Local authority starts assessing Koshi flood damage after five decadesAn estimated 25,000 people have been affected by the river in the past 54 years
Five decades after the Koshi swept away land and displaced hundreds of people in Barahachhetra Municipality, the local authority in Sunsari has started assessment of the damage caused by the river, with an objective of providing compensation for the affected people.
The municipality initiated work to ascertain the damage and the affected families by forming the Saptakoshi Flood Victims and Landless Squatter Management Committee on June 5. The committee chaired by Phanindra Prasad Bhattarai is collecting relevant data on the flood victims and their loss of property at all the 11 wards of the municipality.
Hundreds of people had been displaced in repeated floods on the river since 1964. Hectares of fertile land had turned to sandy banks. Three generations of the displaced people have lived on public land on the eastern bank of the river.
Mayor Nilam Khanal said the municipality had taken initiatives to gather information on the flood victims and destruction of their property as hundreds of people had been been without land for years.
“The committee has been formed to manage hundreds of families who are living on public land, forest land, and land belonging to the railway in unmanaged ways,” he added.
The government had formed a committee led by Kumar Paudel seven years ago to identify the flood victims’ problems and bring solutions to them. The committee also submitted a report to the government, but the report has not been evaluated and implemented yet.
Koshi flood victims have been demanding compensation for their lost properties. They renewed pressure on the elected representatives after the local level elections of 2017. They have submitted memoranda to the municipality time and again seeking a permanent solution to their problems.
The homeless families have also requested the municipal office to talk to the Indian authorities for compensation. Pralhad Thapa, chairman of Koshi flood/erosion struggle committee, complained that the settlements north of the Kashi barrage were at risk a few years after the barrage was built. The barrage was constructed between 1958 and 1962 following a deal between Nepal and India.
Thapa said that the hectares of land were swept away and inundated while settlements near the river were threatened as water level in the country’s biggest river rose due to siltation. Besides compensation, the displaced have been demanding ID cards, reservation quotas, free education and other essential measures.
As per the data available with the municipality, around 25,000 people have been affected by Koshi river floods in the last 54 years. In that period, 2,521 families were displaced and 4,077 bighas of land swept away.
Committee Chairman Bhattarai, who is also the chief of Barahachhetra Ward 7, said that the committee would collect data on the affected people and the destruction of their property and urge the federal government to provide necessary help