News reports from the Nepali media

A collection of many news reports from the Nepali media

Materials crunch mars repairs

BY THIRA L BHUSAL / SHANKAR KHAREL

WEST KUSAHA (SUNSARI), Aug 31 - Workers deployed to repair spurs and stop the eastward diversion of the Koshi River at West Kusaha are in urgent need of construction materials, officials said. "We are running out of nylon crates, galvanized iron crates and sacks which are essential to repair and protect the spurs," an engineer from Department of Water-Induced Disaster Prevention (DWIDP), Biratnagar, stationed at the site said. If more materials are not immediately supplied to the sites, work will come to a halt, he told the Post. According to him, workers rely on materials DWIDP of Nepal provide to Indian authorities. "We are running out of stock provided by Nepal but the Indian side has not made any arrangement so far," the engineer said.
 
Nepali authorities made emergency arrangement of materials in view of the urgency, officials said. DWIDP provided about 35,000 sacks while local contractors selected by Indian authorities arranged 20,000 more sacks.  So far, 55,000 sacks have been arranged while 30,000 were used as of Sunday, officials and contractors at the site said. Likewise, Nepali authorities have provided 400 sets of nylon crates and 50 sets of galvanized iron crates so far. "We immediately need at least 400 more crates to continue repair work," the engineer said.

"It was just a temporary and preliminary arrangement. The Indian authorities need to provide sufficient materials to speed up construction and maintenance work," he said. For a week, Indian officials have been saying they will start work on a war-footing but work at the site has yet to gear up. Around 400 workers are repairing a spur at 13.6 kilometers north of Koshi barrage. This spur has eroded 50 meters so far. Its total length is over 200 meters. The raging river has been consistently hitting the spur, and it has become crucial to stop the Koshi from diverting eastward.

Koshi River has been continuously eroding its spurs and embankment. On August 18, a swollen Koshi destroyed two spurs at 11.1 and 11.9 kilometers and submerged several villages. Over 30,000 locals fled their homes to safety.

Source: The Kathmandu Post, 01 September 2008


Deaths, displacement up as deluge hits life

5 Saptokoshi displaced die of diarrhea

SUNSARI, Aug 31 -  Five displaced persons of the Saptokoshi flooding, including an Indian national, died of diarrhea in Koshi Barrage camp in the course of  past 24 hours. Tejan Sada, 56, and Ramba Sada, 6, of Shripur died on Saturday evening, police said. They were receiving treatment from a medical team at the camp. Similarly, Ram Bahadur Rai and a woman, who is yet to be ascertained, of Hariharpur-1 breathed their last while undergoing treatment on Sunday. Likewise, one Kabutari  Devi Poddar, 65, of Supaul of India died of the same disease on Sunday. District Public Health Office Sunsari said that more than 17,000 displaced people at different 29 camps in the district have fallen sick, over two dozens seriously.


Flood kills 7,000 livestock

BIRATNAGAR - Some 7,000 livestock were killed and 78,000 others affected in aftermath of the Saptakoshi embankment breach in Sunsari and Saptari districts. According to the director at Regional Veterinary Service Directorate Biratnagar, Shibendra Kumar Singh, 6,799 livestock were killed at flood-hit Kusaha, Laukahi, Hariharpur and Shripur VDCs in Sunsari due to the flood. "The livestock died in such a huge number as we could not rescue them and provide the relief to other affected ones," he said.


People increasing in  camps for displaced

SUNSARI - About 1,000 Saptakoshi flood victims came at various 29 displaced camps here in the district on Sunday alone. With this, the official data of the displaced people who are taking shelter at various camps in the district reaches approximately 28,000. Chief District Officer, Durga Bhandari, admitted that the number of displaced persons increased day by day. These 1,000 displaced people demanded the government to provide them relief materials and manage for the shelter. Sources said that the administration started its works to provide them food, shelter and other necessary services.


27,000 displaced received treatment

DHARAN - District Public Health Office (DPHO) Sunsari said that it had spent about two million rupees on medicines and other health related materials for the treatment of 27,551 displaced persons in the district. Organizing a press meet at Inaruwa on Sunday, the DPHO said that it had the amount while providing free of cost treatment to the flood victims. The DPHO mobilized 130 health workers with the help of BP Koirala Institute of Health Science and other health organizations.


13 VDCs at high risk of flooding

SAPTARI - Flooding Khando river continued eroding Bhim Dam at Topa on Sunday, posing grave threat to the locals of different 13 VDCs in the district. Hundreds of locals living in Topa, Kajauli, Launiya, Koiladi, Komdhepura, Tilathi and other adjoining areas have started to desert the villages fearing the flood. District natural disaster relief committee recently released 8,000 rupees and 25 gabions to control the flood. "It's too meager to control the flood," claimed Safid Rahaman, a local.


Fuel crunch adds woes in flood controlling

SUNSARI - The crunch of petroleum products in the market further adds woes to control the embankment erosion here at West Kusaha. The Indian contractors, who signed the contract of controlling embankment erosion here, said that they could not bring the construction materials due to the lack of diesel. "We planned to send some 30 trucks to bring boulders on Sunday. But we could send only five due to the unavailability of fuel in the market," said contractor Manoj Singh. According to him, they need 500 to 800 liters of diesel every day to run a number of equipment. "I have already requested Chief District Officer over the matter," he added.

Source: The Kathmandu Post, 01 September, 2008


 

Flood displaces 2,000 in Morang

BIRATNAGAR, Aug 31: Over 2,000 people have been displaced from several VDCs in the eastern parts of Morang district after the Bakraha river breached the embankment and flooded the villages. The river breached the embankment at Ward No 8 of Bardanga VDC and flooded Ward N0 8,7, 9 and two leaving 2,000 people displaced, said police inspector at Rangeli Area Police Office Milan Bhattarai.

Army, police and APF personnel have been involved in rescue operation. Likewise, the river has flooded Ward No 4 of Govindpur VDC and a squatters' village in Ward No 1 of Kasaini VDC. Persons involved in rescue said thousands more would be at risk if the river were not controlled in time. Meanwhile, a four-party local rescue and relief committee has been formed to conduct rescue operation and provide relief to the affected.

