We are going to set up a Physical Modelling Center.”

Manoj Raman, chief engineer of Bihar’s Kosi project, water resources department, also spoke to indica on the sidelines. “We came here to visit the Centre of Excellence in the Netherlands and NCAR in Denver. We visited NCAR’s headquarters in Boulder, Colorado to know about the models that they have developed for forecasting and early warning systems.”

“We are preparing to sign an MOU with NCAR so that we can develop a flood forecasting model in our state. The technology is based on data that will ensure the accuracy of the forecasts.”

Raman added: “We have developed a Flood Management Improvement Support Centre in Patna under the water resources department. But we want to modernize it. We do a lot of work for flood mitigation but if we get an early warning, then we will be well prepared and will be able to save the life and property of the public.”

The search for the right water management and flood forecasting system also took the team from Bihar to the University of California, Davis. “We also learned a lot at UC Davis during the sessions they held for us. The university’s water resources management team demonstrated how they are working on these issues. They gave a presentation to us about what they are doing and how they are succeeding. We will take some lessons from them.”

The water resources team from Bihar has taken lessons in the storage of flood and rainwater from NCAR. Jha said, “Bihar has a large population density and whenever there’s a flood, a large section of people suffers. But the state has done a lot and we are always prepared for the safety of people.”

After their tour in US and Netherlands, the water resources team from Bihar plans to further strengthen the flood mitigation project by constructing reservoirs. “To lessen the devastating impact of floods we will construct some more reservoirs in their way. Bihar has enough funds to facilitate this, the only thing that we want to adopt is the latest technologies. The Netherlands and some centers of the US have already developed this technology. That’s why we are here, trying to get that technology and apply it to our state,” Raman added.

During his speech Jha did not confirm it but said he hopes Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar will visit the US and urged the Silicon Valley attendees to give suggestions and ideas to improve Bihar, for it has the potential to reach the top five states of India.

Rajiv Sinha, the co-founder and chairman of the Bihar Foundation USA, and his team shared with the minister how the Bihar Foundation, nonprofit support and helps the underserved community through the ‘adopt-a-village’ program. He urged the minister to ask the chief minister to lead a business delegation to Silicon Valley and said, “would offer whatever support they need…we want to see the growth of Bihar.”

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