People’s Embankement Programme faces funds crunchAt the time when floods are likely to hit Terai districts, the People’s Embankment Programme, a government-run ambitious project which builds embankment in flood vulnerable communities in the southern plains, is facing shortage of funds.
At the time when floods are likely to hit Terai districts, the People’s Embankment Programme, a government-run ambitious project which builds embankment in flood vulnerable communities in the southern plains, is facing shortage of funds.
According to officials at the Department of Water Induced Disaster Management (DWIDM), the programme’s operations have been affected by the funds scarcity.
“We have not been able to operate as per our master plan. Limited budget has restricted our activities,” said Binay Paudel, senior divisional engineer at the DWIDM.
The programme was launched in the fiscal year 2009/10 with the allocation of Rs 1 billion for the projects.
The programme, which was handling only 10 rivers in the initial days, has seen increase in its responsibilities since. While it has to look after a total of 29 rivers across the country.
“With this budget, the department has not been able to work to its potential. We have trained manpower and technology which could be utilised,” said Paudel.
The programme has a budget of nearly Rs1.5 billion.
“There has been a threefold increase in our working area but the budget has not been increased proportionately,” he added.
Out of the total rivers, Budhi Khola, Chisang and Babai Dang were included in the project in this fiscal year. Since its launch, the programme has worked in 18 out of the total 20 districts in the Tarai.
According to Paudel, the programme has built embankments totalling 170km in length along different rivers in the Tarai districts which were threat to local communities. “People’s Embankment Programme has not only protected flood prone communities, but also aims to empower them by creating economic opportunity,” said Paudel, explaining that local people get employment opportunities during the construction phase.
Experts at divisional offices hold discussions with the local communities for selecting the embankment sites. The site is selected as per the master plans, vulnerability of the area and other possible points in future and people’s demands.
Once the construction is completed, an embankment also works as a road connecting nearby villages. An embankment alongside the river provides a five-metre wide road.
“We promote multiple use of river corridor and the reclaimed land after building an embankment.
Local communities can use reclaimed plots of land for farming or other recreational activities like playground and parks,” Paudel said.