In Damauli, flood in Kalesti River due to incessant rains swamped paddy crop planted in more than 2,000 ropanis of land in three VDCs of Damauli yesterday. According to the locals, the river swept away paddy of all the fields from the top to the bottom in Satisawara, Kyamin and Tanahusur VDCs. With their produce meant for the year destroyed before harvesting, farmers have been affected and demanded that the concerned authority provide them relief.

Similarly, floods in several rivers due to torrential rains destroyed hundreds of ropanis of land and caused damage to dozens of canals. The District Agricultural Development Office said the details caused by the flood havoc are awaited. Meanwhile, flooding in Dhadkhola killed a youth last evening. Police identified the deceased as 31-year-old Dilli Ram Subedi of Thumki VDC in Kaski district. It is learnt that the river swept away Subedi while he was trying to cross it and his body was found at Dulegauda VDC-3. In Kalikot, employees and various organizations of the district have provided Rs. 42,000 as assistance to the flood- victims in Sunsari and Kalikot districts. It has been reported that donation collection campaign was organized by them for the assistance. The employees had even donated their one day's salary for the assistance. Those organizations providing the assistance are All Nepal Public Health Employees Association (ANPHEA), National Civil Servants Association (NCSA), Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) and Nepal Civil Servants Employees Union (NCSEU). Seventy- five employees from ANPHEA and NCSA have sent Rs. 16,500 jointly in Natural Disaster Fund under the assistance campaign.

"We have deposited our salary of one day in Prime Minister's Relief Fund with the objective of providing assistance to the flood victims of Sunsari district, said Vice- President of ANPHEA Katak Mahat. Similarly, CCI and NCSEU reported that they handed over Rs. 15,508 and Rs. 10,000 respectively to the Natural Disaster Committee in the district. Over 800 flood-victims in the district have been asking for an immediate assistance for their livelihood, it is reported. Likewise, the Nepal Red Cross Society, district branch Kalikot, distributed different relief materials to 150 flood -victim families of the district.

Source: The Rising Nepal, 01 September 2008

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Saptakoshi breach: An avoidable tragedy

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu,  August 31:

The Saptakoshi embankment breach and the ensuing flood in the eastern Nepal plains and in large parts of the neighbouring Indian state of Bihar, perhaps, could have been avoided. In hindsight, better disaster preparedness and greater coordination between the Indian inspection team, which regularly patrols Koshi embankments, and the local Nepali authorities in Sunsari was the need of the hour. The Indian team noticed the first signs of erosion on the nose of a spur about 12.9 km above Saptakoshi dam as early as August 5. However, an official at the Department of Water Induced Disaster Prevention (DWIDP), Ministry of Water Resources, claimed to have learnt about the breach in the embankment only on August 17.The department only came to know about the looming disaster after the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu informed about it. Khoma Raj Dahal, DWIDP, maintained that the Nepali authorities could do nothing as the responsibility for operation and maintenance of Koshi barrage and its associated structure lies with India as per the Koshi Treaty, 1954.

As per the agreement, an Indian team under the Chief Engineer of Birpur (Bihar) regularly patrols the embankments. The Indian team, on the other hand, claims that repair works were initiated as soon as the breach was noticed on August 5. But the supply of repair material got delayed due to custom interference and transport strike in eastern Nepal. To make matters worse, the site of erosion was accessible only through the Koshi Tappu wildlife Reserve, which is being manned by the Nepal Army.

Our Itahari correspondent quoted an official at the land management office saying that on August 17, the night before the tragedy struck, some unknown elements had tried to torch the car ferrying Indian engineer Sandesh Ram.

Saptari CDO Durga Bhandari, too, has admitted to the administration's failure to provide security to the Indian repair team. The Nepali authorities also have their own set of grievances. "You cannot expect us to do much when we cannot even take photos of the embankment, leave alone inspect and repair it," Dahal rued.

Source: The Himalayan Times, 01 September 2008

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Blame game hits flood relief hard

Somnath Bastola, Itahari, August 31:

The Saptakoshi flood victims continue to suffer silently. The reason, though, is not hard to seek. The relief and rescue operations have been hit hard as the local units of various political parties in the affected areas are indulging in blame game. Allegations are flying thick and fast that the relief-work is being mismanaged, heightened by rampant corruption.

Sitaram Meheta, vice-president of the Nepali Congress in Sunsari, alleged that the regional leaders of the Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum (MJF) were behind the embezzlement of the relief materials. "The materials collected the day before yesterday by a team led by MJF CA member Sabita Yadav have simply disappeared. The MJF is trying to make political gains out of the disaster," Meheta alleged. The MJF, too, has been quick to jump on the blame game bandwagon. SN Meheta, MJF's eastern regional coordinator, accuses the Nepali Congress and CPN-UML of indulging in petty politics.

"MJF coordinator Upendra Yadav's constituency has been worst hit. Both the NC and CPN-UML are trying to defame our party," he said, adding that the chief district officer and other officials are also involved in misappropriation of relief materials.

Ram Kumari Chaudhary, Sunsari district secretary of CPN-Maoist, alleged that the leaders and MJF's Constituency Assembly (CA) members are flouting the rules to make the relief operation non-transparent. She claimed that NC leader Sujata Koirala and MJF's five CA members were meddling with the relief distribution in the name of electoral politics. "It was announced that all relief materials would be distributed through one-door-system, but in practice, the CA members themselves are blatantly flouting the rule," Chaudhary alleged. Rewati Bhandari, CPN-UML's Sunsari district secretary, also alleged that irregularities are rampant in the distribution of relief materials. He, however, refused to divulge the name of the parties involved in "dirty politics". The CPN-UML also denounced the administration for its utter failure to nab all those, who have been busy siphoning off the relief materials.

Angry over the tardy relief and rescue operations, victims today staged a protest at Inaruwa, the headquarters of Sunsari district. The displaced went to CDO Bhandari's residence to lodge a complaint. Some of the victims, who reached Inaruwa on bicycles, complained that they have not received even a handful of beaten rice for the last 14 days. The breach in the Saptakoshi embankment occurred on August 18.
 

