Print Edition - 2013-06-18  |  Development

Living with Gandak fears

- BECHU GAUD, Kathmandu
Living with Gandak fears

Jun 17, 2013-

Local people in Nawalprasi district have fears for their safety as the increasing water level in the Narayani river has posed risks of a burst in the Gandak dam. The swollen river has brought the ongoing repair in the dam to a standstill.

If the flooded river erodes the dam, more than a dozen villages will be swept away and many settlements will be submerged, according to locals. Amid intermittent rainfall repair works are unlikely to complete before the monsoon. A long delay in starting repair works has made things go from bad to worse.

Last year’s havoc is still haunting locals. A powerful gush of water flow had eroded the dam in the west after a burst in spur no 12. The then Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and Physical Planning Minister Hridayesh Tripathi, while inspecting the site, had assured the locals of a timely repair of the eroded spurs and dam.

The pledge, however, never saw the light of day.

Villagers say repair works in spurs no 11, 12 and 13 should have started soon after the winter and completed before the monsoon. Fixing up the damaged spurs and dam is nearly impossible in the rainy season.

Fearing a dam erosion, the local denizens have been calling on the government to find an alternative settlement on time.

A villager, Gopal Gurung, says repair works will not be completed on time now as it started late and the dam may burst at any time. The local residents are in an overwrought state fearing floods. “The water flow is only five meters away from the dam and a substantial chunk of the spur has already been eroded,” he says. “The dam should be protected from further erosion at the earliest after declaring the area an emergency zone.”

According to Gurung, 13 VDCs such as Narsahi, Pakalihawa, Guthiprasauni, Guthisuryapura, Baidauli, Pratappur and Bhujahawa will be deluged and dozens of villages will be swept away if the dam gets eroded.

Authorities are under fire for ‘not doing’ the needful when warning bells started to ring. Prem Chandra Gupta of the Gandak River Control Struggle Committee accuses both Nepali and Indian officials of delaying repair works, thus inviting the present situation. The committee had pressed the District Administration Office (DAO) and Narayani Irrigation Management Division Office (NIMDO) to act on time, but to no avail, Gupta says.

According to the Gandak agreement signed between the two countries, Indian authorities are responsible to carry out constructions or repair works and other activities in the dam.

The neighbouring Uttar Pradesh government released IRs 220 million for repair works through a bidding process. The contract was awarded to Manowar Ali of City Welder’s. Gandak villagers, however, say Ali assigned a Nepali contractor, Bharat Singh of Thulo Khairatawa VDC in Nawalparasi, to carry out repair works ignoring the quality of works.

Nawalparasi Chief District Officer Keshabraj Ghimire, who inspected the site many times, says the Gandak area, mainly the B Gab dam, is at risk of flooding. “The District Disaster Prevention and Rescue Committee has been put on full alert and the DAO has sent out an SOS to the Home Ministry for an alternative management.”

Ghimire says a meeting of the District Natural Disaster Management Committee will take place soon to take stock of the present situation.

A team of technicians and the DAO officials have recently informed the Koshi Gandak Irrigation Project under the Department of Irrigation about the increasing risks posed by the dam.

Published: 18-06-2013 09:26

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