Factories forced to shut down due to floodingThe problem has occurred because the roadside drains are narrow and they get clogged, insiders say.
Factories in Padsari, Omsatiya Rural Municipality-2 on the Bhairahawa-Butwal road become flooded even after normal rain, forcing them to shut down. The contractor that built the road has not cleared the storm drains on the roadsides, causing water to rise in this industrial area in Rupandehi district every time it rains.
The more than two dozen factories here become inundated after a downpour, bad enough for them to have to stop work. It takes many days for the water to subside, say factory owners in the industrial area.
Arun Goenka, director of Everest Rolling Industries and senior vice-president of the Siddhartha Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that the problem of flooding has occurred because the roadside drains are narrow and they are not cleaned.
"In the past, there was no problem of flooding as the road was at a lower level, and the rain water used to flow away easily," he said. "The road has been widened to six lanes but the drains were not widened accordingly, and they cannot handle the rain water," he added.
When the storm drains fill up, the water enters nearby factories and settlements. During the rainy season, rain water flows from Butwal Yogikuti to Bhairahawa. There aren't sufficient and wide drains that can hold the rainwater that flows from long distances.
Many of the former public canals and sewers have been buried by landowners and the land mafia by bringing them under their ownership. Land plotters have constructed roads over the canals. As a result, the Omsatiya section of the Bhairahawa-Butwal road becomes flooded in the rainy season.
The drains that were constructed on the roadsides have become blocked and water cannot pass through them. The contractor has not cleaned the drains but only covered them from above. The storm drains are filled with stones, mud, gravel and sand.
The road construction project has not taken any initiative to clean the drains by opening the manholes, nor did it clear construction materials from the drain when the road was being built. The problem created by the negligence of the contractor and the project is now tormenting factory owners and locals.
Gyanesh Shrestha, ward chairman of Omsatiya Rural Municipality-2, said the problem was complicated as the contractor Biruwa Construction has not handed over the road after closure of construction.
"Until the handover, we cannot clean it; and the contractor has not cleaned it either," said Shrestha.
Shrestha said that all factories in the area, several houses and 80 bighas of land have become waterlogged as the drain filled up with mud, stones, gravel and sand during the construction, and it was covered with a lid after the work was done.
"The water that collected after two days of rain in mid-June did not subside for a week," he said. "It is a technical flaw, they did not build alternative ways for the rain water to flow while expanding the road," he said.
There are more than two dozen factories in the area including Arun Agro Industries, Everest Rolling, Shyam Modern Pulses Mill, Shyam Polymers Industries, Lumbini Polymers Industries, Ratna Iron Industries, Ferro Steel Industries and Apit Pulses Mills, among others.
Entrepreneurs say that their factories have to be shut down as the machinery gets submerged, and even the electric circuits become damaged. Goenka said that the factories had to be shut down for six days after two days of normal rains in mid-June.
Jayalal Marasini, chief of the Belahiya-Butwal six-lane trade route expansion project, said that the contractor would be responsible for cleaning the drain until the road section is handed over.
The contractor company has been repeatedly reminded to hand over the completed road after finishing the construction work, but it has not responded, Marasini said. "Administrative assistance has been sought as the contractor has refused to complete the work," he said.
Praveen Mishra, an engineer with the contractor company, said that all construction crews went home and work stopped due to the lockdown. He said that the storm drains would be opened where they are blocked after the lockdown eases, and work conditions become normal.