Source: The Himalayan Times, 01 September 2008

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Koshi flood takes its toll on industries

Shekhar Regmi

Biratnagar, August 30:

Flooding of the East-West Highway has affected industries along the Sunsari-Morang corridor. Unable to supply products to Kathmandu and markets in the western region for 10 days, industries have cut down their production by 70 per cent.

The Biratnagar Custom Office (BCO) is bearing a loss of Rs 10 million daily as industries are not importing raw materials from India and other countries.

Before the flooding, the BCO used to collect Rs 1.6 crore as import tax every day. After the Saptakoshi disaster, the collection has gone down to Rs 55 lakh for a week.

Businessmen based in the Sunsari-Morang corridor have not registered L/C for the import of raw material for a week. Goods produced here used to be supplied to Kathmandu and districts in the western region. "Most of the industries in the Sunsari-Morang corridor have reduced production by 70 per cent after the flooding brought vehicular movement to a halt along the East-West Highway," Dinesh Golchha, chairman, Trade Organisation Morang, said. With the consent of Indian customs based in Jogbani, some businessmen are supplying goods to Kathmandu and western districts via Purnea, Barauni, Samstipur and Raxaul. The goods are routed to Birgunj customs and transported to different parts of the country. But the cost of transporting goods has doubled as vehicles have to travel a distance of around 180 kilometres to reach Birgunj from Jogbani.

"With the increase in transportation costs, market prices of goods is bound to increase by up to four rupees each kg," Mahesh Jaju, chairman of the Morang Trade Association said. Around 80 goods carriers used to leave for the west daily before the flood fury. Over 25 tonnes of goods are produced in industries based in the Sunsari-Morang corridor on a daily basis.

Source: The Himalayan Times, 31 August 2008

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Rehabilitation more daunting as displaced rise to 50,000

Kathmandu, Aug. 29

Heavy flooding by the Saptakoshi River in Sunsari and Saptari districts in Eastern Region continues to impact an increasing number of families who were displaced and lost their lands and houses. The challenges to help the families will grow more in the coming weeks as the number of displaced due to the floods has grown to more than 50,000 in the past 10 days.

The United Nations (UN) in Nepal lauds the efforts made by the Government of Nepal, business community, civil society, NGOs and international community to provide humanitarian relief to the flood-affected families, a press release of the UN information Center said.

"I have been impressed with the response and organisation of the government's relief efforts. The UN is ready to support these efforts with expertise and resources as needed. We must take advantage of experience in previous disasters to strengthen our efforts." said Robert Piper, UN Resident Representative and Humanitarian Coordinator, who travels to Sunsari District today to visit the flood affected families. He explained that several UN agencies have been on the ground involved and supporting relief activities.

Piper also noted that coordination and management can be further improved with the approval of the National Disaster Risk Management strategy and the Directives to implement the National Policy on internally-displaced persons. Both of these important legislations are currently waiting approval by the cabinet. "We are concerned with reports that the aid operation has been hampered by insecurity, and have requested that the government ensure that the safety and security of humanitarian workers is respected", added Piper, calling on all parties to respect humanitarian principles to ensure that relief reaches those who need it most.

The World Food Programme (WFP) is mobilising emergency food with financial support from the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO), which already made an early commitment of US$ 1.5 million that would also cover the costs for post-flood recovery activities. As an initial response, WFP will provide a 15-day food basket consisting of rice, pulses, salt and vegetable oil to 50,000 flood victims. WFP is prepared to provide food for up to 30 days for families who cannot return to their homes because of high water levels. Due to the rapid increase in the number of affected families, WFP is now estimating that it will need an additional US$ 3 - 5 million to meet short to medium-term food and recovery assistance.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FA0) has committed to provide assistance worth US$ 100,000 for fodder, feed and vaccination of flood affected animals, and for a rapid assessment of the needs for rehabilitation of agriculture in the areas affected by flood in the wake of the breach of the embankment of the Koshi river.

UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has provided 240,000 water purifying Aquatabs to meet needs of 1600 families for a month. In collaboration with other agencies, the agency will install 20 hand pumps, 760 latrines, 60 garbage pits and 320 bathing space especially for women and adolescent girls. It has also provided 11,500 sachets of ORS in Saptari and will be supplying 8,000 insecticide nets and provide support to install temporary latrines in all shelter sites. It has provided so far US $200,000 in both districts.

The hygienic conditions are poor due to high influx of people and there is higher risk of ARI and outbreak of diarrhea and other water borne disease. UNICEF has conducted rapid assessments in the area of water and sanitation, education, child protection and child nutrtio needs of displaced people.

Medicine support from health related agencies to Government is very appreciative in this stage and need to continue such support to strengthen the response from District Health Offices. In this connection, World Health Organisation (WHO) has already provided 4 sets of Interagency Emergency Health Kits, which can cover up to 40,000 population for 3 months, 1 set of Malaria Kit, which can cover upto 10,000 population for 3 months, 1 set of Diarrhoeal kit, which can cover upto 400-500 patients and 50 outbreak response/emergency medicines as requested by the DoHS, which can cover upto 5000 severe cases. WHO And will continue scalling up its activities through Ministry of Health.

UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has delivered 200 Clean Health Delivery Kits to DPHO Sunsari. It is in the process of delivering 800 Hygiene kits and 250 CHDKs, and essential medicines (on request from DDRC and DPHO). To strengthen coordination, get maximum synergy, and achieve complementarities UNFPA is responding to and also advocating for the inclusion of RH issues in the response.

UNFPA's medical staff (through Mobile Reproductive Health Unit) and district coordinator are in the flood-affected areas providing mobile health services. UNFPA has helping to transport many pregnant women and sick people needing immediate hospital care to Rajbiraj Hospital. Since Rajbiraj hospital does not have CEOC(comprehensive essential obstetrics care) services, UNFPA has assisgned a separate vehicle to transport pregnant women needing CEOC services in Janakpur.

The post-flood recovery remains another challenge and UN has noted that the government will soon relocate flood victims. The Office for High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR) suggests the government to take into account all protection-related concerns. OHCHR appreciates the effort made by the security forces in rescue operation and urges them to ensure security inside and around the camps.

