Beni at high risk as embankment yet to be rebuiltThe flooded Kaligandaki river damaged around 50 metres of the embankment during last year’s monsoon.
Beni Bazaar, the district headquarters of Myagdi, is at high risk of floods every monsoon. The risk is even higher this year as the authorities concerned have failed to rebuild the embankment that was damaged by the flooded Kaligandaki river last year.
The flooded Kaligandaki river damaged around 50 metres of the embankment during last year’s monsoon. A contract was signed four months ago to reconstruct the embankment but work on the project is yet to begin.
“It is now too late to start work on the embankment. The construction work will not complete before this year’s monsoon,” said Surat KC, the recently elected mayor of Beni Municipality. “Unless we take immediate measures to control floods, Beni will be hugely affected in this year’s monsoon. I am seeking other alternatives to protect the area from floods.”
According to KC, he is planning to pile up huge boulders along the damaged area as an immediate measure to protect the town.
Beni lies between the Myagdi and Kaligandaki rivers. Embankments are built to control river erosion every year but they barely last a season. Last year’s floods destroyed the RCC embankment wall constructed by the then Water Induced Disaster Management Office two years ago. The local government and residents attempted to control floods then by making temporary embankments using gabion boxes.
The Pokhara-based Rupatal Conservation Integrated Project in January handed over the contract to construct the flood-damaged embankment to Rautaha Construction with an objective to complete work within this year. As per the agreement, the construction company has to build a 80metre concrete wall in the Kalipul-Buspark area; a 136 metre heavy counter retaining wall just behind the office building of the Myagdi chapter of Nepal Chamber of Commerce and Industry; and a 70-metre-long composite wall at the Mangalaghat area at the total cost of Rs 94.5 million.
The construction company has completed the work at Kalipul-Buspark and Mangalaghat areas but the construction of the retaining wall behind the chamber office, which is at high risk of erosion, is yet to be initiated.
KC said both the contractor and the governing body are to be blamed for the delay in the embankment construction.
“The contract was signed on January 26. The embankment could have been completed before this monsoon had the contractor started work sincerely and without any delay,” said Ram Bahadur Ranabhat, the site engineer of the Rupatal Conservation Integrated Project. “The contractor delayed construction work behind the chamber office citing difficult terrain and shortage of workers. Now, the embankment construction is not possible in the area before the rainy season.”
The Department of Hydrology and Meteorology forecasts heavy monsoon rainfall this year. As per the seasonal forecast by the department, 55 to 60 percent more rainfall is likely in some places of the country. And Myagdi, a district spreading across hill and mountain regions, is included in the list of high rainfall districts prepared by the department.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority, the agency responsible for disaster risk reduction and management, has already asked the provincial and local authorities to prepare their own action plans on the basis of risk assessment and jump into action in the event of disasters.
“The local people of Beni have to live in abject terror of floods and landslides every monsoon due to the failure of the policy makers and the concerned authorities to take the problem seriously,” said Uttam Kumar Karmacharya of Beni-8. “A heavy monsoon rainfall has been forecast this year but the damaged embankment is yet to be reconstructed.”