The Kosi river flows through the densely populated north-east Bihar, where people mostly depend on farming, fishing and cattle. They also make good use of the bamboo, reed, wild sugarcane and jute growing along the river. Notorious for changing its course and flooding, the river was embanked soon after Independence but with some painful consequences.
More than 1 million people living within the embankments of the Kosi have to cross the river streams on a boat to go anywhere, be it market, government office, hospital or police station. Credit: Vikas Choudhary
Mahadalit fishers in a village in Mahishi process fox nut or makhana. Saharsa has been known for growing makhana. Earlier, as the river would recede after the monsoon, the depressions would be filled with water, where people would grow makhana. The river is no more allowed to spread and replenish ponds, so makhana farming has shrunk. Credit: Vikas Choudhary
Boats are an integral part of people's lives in the Kosi region. Jamun wood is prized for making boats but is no more abundantly available. Instead jungle jalebi that grows in the wild is more commonly used. Credit: Vikas Choudhary
A man carries bamboo baskets to a pond for catching fish. These baskets are designed in such a way that fish can enter them but not exit. Fishing is an important economic activity, but it is hampered by disappearing ponds and extensive waterlogging. Credit: Vikas Choudhary
Women dry jute fibre on the embankment. In Supaul, jute is grown extensively in waterlogged areas and ponds along the embankments. Credit: Vikas Choudhary
A woman wades through the river with a bundle of harvested crop on her head. The river flows in a braided fashion within the embankment where people have their fields. Credit: Vikas Choudhary
Dried pater, or reed, is loaded on a vehicle for transportation. Pater growing along the river is used for making thatches and mats. Credit: Vikas Choudhary
This building near a village in Supaul is constructed to shelter people when the Kosi floods. Ironically, it is surrounded by water all the time as the embankments have blocked drainage and the river water seeps outside the embankments. Credit: Vikas Choudhary
Since the Kosi carries high sediment load, it is constantly eroding its banks. It keeps devouring the fields along with the crops. Paddy is the most common crop. Credit: Vikas Choudhary
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