The International Office for Migration (IOM) has been offering their flight services from Kathmandu to Bhadrapur for the delivery of relief items. The Ministry of Home Affairs has been availing of this service. The IOM has also lent vehicles to other UN agencies in the eastern region for flood response and coordination activities. UNMIN has also provided logistics support for the transport of relief materials and personnel to the affected area.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has been on the ground since 18 August, coordinating assessments and relief operations, and set up an information centre in Inaruwa. At the national level, OCHA produces situation reports, maps and response matrices, highlighting needs and gaps, both in the ongoing response and resources.

Source: The Rising Nepal, 30 August 2008

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Flood victims turn to God for help

ITAHARI, Aug. 30: Chanting mantras, the Koshi flood victims have begun worshipping the Koshi River with much piety and requesting the God to turn the river to its earlier course. After the Koshi River displaced thousand of people from Sripur, Hairpur,
  
Laukahi and western Kusaha VDCs of Sunsari district with the inundation, the victims began worshipping God at the bank of swollen river. The Sunsari people express their plight the Koshi river has been angry with them. They believe that if they make the river happy, it would turn to its usual course.

An elderly woman from Laukahi, Sumitra said, "The Koshi River has been very angry with us and entered our village and ravaged properties." Not only the elderly people but also the children have begun seeking God's to remove their plight. Meanwhile in Ramechhap, torrential rainfall since a few days has rendered three families in northern Ramechhap district displaced. The displaced include families of Kitambe Sherpa, of Those-9 and Yagya Bahadur Karki and Hit Bahadur Karki in Thoshe-3, a remote VDC in the district.

The Ramechhap District Police Office said the displaced are taking shelter in their relatives' houses. Meanwhile, Angpuri Sherpa, 16, a resident of Rasnalu-2 died falling from a cliff at Dharapani, while he went to cut grass Wednesday afternoon. Meanwhile, donations were raised from Nepalese living in Pakistan by organising a programme under the convenorship of the Nepali Embassy in Islamabad on August 27 with an objective of providing relief to the victims of flood in Koshi River. An amount of Rs. 139, 600 was collected as donations on the occasion, the Embassy said.

In Gorkha, the Gorkha-Anbukhaireni road has been blocked by landslide from early morning. The road was blocked after landslide occurred at a place called Five Km along the Anbukhaireni- Gorkha portion of the road, the police said. No vehicles leaving for the capital from Gorkha have plied since early morning. As the road will not be in operation without removing the debris, works for it will be started from morning and can be removed by afternoon police said. In Janakpurdham, some half a dozen VDCs have been affected in eastern part of Dhanusha district from the flood in the Kamala River because of incessant rains.

Some 35 houses have also been eroded by the flood in Harine Hathmunda. Likewise, Balasdhara, Patanuka, Balhakathala, and Inaruwa villages are inundated. Last year, the river had affected one dozen VDCs because of changed course. Similarly, the Jalad and Jamuni Rivers also affected the Janakpur-Jayanagar railway service. Water is flowing through the railway track. In Itahari, hundreds of passengers have been stranded when Chatara-Rampur-Thoksila way was obstructed due to the Koshi flooding triggered by heavy rain in mountainous region.

It has been impossible to operate boats in the river flown from the southern part of Sunsari-Morang irrigation project, said Chatara boat contractor Buddha Shrestha. The boat transportation service has been closed keeping in mind the security of civilians, as it was even a riskier job for sailor, added Shrestha. It has rendered thousand passengers stranded in Rampur-Thoksil region after this alternative was also not remained practical and safer, said Padam Khadka of Prakashpur. The upsurge of water level in the Koshi River has compelled us to stop this service since it was very difficult to sail boats, said Padam Khadka of Prakashpur.

Source: The Rising Nepal, 31 August 2008

 

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'Bhim dam' under threat

RAJBIRAJ, Aug. 29: The flood in the Khando river triggered by incessant rains for the past three days has started cutting the Bhim dam at Topa of Saptari district. Some one dozen VDCs of the area are in the risk of inundation if the dam bursts. Repair works were done two years ago, as property worth hundreds of thousands of rupees was being destroyed with the breaking of the dam every year. More than half the dam has been already cut by the river. If the dam is broken, Topa, Kajauli, Sakarpura, Launiya, Tilathi and Rampur Malhaniya VDCs will be inundated. The rain that started on Wednesday still continues.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the District Disaster Relief Committee and CDO Jibachh Mishra said controlling of the erosion of the dam has been started today after aerial inspection of the eroded area. As more than 10,000 families have been living in the area, they were alerted through the local police posts to be watchful, said CDO Mishra. Meanwhile, the life of the displaced from flood of Koshi River has been all the more troublesome due to the incessant rains.

In Urlabari, flood in Bakraha iver in Morang had damaged paddy crop in over 50 bigahs of land in Madhumallah VDC of the district. The river gushed into Ward No 5 of the VDC after breaching the spur constructed on the bank of the river. The flood damaged rice crop of at least four farmers and a sisoo nursery, locals.

YCL Mashumallah's chief Jung Khakurel said the flood will put at least 200 households of Madhumallah and Urlabari in peril if the spur were not repaired on time. In Dhankuta, all 11 rural roads in Dhankuta have been damaged and transport services remained obstructed in the rural parts of the district due to incessant rainfall. Life in rural areas has been badly affected due to the disruption in transport services. Farmers are the worst affected as they could not take their produce to market centres. Supply of daily essentials to rural areas has been badly affected.

In Bhadrapur, Nepal's trade with third countries through eastern border point of Kakarvitta has been affected following the washing away of 10-km section of Mahendra

Highway in Laukahi- Bhantabari section by Saptakoshi River. According to the Mechi Customs Office in Kakarvitta, revenue collection has dipped with the import from third countries to Kathmandu through the point coming to a halt for the past one week.

Products imported from third countries used to generate a revenue collection of Rs 2.5 million on an average daily, Customs Officer Ramhari Aryal said, adding that the daily collection has come down to around Rs 0.5 million. While export of wheat and musuro pulse to Bangladesh from Nepal has been hit, import of glass, beetle nuts and other products has been affected.

