Locals living along the Mahakali worry of possible floods and landslidesThey blame the Mahakali River Control Project for not paying attention to the construction of permanent embankments
With monsoon just around the corner, locals living along the Mahakali river in Darchula district say they feel like they are sitting duck for possible floods and landslides in the area.
Although the region is prone to floods every monsoon, authorities haven’t done much in terms of disaster preparedness.
According to locals, the embankment walls in most of the areas along the river are weak and prone to breakage. Though embankment walls have been constructed to control erosion in dozens of areas, they are not strong enough to hold mega-floods, they say. Tara Singh Bhandari, a local man of Lali in Lekam Rural Municipality-3, said that the walls only have two to three layers of foundation. “If a mega-flood, like the one that occurred six years ago, occurs again, the embankment is going to give way to floodwaters,” said Bhandari, referring to the Mahakali floods six years ago, which swept away 56 homes and killed at least 12 people.
The construction of a permanent embankment was initiated in the wake of the devastating Mahakali flood. Locals of Lali blamed the Mahakali River Control Project for not paying attention to the construction of permanent embankments in their areas. Kishan Singh Bista, a native of Lali, said that lands near the river bank have eroded dangerously over the years.
According to Chandra Bahadur Pal, of Malikarjun Rural Municipality-6, on the Indian side of the Mahakali river, the construction of permanent embankment is on full swing. “The Indian government is taking concrete measures to save the settlements near the river from floods, but our government is doing nothing,” said Pal.
Every monsoon, erosion of the riverbanks affects Dhap, Asikada, Sakar, Kakada, Dattu, Bet, Jaulajibi, Bholyani, Uku, Baku, Lali and Ragam.
Officials of the Mahakali River Control Project claimed that they have already constructed 8 kilometres of embankment along the river bank. In Khalanga, the district headquarters of Darchula, the construction of 4,250 metres of permanent embankment has been completed so far. According to project officials, they are yet to complete construction of around 280 metres of embankment in Khalanga.
Damodar Sapkota, acting chief of the project, said that they have been constructing an embankment between Tigram of Byas Rural Municipality to Lali Radam of Lekam Rural Municipality which according to them is an area most prone to floods.
“We are going to invite a tender to construct around a kilometre of embankment in risky areas. We have identified the risky areas in between Tigram of Byas Rural Municipality to Lali Radam of Lekam Rural Municipality,” said Sapkota.
Meanwhile, Rajendra Prasad Joshi, ward chairman of Lekam Rural Municipality-3, said that they have drawn the government’s attention to the project to construct embankment time and again, but to no avail. Joshi said, “The river has already started eroding in some parts of the bank areas.”
A month ago, a technical team of the project had conducted a field inspection and assured the local authorities that the construction work of the embankment in risky areas will be completed.