Bihar Flood: Recent News Articles

Following are a few select articles highlighting the ground realities of the Bihar Flood. Flood related issues from India & Nepal are the focus of the articles. The collection tries to collate the exact nature of the problems faced by the displaced populace and what the civic authorities can do to ease the pain.

Experts find fault with repair work on Kosi embankment Himalayan News Service, Rajbiraj, November 4

Water resource experts today accused the governments of Nepal and India of ignoring the problems associated with Saptakoshi floods. Speaking at an interaction organised here today by Saptari chapter of Saptakoshi Flood Victims' Society (SFVS), former minister and water resources expert Dipak Gyawali said the repair work on the breached embankments was not being done in a dependable manner. "It is not possible to tame the river merely by piling sand. Such a repair will not solve the problem," he added. Accusing the Nepali and Indian governments of not taking the issue seriously, Gyawali stressed the need to search solutions to the problem at the civil society and intellectuals' level.

Chairman of Water and Energy Consumers' Forum Nepal Ram Chandra Chataut alleged that the construction of pilot channel was going on without any concrete plan. "The channel under construction now will not bear even the winter rain," Chataut claimed. Saying that sand has desertified all arable land in the affected areas, Chataut said cultivation would not be possible there for the next five decades. "There is a need to provide jobs to the flood victims and rehabilitate them. But the government is not showing any concern to solve this problem," he said.

Chairman of the Saptari chapter of SFVS Dev Narayan Yadav said the government was doing nothing apart from resettling the victims. "Though the flood has affected over 65,000 people in Nepal and over 35 lakhs in India, the governments of both the countries are not showing any concern to address their plight," Yadav said. Earlier, a joint team of water resource experts from Nepal and India inspected the flood-hit areas in Saptari and Sunsari districts. The Himalayan Times, November 5, 2008.

Failure of pilot channel affects road maintenance

Rajbiraj, Nov. 4

The pilot channel, dug for redirecting Kosi River got failed after over-silting. The failure of pilot channel has further hindered the maintenance of East-West highway and embankment that was breached by flood in the river.

The Dresser machine, which was brought by Indian Contractor for de-silting, has not come into operation. Indian technicians had brought the machine after five feet de-silting using Skyvator could not bring the deviated water into its original route.

Indian Government had given the job of returning the Kosi River into its original route to Hindustan Steel Works Construction Limited and the company had begun the de-silting digging from September 15 with aim at completing the job till October 1. Estimated 22 thousand cu sec water is flowing in the river at present.

Minister for Agriculture, Jaya Prakash Gupta said Indian Government should have taken the flood control and embankment reconstruction works as urgent tasks instead of taking it as regular ones and allotting it in contract. The Rising Nepal, November 5, 2008. 

High-level Indian team arrives

POST REPORT
KATHMANDU, Nov. 4

A high-level technical team from India arrived here on Tuesday to study the devastation caused by flooding in the Saptakoshi and work out a long-term solution to the problem. The river breached its embankment at West Kushaha in Sunsari district on Aug. 18, affecting more than 60,000 people in Nepal and 3.2 million in the Indian state of Bihar.

The Indian team led by Chairman of the Central Water Commission of India A.K. Bajaj will tour the Kosi-ravaged areas for two days starting Wednesday. Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Water Resources Shital Babu Regmee, Director General (DG) of the Department of Irrigation (DoI) Madhusudan Poudel, Deputy DG at DoI Anil Pokharel, Deputy DG of the Department of Water Induced Disaster Prevention Khom Raj Dahal and Regional Director of the DoI in Biratnagar Kamal Regmi, among other officials, will also visit the Kosi-ravaged sites together with the Indian team, according to Poudel. Indian Ambassador to Nepal Rakesh Sood will accompany the visiting team.

The Indian team is to seek out a durable solution to the problem of Kosi embankment protection, according to the agreement reached at the Joint Committee on Water Resources (JCWR) talks that concluded in Kathmandu on Oct. 1. The bilateral talks headed by the Water Resources Secretaries of the two countries had recommended that a high level technical team from India visit.

Nepal for a follow-up discussion in the first week of November to find a long-term solution to Kosi flooding.