Source: The Rising Nepal, 31 August 2008

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Flood relief, rehabilitation India's responsibility: Yadav

BY GOPAL KHANAL :

NEW DELHI, Aug 30 - Foreign Minister Upendra Yadav, who is on a visit to India, said on Saturday that as per the Koshi Agreement it was India's responsibility to provide relief to the Koshi flood victims and rehabilitate them. "It has been written in the agreement that it is India's responsibility to repair and maintain the Koshi embankment," he said while addressing a press meet at Nepal's embassy in New Delhi. "So it is India's responsibility to feed the people affected by the flood, provide them medical treatment and rehabilitate them."

He, however, said this was not a time to engage in any blame game but a time to resolve the problem at the earliest. He was referring to some Indian media reports blaming Nepal for the embankment breach that has displaced 50,000 people in Nepal and over a million in India. He said he has urged Indian PM Dr Manamohan Singh and External Affairs Minister Pranav Mukherjee to arrange for the relief and rehabilitation of the flood-affected people.

He defended Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal's remark that the Koshi Agreement was a historic blunder. "It is blunder as we cannot even throw a brick when the river starts eroding the bank and displacing our people," he said.

Responding to repeated questions from Indian journalists on whether Nepal should take responsibility for the flood, Yadav said, "It was a mistake of the center (central government of India) and the Bihar government not to carry out timely maintenance of the embankment and it is baseless to blame the locals for chasing away the team deployed for repairing the embankment." He said the locals have cooperated with the maintenance team.

Source: The Kathmandu Post, 31 August 2008


KOSHI DELUGE: Hundreds still trapped

BY THIRA L BHUSAL AND LILA BALLAV GHIMIRE

LAUKAHI (SUNSARI), Aug 30 - Though the swollen Koshi River has submerged Shripur, Yuddagunj, Kusyahi, Lahi and Naharchowk villages among others, in Sunsari district, hundreds of people have not yet evacuated their homes. Some of them are staying inside the waterlogged houses risking their lives, while many others are trapped by violent currents at several places in the villages making them unable to evacuate.

Thousands of locals fled their homes as the raging river inundated entire villages, demolished houses and swept away huts after it breached the embankment at West Kusaha on August 18. On Saturday, the local administration rescued 16 more people who had earlier refused to leave their homes, according to Chief District Officer of Sunsari Durga Bhandari. He estimates that there can be as many as 200 more people who are  still unwilling to come out of the flooded areas. "When the water level increases, they send us messages requesting us to rescue them," Bhandari said, adding, "But, when we send boats or helicopters, they become reluctant."

Locals said many people have been trapped in the waterlogged villages. However, CDO Bhandari claimed Nepal Army personnel have reached each and every place and rescued all those willing to come out.  "There are many houses in which scores of people have been trapped. But, unfortunately we could not reach them with boats," Bindeshwor Mehta of Kusaha-8 told the Post at Laukahi, adding, "Yuddagunj, Lahi, Kusyahi and Naharchowk are such places." Mehta, who has been continuously involved in rescuing the locals and salvaging their belongings with his own boat from Tuesday, said that they (rescuers) could not reach many places due to very violent currents.

According to him many locals do not want to leave their homes fearing that burglars will take away all their belongings and valuables. Looters come with boats and take away the goods, locals said. In most cases, locals have sent their children, women and the elderly to camps, to their relatives, or to other safer places. Head of the families have stayed behind to guard properties. Some locals fled their homes requesting neighbors to look after their valuables.

"They have gathered inside concrete buildings as the river swept away the huts," Mehta said. Many have been taking refuge in a two-storey building belonging to former UML Member of Parliament Jagdish Kusiyat, he said. There are several such buildings where people have found refuge but they are not totally safe. The flood waters can still wreck havoc on them.  Mehta has been ferrying people, animals and goods, making four to five trips a day in his boat, for the last 11 days. His boat can carry around 80 persons at a time, according to him. There are 35 boats operating within the flood-devastated sites. Most are smaller than the one operated by Mehta.

'Bodies decay'

Mehta said many people have been killed in the flood, and many others are missing. "Locals said several people have been killed or have disappeared. However, while making my rounds, I have clearly noticed five bodies entangled in bushes at Kalastari, about two kilometers downward from the Nepal-India border," he said.  He could not identify any of the bodies. But one Rajendra Mehta who accompanied him, was able to identify the deceased, according to him. "They are all from Nepal. He can give every detail regarding them," Mehta said. Rajendra could not be located at the camps.

According to Mehta, the condition of those trapped by the Koshi is worsening each passing day. Those who earlier chose not to abandon their homes are now facing a crisis, he said. "Likewise, many animals killed due to the flood are a pathetic sight. Dead animals could be seen floating on the Koshi," he said, adding, "Animals not yet swept away could be seen standing trapped at the same spots since several days."

Source: The Kathmandu Post, 31 August

 

 


SAPTAKOSHI DELUGE: Erosion continues, more VDCs in peril

POST REPORT

SUNSARI, Aug 30 - Even as technicians' teams of Nepal and India have been engaged in frantic efforts to stop further erosion and repairing the damaged embankment, the Saptakoshi floods eroded nearly 30 feet of spur number 13.60 as of Saturday evening. Worse still, over 20 meters of the western Kushaha embankment, from where the river water first began changing its course on August 18 resulting in the catastrophe, were also damaged on Saturday, putting locals of Madhuvan, Prakashpur, Bhokraha and Laukahi VDCs in peril.

One Ashok Thapa of Koshi Victims Group (KVG), who is also actively involved in the repair works, informed that all their attempts were going in vain. Over 30,000 sandbags which were dropped so far with a view of changing the river course westwards have failed to yield any outcome.  "We're trying our best and are using all available techniques," said J N Singh, division engineer of Indian technicians' team. "When we see the current and flow of river waters, we are doing very risky job."

Informing that they sought additional equipment from India, Singh said that they were zeroing in on 13.60 spur as repairs of it could help them change the river course which would also prevent further erosion and inundation. The Indian team also called on local administration to evacuate over 5,000 locals taking shelter near Bhantabari embankment saying that their presence is creating problems in the repair works.

