Fertile fields in Morang face inundation due to lack of proper drainage systemConstruction of a railway line along Bathnaha in India to Katahari in Nepal has put many villages at risk of floods.
More than 250 acres of paddy fields have been inundated in Biratnagar Ward No. 18 due to the ongoing construction of the railway track connecting Bathanaha in India to Katahari in Morang, Nepal.
Locals say the area has been inundated every monsoon for the last three years since the construction began. Construction of the railway track, which sits around five ft above the land surface puts many houses at risk of flooding
“The paddy fields in the ward have been waterlogged,” said Jogindra Yadav, a resident of Ward No. 18. The drainage laid along the integrated checkpost of the railway and the railway tracks are not enough to help water drain out from the paddy fields, he added.
“In the past, floodwaters used to drain out through natural water channels in the check post area. But when the check post and a wall were built, construction of the water channel was left neglected,” said Yadav.
On Wednesday, a seven-year-old boy drowned in a water-logged field near his house as. “The entire area has been waterlogged. The construction of the railway line and the link road connecting the railway line to the check post prevents floodwaters from draining out,” said Ram Lakhan Mandal, a local man, adding that his area has been witnessing rainfall for the last few days.
Rajdev Yadav, acting chairman of Biratnagar-18, said the area faces inundation problems due to lack of bridges, culverts and drain canals. “We had drawn the attention of the construction company to construct a water drain system when it started working on the railway track. But, the company did not listen to us,” said ward Yadav.
“Residents in Budhnagar, Ward No. 18 had also protested against the construction of the railway infrastructure, but the local administration did not address their concerns,” said ward chairman Yadav. He added, “The floodwaters used to drain from the check post area to Bhediyari and flow towards Baijnathpur in India. But now, the construction of the check post and railway track have blocked floodwaters. Because of this, more than 150 bighas (250 acres) of paddy fields have been lost to inundation.”
Currently, there’s only one small culvert at the check post area and it does not help drain enough water. Ward Chairman Yadav said, “Many villages in the area are at risk of being waterlogged if the rains continue.”
Indira Karki, deputy mayor of Biratnagar Metropolis, said, “The problem cannot be solved at the local level. We have asked the federal government to take initiatives to solve the problem. The railway track has been raised like a dam, but culverts, bridges and drain canals have not been constructed.” According to him, the federal government should take this problem seriously and save fertile fields from being inundated.
Meanwhile, Madan Bhujel, Morang chief district officer, said that the construction of railway track and the link road in the border area have caused inundation in the district. “We cannot do anything here. We have informed the federal government about the situation,” said Bhujel, informing that a team from the Ministry of Industry has been called to conduct a field study.
The cross-border railway line spans 18.1 km, out of which 13.1 km falls in Nepal. The Rs 4.48 billion project is being constructed with technical and financial assistance from India.
The railway service is expected to improve the import and export of goods between the two countries. It is being projected as an alternative to the Biratnagar-Jogbani border point from where factories based in the Sunsari-Morang Industrial Corridor import their raw materials in cargo lorries before the finished products are exported to India via the same route.