During the bilateral talks, the two sides said they expected the flow of water from the breached embankment to stop by the middle of December and the Afflux bund, the raised embankment built upstream of the barrage, to be restored by the end of March 2009. The entire responsibility for operation and maintenance of the Kosi Barrage and embankment area falls on India, according to the Nepal-India Kosi Treaty, 1954. The Kathmandu Post, November 5, 2008.

Koshi flood victims not yet compensated

RENU KSHETRY
KATHMANDU, Nov. 4

Although Saptakoshi flood victims have intensified their protests demanding fulfillment of their various demands, including rehabilitation and compensation, no progress has been made on the issue. More than two months have passed since the river breached its spurs and triggered diversions, causing massive floods in various village development committees in Sunsari district.

"The patience of flood victims who have been taking shelter in temporary camps is running out and we have intensified our protests for the fulfillment of the 11-point demand", Bhuwaneshwor Yadav, member of Kosi Flood Victim Struggle Committee told the Post. "The government has turned a deaf ear to our demands. We are left with no choice but to take to the streets."

The floods have displaced 63,000 people of 7,000 families from nine VDCs in Sunsari district, according to the Home Ministry. At present, there are about 32,000 people living in government-run camps in Sunsari district; and 31,000 in Saptari district, according to the Home Ministry.

The committee has announced a week-long protest programme including a district headquarters banda for three days, starting Wednesday. Yadav warned that victims would take "further steps" if the government paid no heed to their demands. "The government will have to bear the consequences", said Yadav.

Under Secretary at the Home Ministry Thir Bahadur GC said that relief efforts have been stepped up drastically from the government side. "For the proper management of settlements, the government is looking for spare land for flood victim accommodation."

GC added, "The Asian Development Bank team paid a visit on Nov. 1 to assess the damage caused by floods and the team had left for Dhangadi yesterday to study floods in the Far West."

The Indian government had announced a grant of Indian Rs. 200 million for flood relief when Prime Minister Pushpakamal Dahal visited New Delhi in September. The Indian government had also said it would rebuild the segments of the East-West Highway damaged by the recent Kosi flood. Shyamananda Suman, advisor to Foreign Minister Upendra Yadav, said, "The demands of the Kosi flood victims are genuine and the government is making all necessary efforts to speed up the process to provide compensation for damage caused by the floods." Suman said, the Indian government was positive about supporting flood victims and high level technical experts were working to assess the devastation caused by the Saptakoshi.

Acknowledging that there has been some delay in providing compensation, Suman said that the Foreign Ministry was doing its best to speed up the process. According to the Nepal-India Kosi Treaty of 1954, it is the Indian government's responsibility to compensate for damage caused by the Saptakoshi. Gopal Bagley, spokesman at the Indian Embassy, said the Indian government has "followed up on the understanding reached at the highest political level between the two countries during the prime minister's visit to India." The Kathmandu Post, November 5, 2008.

Nepal asks India to ease Laxmanpur inundation

POST REPORT
KATHMANDU, Nov 4

The government has asked India to resolve the problem of inundation caused by constructions across the border from Banke district, officials said on Tuesday.

The Ministry of Water Resources wrote a letter to the Indian government on Sunday to improve the design proposed by India for providing unregulated passage to Gandheli and Sotia nalas (drains). The current embankment along the drains cause inundation in nine VDCs covering 40 square kilometers along the Nepal-India border in Banke district every monsoon.

"We have recommended options for further improvements," said Senior Divisional Engineer Keshav Dhoj Adhikari at the ministry. "But the design put forth by India has not been rejected either."

Flow in the drains is blocked due to the embankment, which extends up to Laxmanpur Barrage, six kilometres downstream from the border.

The Indian delegation had submitted a detailed proposal to Nepal during the Nepal-India Joint Committee on Water Resources (JCWR) talks that concluded in Kathmandu on Oct. 1. Water resources secretaries from both countries had headed the talks.

India has included a design in the proposal to allow natural flow of 40 cu mec [cubic metres per second] of water from the structure to drain water and submitted it to Nepal for comments. The Nepali side had said it would send its comments on the proposed structure by the end of October.

During bilateral talks at the High Level Technical Committee in October 2004 in Kathmandu, Indian representatives had agreed to give unregulated outlet to water blocked in Nepali territory. The Kathmandu Post, November 5, 2008

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