Beni locals lend hand to build embankment

- GHANASHYAM KHADKA, MYAGDI

May 31, 2015-

The residents of district headquarters Beni Bazaar have volunteered to construct an embankment as part of the campaign to protect the bazaar area from the possible risk of flooding and erosion on Saturday.

As the bazaar area is shrinking by the day due to the  erosion caused by the Kaligandaki and Myagdi River on either side of the busy marketplace, the residents of Beni, living in the perpetual fear of floods, had participated in the campaign to expedite the Roller-Compacted Concrete (RCC) embankment project initiated by District Water-Induced Disaster Prevention (DWIP) sub-division office, Pokhara under its campaign to protect the district headquarters.

The recent floods in Kaligandaki River that had managed to rise above the old embankment with gabion-walls had further escalated the fear among locals. Fear gripped locals as the dry landfall triggered by the aftershocks of the April 25 quake on Sunday morning had blocked the river for about 16 hours to form a huge lake.  

More than 500 men and women had participated in the campaign organised by Beni Chamber of Commerce and Industries (CCI). Participants had reached the confluence of the two rivers and collected stones out of the river-bed to use them for building the embankment. Work on the embankment with RCC walls spanning 50 metres from Kali bridge to Khulla Manch at an estimated cost of Rs 10 million is being conducted under the Citizen’s Embankment Project.

“The fear of a major mishap following the river blockade, which fortunately did not cause any damage,  motivated us to volunteer to construct the embankment,” said chairperson Jiwan BK of Beni CCI, adding that each household had helped in ferrying the stones to the embankment construction site. As the top soil of the hills that have developed major cracks and fissures following the April 25 quake and subsequent aftershocks (with a major one on May 12) have started giving way even before the onset of rainy seasons, locals of Beni are living in a perpetual state of fear. Furthermore, feeding the fear of locals, the hills around ‘Andhagalchi’ with an unstable geographic terrain have also developed fissures and cracks, leaving the areas along the river banks vulnerable. Located between Mt Annapurna and Mt Dhaulagiri, it is the deepest gorge in the world.

“We had initiated the embankment project in 1998 by collecting donations from locals,” said chairperson Hari Krishna Shrestha of the campaign, adding that the initiation of the ‘labour donation programme’ for the construction of the embankment was just an extension of the plans to give continuity to the project Informing that the dry landfall at Bainseri on May 24 has forced them to remain on alert, Shrestha said that it was essential that they urge the contractors to work on the RCC embankment and complete construction before the onset of monsoons as the risk of landslides and floods were relatively higher in comparison to previous years.  The campaign to save the district headquarters from the danger of flooding and erosion had started in 1998, but failed to gain momentum due to the negligence of the concerned authority as well as locals.   

Meanwhile, the trend of Kaligandaki River being blocked by landslides along 44 km section of Beni-Lete road section is a recurring phenomenon. The river had been reportedly blocked at least four times over the past six decades. The landfall at Chyarchyare situated nearby Myagdi River 27 years ago is believed to have claimed countless lives with major property damage at Darbang bazaar.

Published: 01-06-2015 07:36

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