While the teams said that they were opting for all measures of temporary solutions, Chief District Officer, Durga Bhandari, said that permanent works for the embankment construction and other works would begin only in the second week of March next year. "We are not that hopeful as the erosion is continuing unabated and repair works have failed to be paid off so far," said KVG treasurer, Ram Narayan Raut.

Displaced families to get Rs 15,000 each

In order to solace the displaced people, the government has decided to provide 15,000 rupees to each family if the latter chose not to stay in the evacuees' camps. District Natural Disaster Rescue Committee began collecting names to this regard from Saturday and informed that the relief amount would be disbursed from Sunday. The Committee also said that those unwilling to receive the amount would be transferred to proposed eastern regional prison buildings at Jhumka and to office buildings of Christian Industries at Simariya.  Meanwhile, over 2,000 floods-displaced persons of Devangunj and Kaptangunj demonstrated on Saturday demanding relief materials.

They have been taking shelters at local schools and Madarsas after tributary rivers of the Saptakoshi inundated their settlements. Hospitals crammed, separate camp for nursing mothers Inaruwa Hospital at the district headquarters have been crammed  with many flood victims are suffering from fever, pneumonia and gastroenteritis. Among them are also persons bitten by snakes. One Orec Nepal, an NGO, has managed separate camps for nursing mothers at Inaruwa. Binod Chaudhary of the organization informed that they would continue such camp for two weeks where paramedics would offer timely service to such women.

With over 30 women giving births in displaced camps, the number of nursing mothers is over 100 in such camps.

Source: The Kathmandu Post, 31 August 2008


Koshi flood posing threat to wildlife

By PRAGATI SHAHI

KATHMANDU, Aug 30 - Successive waves of devastating flood in the Saptakoshi River continuing unabated  have come to pose alarming threats to the wildlife inside Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve (KTWR). According to Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) , the wetlands and buffer-zone areas of the reserve have been severely hit by the flood. Similarly, most of the grassland areas that serve as habitat for dozens of grassland bird species, reptiles and some mammals are totally submerged in the water.

The reserve spreads over Saptari and Sunsari districts in East Nepal, defined by the eastern and western embankments of Koshi River. "We are not able to monitor the entire reserve and ascertain the immediate wildlife casualties due to heavy flooding inside the reserve," said Sher Singh Thagunna, planning officer at DNPWC. All the staff meant for the conservation of the animals are helping in the rescue operations and in distrbuting relief materials to the flood victims, he said.

"It will take a few weeks to come up with the actual data on casualties of the animals inside the reserve," he said. In order to keep receiving regular information from KTWR, DNPWC has recently provided KTWR with two sets of satellite phones. Similarly, a team comprising Park officials and Nepal Army personnel along with four elephants are being mobilized for the rescue of both human and animals in the affected areas, according to Thagunna. The population of wild buffaloes are still not affected by the flood because they usually live in high altitude places and can flee the areas by swimming in case of any threat,  he added.

Hem Sagar Baral, chief executive officer of Bird Conservation Nepal (BCN) said, "Though there is less chance of bird casualties as most birds fly away, population of some globally threatened bird species including Swamp Francolin is under serious threat as it can't move away from its grassland habitats." Similarly, the future of the breeding colony of the bird species like Egret, Heron, Cormorants and Strok that harbors more than 20,000 breeding birds inside the KTWR is under alarming threat. In addition, KTWR is a floodplain containing loose soil and most nesting trees are falling down, he added.

According to Baral, recent flood could alter the composition of birds during the migration season due in time. "There is a chance of decrease in the number of migrating and native bird species. Similarly, we may be able to record some new bird species too," he added.

Source: The Kathmandu Post, 31 August 2008


What is Flooding the Koshi Barrage?

Compiled by Sushil Koirala

For the past couple of days, the news of hundreds of locals at Haripur, Sripur, Laukahi and western Kushaha villages in Sunsari district fleeing their homes after the swollen Saptakoshi River damaged an embankment in western Kushaha village has struck millions of Nepalis living inside and outside Nepal. Today when the Indian embassy blamed lack of cooperation from Nepal as a reason behind the damaged embankment, it raised many Nepalese eyebrows on what is really going on in the Koshi Barrage.

More to the point, it also became of prime concern to everyone when the actual extent of the disaster became apparent.

Regarding the damage to the dam itself form news sources, there is enough news about the impact of failure but not on the failure itself. We have tried to brainstorm it among some young water resources "hopefuls" of Nepal abroad to learn what is really happening. The exercise has not yielded a lot of answers, rather more speculations that we would still want to share with our fellow Nepalis in the simplest terms.

This embankment itself is used to control the flowing path of the river; it can only eroded in two ways. The erosion of the bottom or base occurs when the velocity of the flow is too high. The situation here appears like the erosion is over the top of embankment. This kind of breach occurs when the collection of water in the barrage basin is too large for the embankment to hold. We all know that a barrage has a lot less water storage capacity than a dam. Most of us are aware that the news on the Koshi barrage has said that the bed level of the river upstream of the barrage has been rising in the past. Nepali soil is very loose as the Koshi flows through the middle mountains. It collects a lot of sediment on the way. When the river has no more energy to carry it, especially at the Koshi barrage where the slope of the river is very low, the sediment settles down in the barrage basin. This deposition may have been raising the bed level of the Koshi barrage for many years.

The barrage has 56 gates. When the gates are fully open, it should be enough to drain all the flow of the barrage in the river. Strangely enough, even now only 40 out of 56 gates are open. As we all know, the Koshi barrage belongs to India and so does the operation of it. The likelihood of the Bihar government (India) opening more gates is slim. They will continue to blame Nepalese local administration for "lack of cooperation" and the story will go on.

There is also a news report about "stealing some nets". If it's the net that is importance, it is usually from the flow controlling area of the barrage and is almost impossible to steal.

Whatever the reason may be, if water starts going over the embankment, it starts eroding the embankment from the top. Once this occurs, the size of the bank will reduce exponentially. The situation leads us towards an inevitable major disaster.     

