Around 2,500 families in Udayapur affected by Saptakoshi river floodingThe river changed course and turned west through Dumribote and entered several wards of Belaka Municipality.
Several settlements in Belaka Municipality of Udayapur district and Barahachhetra Municipality of Sunsari district have been inundated as the Saptakoshi eroded the western embankment and entered the settlement on Wednesday.
The floodwaters entered settlements at wards 1, 2, 3, 8 and 9 of Belaka and wards 6 and 9 of Barahachhetra after the flooded river eroded its western embankment in the Dumribote area. The rain-swollen river eroded around 300 metres of embankment in Dumribote.
The affected people have been rescued and shifted to safer grounds following the disaster. According to Birendra Kumar Yadav, the Chief District Officer of Udayapur, around 2,500 families have been affected in Belaka and Barahachhetra due to inundation. Yadav said around 1,800 families were rescued by late noon and all the affected families would be rescued and shifted to safer places by the evening.
Personnel from Nepal Army, Armed Police Force and Nepal Police as well as the local people have been mobilised for the rescue work.
The rescued people are sheltered at schools, temples and other community buildings.
“We left our house with our belongings once the floodwaters started deluging our settlement,” said Prakash Budhathoki of Belaka-3. “The locals along with the authorities concerned had tried to control the river by fortifying the embankments but couldn’t.”
According to him, the erosion of the riverbanks and the inundation of the settlements started gradually giving enough time to the locals to vacate the affected areas.
Belaka Municipality Mayor Ashok Karki said almost all the area of ward 3 of Belaka has been inundated while some areas of wards 8 and 9 are also waterlogged. More than 20,000 people have been displaced due to flooding, according to Karki. “The river will certainly flow through the lower part of Belaka Municipality if the river continues eroding the embankment and the river’s course won’t shift to the east,” Karki said. “The southern part of Belaka is at high risk as it is lower than the Saptakoshi river level.”
According to Karki, the river entered the settlements as efforts of all three levels of government for the past two months failed to control the flooded river.
Incessant rainfall in several eastern hill districts has caused the Saptakoshi, the country’s largest river, to swell and erode embankments since Tuesday. The course of the Saptakoshi river has shifted westward after 34 years, putting the nearby settlements of Udayapur, Saptari and Sunsarir districts at high risk.
Several settlements in Saptari’s Saptakoshi and Kanchanrup municipalities will be affected if the water level in the river keeps rising.
The Internal Affairs and Law Minister of Madhesh Province Kedar Karki inspected the affected area on Wednesday. Karki assured relief to the affected people. “Efforts are on to shift the affected people to safer locations with joint efforts of the local, provincial and the federal governments,” he said.
Similarly, floods entered Gobargadha settlement, which lies in ward 13 of Hanumannagar Kankalini Municipality in Saptari, leaving the whole settlement at high risk. According to Kuseshwar Yadav, the ward chairman, the floods started eroding a local community school and health post buildings. According to him, there are around 300 people in Gobargadha settlement who are relocating themselves to safer locations.
(With inputs from Abdhesh Kumar Jha in Saptari)