Locals patrol at night in fear of floods, landslides

- RAJENDRA MANADHAR, Sindhupalchowk

Aug 17, 2014-

Locals of the business hub of the district in Barhabise have been patrolling the river banks in fear of floods. The residents of the area have been checking on the water levels using lights as late as 11 pm at night, taking turns in case of rain. “Although the power lines are down as they were destroyed by landslides, local youths have been monitoring the water level after installing 31 light bulbs of 12.5 watts at the river banks,” said Krishna Karki, member of Sindhupalchok Commerce and Industries Association. Karki said that they were using the generators of Global IME Bank, Civil Bank and Subhaprabhat Cooperative to light up the bulbs.

Locals have been more cautious after a monitoring team comprising of representatives of political parties, police, local businessmen and Red Cross Society on Sunday warned of possible consequences of the floods. “A team of 24 individuals who had gone to monitor the situation in Bhatte of Ramche above the landslide site in Jure had concluded that the threat was far from over,” said Inspector Jayeshwor Rimal, in-charge of the Area Police Office in Barhabise. According to Rimal, while the land surface had developed a large crack spanning 300 metres in length and 200 metres in width water had constantly been flowing underground increasing the chances of further landslides.

The Chief District Officer and the Deputy Superintendent of Police are already informed about the situation, Rimal said.

Meanwhile, disagreeing with the view of the experts, Karki who was a part of the team said that after walking three hours to the site, they concluded that the danger of further landslides stopping the flow of Sunkoshi was imminent. According to Karki, if the water level rises by two to three metres, over 200 houses stood at risk of being inundated and if it rises to 10 metres the results was bound to be catastrophic. The water level of the river has already swollen, reaching near the bridge located at the middle of the Barhabise bazaar.

Locals fear that if the flow of water is somehow halted for around an hour, the whole market will inundate. Barhabise bazaar stands prone to risk as it happens to be the confluence of two rivers flowing from opposing sides. While the Sunkoshi flows from east to west, Bhotekoshi flows from north to south merging near Barhabise.

As the two rivers had caused trouble in the past, Ramesh Lal Shrestha, 63, spends his night watching over the river from the bridge. The floods in Bhotekoshi in 1981 had damaged a lot of houses, while the floods in Sunkoshi in 1987 had claimed 95 lives, Shrestha recalled.

The area which had turned into a major business hub after the construction of Araniko Highway in 1965 has developed into a bustling town with around 300 shops. Meanwhile, government offices have been established, along with seven banks, 14 cooperatives, and more than 20 standard hotels.

Expressing sorrow over government apathy to save the bazaar, the only major transport link between Nepal and China, 73-year-old Dhan Bahadur Shrestha demanded for an early flood warning siren like the one installed in Cho-Rolpa glacial lake in Dolakha.

Published: 18-08-2014 09:14

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