It seems like a reduction in the flow of the river is the only hope we have for the time being. In that sense all the Nepalis who are seriously affected, along with those who are directly suffering and losing their lives have no other recourse than to hope for the rain to stop. RS 20 million in relief from the PM looks good. So does a high level visit. But it still does not stop the water flowing out of the barrage. Let's hope that there is a long term approach for a long-term solution. Let's not blame one thing for the incident. Let's prepare ourselves in terms of "Man, Money and Material" and let's pray for the rain to stop.

(From the excerpts of Sujan Koirala, University of Tokyo, Japan, compiled by Sushil Koirala, WVFT Thailand.)

Source: The Kathmandu Post, 31 August 2008



PM gives directives to secretaries for flood victims


Kathmandu, August 28:

The Central Natural Disaster Relief Committee meeting held under the coordination of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' Thursday directed the concerned authorities including ministry secretaries to take special initiative to provide immediate relief to the Koshi flood victims and prepare a package programme to address the flood-induced problems. The Committee meeting directed the concerned officials to prepare a package programme that includes rescue, relief distribution, infrastructure repair and construction, management of alternative roads or transportation and repair and construction of embankments around the Koshi flood affected areas, Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Dev Gurung told The Rising Nepal.

The Committee also directed the concerned authorities to hold dialogues with Indian officials to address the flood-induced problems in an effective manner, Gurung said. "The meeting also decided to form a high level committee to study the Koshi flood havoc and submit recommendations." The meeting directed to prepare a full relief package by Sunday, Minister for Physical Planning and Construction Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar said.  Meanwhile, a technical team has also been directed to submit a report on opening a diversion on the East-West Highway where the flood has destroyed road.

It is learnt that a cabinet meeting to be held on Monday next week is likely to endorse the package programme prepared as per the direction given in today's meeting. Meanwhile, the Home Ministry said Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' expressed commitment at a meeting with concerned industrialists to settle the issue of syndicate system within two months, forming an all-side committee considering the problems of consumers. It was also directed to manage security to those operating transportation. The district administration offices have also been directed to take punitive measure against those obstructing the transportation.

Source: The Rising Nepal, 29 August 2008

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Saptakoshi embankment protection work begins

Kathmandu, Aug. 27:

Saptakoshi Disaster Management Coordination Committee Wednesday started its works of protecting and repairing the Koshi embankments. The committee has started its assigned works establishing a Command Post in Biratnagar, the Home Ministry said.

The committee started works as per the instruction made by the members of the high level committee, which was formed on Tuesday. The members of the high level committee comprising Defence Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa 'Badal', Physical Planning Minister Bijaya Kumar Gachhedar, Home Secretary Umesh Mainali, Defence Secretary Baman Prasad Neupane, IGP Om Bikram Rana, IGP of Armed Police Force Basudev Oli and joint secretary Pratap Kumar Pathak inspected spurs 11.00 and 12.00 RD constructed at Toribari of Braha VDC-6 in Sunsari district, the Home Ministry said.

Source: The Rising Nepal, 29 August, 2008

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NC criticises govt over poor relief to flood-hit

Lalitpur, Aug. 27:

The central committee meeting of the Nepali Congress held Wednesday urged the government not to politicise the havoc triggered by the Koshi floods in east Nepal and appealed for the stepping up of relief operations in the wake of reports that the flood victims were not getting adequate food, health care and proper shelter. It has asked the government along with the Constituent Assembly (CA) chairman to call an all party meeting to find out ways for forging help from all possible sides to make the relief operations effective.

Underscoring the need to reach out for additional foreign assistance to rescue and provide relief to the flood victims, the meeting concluded that it was India's special responsibility to reconstruct the damaged embankment. The meeting also requested India to begin the reconstruction of damaged barrage. Acting President Sushil Koirala informed the press about the NC decision on the problems created by the Koshi floods after two of the spurs of the Koshi dam gave way and induced damage to human settlement. He also made public the party's stance on another flood in the Tinau River in Butwal, which has thrown life out of gear, and warned the government not to politicise the incidents of floods.

The meeting also asked the government to intensify the relief operations, reconstruct the damaged embankment and prevent further damage, rehabilitate the victims, prevent possible endemics, make arrangements for alternative road transportation and seek long term plan to address the problem. "The government should have coordinated with all the political parties to rehabilitate the flood victims but instead it has been trying to give a political colour to the issue, which is regrettable," a press statement of the party said. "Had the Koshi dam not been there then the loss to human life and property would have been of a massive scale, hence instead of protesting against the construction of the dam, it would be wiser to mount pressure for its reconstruction," Vice President Ram Chandra Paudel said responding to a query whether the Maoist proposal to review the Koshi treaty with India was worth reckoning.

Acting President Koirala informed that the NC Constituent Assembly members had contributed Rs. 2,000 and central committee members Rs. 1,000 each to the NC Flood Victim Central Assistance Committee. He informed that a central level team of the party visited the Koshi embankment area and the committee was actively collecting assistance for the victims. The meeting, which continued for the third day today, discussed the contemporary political issues. The meeting was postponed for 12:05 a.m.

Thuraday. Twenty Seven out of the 64 central members have already put forth their views.

Party spokesperson Arjun Narsingh K.C. informed that most of the members had raised the issue of improvement of party organisation and common leadership in the party. He said, "NC still wants consensual politics to write new constitution and give the peace process a logical end."

Source: The Rising Nepal, 29 August 2008

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Rehabilitation of flood victims begin

RAJBIRAJ, Aug 28:

Rehabilitation of the people displaced by flooding in Koshi River in organized camps has begun. Flood victims have been relocated to the camps set up by the Koshi victims Society, Saptari, with the aid of OXFAM, said Jibachha Mishra, Chief District Officer and Chairman of the Natural Calamities Relief Committee, Saptari. The flooding in Koshi River displaced 21,140 members of 3,260 families in Pashim Kusaha, Laukahi and Sripur VDCs of Sunsari. The displaced have been living in Bhardaha, Portaha, Yoginiya and in Koshi dam. Installation of 3,000 temporary camps for the displaced living in Koshi dam is underway rapidly. CDO Mishara said of them, OXFAM aided for 2,500 camps and other organisations are setting up the remaining camps.

The World Food Programme has provided 234 metric tones of food for the displaced. Similarly, Rural Re-construction is installing 100 toilets and 100 tube-wells and CARE Nepal is doling out utensils, hygiene kit, mats and clothing, the CDO said. "We have already settled some displaced in 250 camps and efforts are underway to rehabilitate the others," he added. In Biratnagar, changing its course, 75 per cent water of the Saptakoshi River has begun gushing out through the spur broken area, Natural Calamities Relief Committee, Sunsari has stated.

Water-level in the barrage was 26,508 cusec this morning but around 80,000 cusec water was flowing through the breached area, the Koshi Barrage Control Center said. According to the information received, Koshi Barrage has the capacity up to 600,000 cusec water; however, the barrage had only 100,000 cusec water on the day the dam was destroyed. The embankment collapsed not due to the high water level but because it had become fragile, said Rameshwor Khadka, Chief of Water-Induced Disaster Control Office, Biratnagar. The rapid course of the embankment crumbling down has widened to 1,600 meter, Khadka said. He ruled out the possibility of immediate plugging the embankment and added that construction and repair of spurs to control the further breaching has begun. Despite slow breaching of the embankment at north, water-flow towards south has increased heightening chances of breaking apart embankment at south, Khadka said. "Considering the depth and flow of water in the embankment broken area,"

said Khadka, "we have concluded that the embankment can not be plugged untill the monsoon gets over." Earlier in Bhadrapur, with the Ramchandraahi river continuing to

breach the dam, possibility of flood entering some villages in south of Jhapa district is high. The river swollen due to incessant rainfall since a few days ago has been cutting the embankment rapidly in Khajurgachi-3.

Only two meters of the dam is left to be breached by the river, VDC Secretary Chandra Mohan Ganesh informed. Ganesh said that once the dam is breached, paddy planted in hundreds of bighas of land will be destroyed and dozens of families will be displaced. Efforts to control the breaching of the dam have not been made yet.

Meanwhile, flooding in Kankai River has displaced two households in Shivgunj VDC.

Source: The Rising Nepal, 29 August 2008

 

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Flood-hit in Need of Drugs, Food: Report

THT Online Kathmandu, August 29:

Flood victims living in areas west of the Saptakoshi river have been facing a shortage of medicines, food and medical personnel, the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division said in a report. An EDCD team prepared the report after visiting the affected areas.
The report states that patients have been facing a shortage of medicines, food and medical personnel. According to Dr Bindeshwar Prasad Yadav, an epidemiologist at the EDCD, doctors at the Sagarmatha Zonal Hospital, the only hospital in the area, have been finding it difficult to look after patients. "In five days, the hospital treated 4,440 patients," he said, urging the authorities concerned to address the shortage of manpower, medicines and food.

The report urges the government to supply fuel for ambulances and provide allowances to medical staffers, who have been working round the clock. According to Yadav, 25 medical staffers have been attending to the patients at the hospital.
An additional sum of Rs 1.6 million is needed to provide health service to the flood

victims, the report states. "Outbreaks have not been reported yet, but the area is prone to

outbreaks of cholera, Japanese Encephalitis and malaria," said Dr Yadav. The field report

will be presented to the Health Ministry and other authorities tomorrow, he said.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Drinking Water and Sanitation Users-Nepal on Thursday called on authorities concerned to make arrangements for supply of potable water to the flood victims and build toilets for them. It also called for maintenance of water sources and pipelines that have been damaged due to flooding in the Saptakoshi river.

Source: The Himalayan Times, 29 August, 2008

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PM's fiat to speed up relief work

HNS/RSS

Kathmandu, August 28:

A meeting of the National Calamity Relief and Rescue Department held here today under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' directed ministry secretaries and experts to take special initiative to provide relief to the Saptakoshi flood victims and re-open the East-West Highway. Stating that the meeting directed to prepare a full package of relief by Sunday, Minister for Physical Planning and Works Bijay Kumar Gachhedar informed that even the national and international donors were asked to assist flood victims.

A technical team has also been directed to submit a report on an alternative to some 10 km of the East-West Highway, which was swept away by the Saptakoshi River.
Present in the meeting were Finance Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai, Minister for Physical Planning and Works Bijay Kumar Gachhadar and Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affair Dev Prasad Gurung. The PM also directed secretaries and technical experts of the ministries concerned to come up with an integrated immediate, medium and long-term plan to control eroding of the Koshi embankment and submit the detailed report to the government by Sunday. Gachhadar, addressing a consultative meeting of all the parties in the Constituent Assembly organised by Speaker Subas Nembang, said the government would move as per the integrated technical report. Nembang had called the meeting to solicit suggestions on the measures to control erosion of the embankment by Koshi.

Defence Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa 'Badal' said, "With the eastern embankment completely washed away, we must be prepared to review the Koshi Treaty and we must review the benefits that Nepal got from the treaty. We must also review what led to the breach of the Koshi embankment when flow of water in the river was far

below the danger mark."Gachhadar said the eastern embankment collapsed after locals did not allow Indian workers to work on the vulnerable site. He said 1,100 metres of the embankment had been washed away and there was a risk of further erosion of other spurs.

Home Secretary Umesh Mainali, Water Resources Secretary Shankar Koirala and Secretary at the Ministry of Physical Planning and Works Purna Prasad Kaderiya attended the meeting. Mainali said 10,7272 people, mostly from four VDCs, were displaced and over 7,000 households were destroyed. He said the displaced people were taking shelter in 27 temporary camps in Sunsari and Saptari. "There is no shortage of relief materials but systematic distribution is lacking," Mainali said. Water Resources Secretary Koirala said 90 per cent flood water was flowing through the changed course towards east, posing difficulty to launch immediate repair works.

Source: The Himalayan Times, 29 August, 2008

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Indian team in Sunsari

 HNS ITAHARI:

A high-level Indian technical team for re-construction of the Saptakoshi dam spurs arrived in Sunsari on Thursday. The six-member team is being led by engineer Nilendra Sanyal, Chief District Officer Durga Bhandari said. Sanyal is a renowned water resources expert. The team would make an on-the-spot inspection visit prepare a detailed report on ways to tame the Koshi River.

The Indian team met Deputy Director General of the Water Resources Depar

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