Province 2 braces for floods as incessant rainfall sends rivers gushingFollowing continuous rainfall since Wednesday, Koshi, Kamala, Bagmati, Bakaiya, Ratu, Khando and Lakhandehi rivers have witnessed surges.
Officials and residents of Province 2 are on high alert after local rivers witnessed surges following incessant monsoon rains for the past three days.
Chief Minister Lal Babu Raut, who met chiefs of security agencies in Janakpur on Friday, directed them to prepare for possible disasters.
“We are on high alert and have mobilised rescue teams in disaster-prone areas,” said Deputy Inspector General (Armed Police Force) Raju Aryal. “Areas where floods wreaked havoc last year are being closely monitored,” he added.
Security units are on standby on the riverbanks in Rautahat, Sarlahi, Mahottari and Saptari districts and they are equipped with necessary resources to conduct rescue and relief work.
The water level in the Koshi, Kamala, Bagmati, Bakaiya, Ratu, Khando and Lakhandehi have surged to danger levels following continuous rainfall.
In the second week of July 2019, floods triggered by incessant rains had affected all eight districts of the province. Property worth millions of rupees was destroyed after the floodwaters breached the embankments of various rivers and entered settlements.
“Last year, the floods and inundation affected us severely. This year again, we are witnessing heavy rains. We have asked security teams to stay prepared for any disasters to prevent loss of lives and properties,” said Chief Minister Raut.
According to the Saptari District Police Office, 38 out of 56 doors of the Saptakoshi barrage have been opened after the water crossed the danger level on Friday morning. "Flow in the Saptakoshi has reached 256,615 cusecs," said Inspector Santosh Khadka, Saptari District Police. "Thirty-eight doors of the barrage have now been opened." Locals living near the banks have been alerted, said Khadka.
Pressure on the western embankment in Nepal, some 19km south of the barrage, has been steadily increasing for the past few days given the rainfall, officials said. Increased water flow has put different parts of Hanumannagar Kankalini Municipality at risk, said Mayor Shailesh Kumar Sah. Similarly, a ward in Tilathi Koiladi Rural Municipality near the western embankment is also at risk of flood, said Satish Kumar Singh, chair of the rural municipality.
In Rautahat, vehicular movement along the Lachka road section of the East-West Highway has been obstructed since Friday morning due to flooding. Around 300 vehicles, including trucks, remain stranded. Some villages in the northern parts of the district have been waterlogged due to lack of proper drains. Eighty percent of the district had been inundated during last year’s monsoon.
In Mahottari, 19,788 households are at risk of floods and inundation, officials said. The District Disaster Management Committee predicts that 14 out of 15 local units in the district will be inundated this year too.
Raj Kumar Das, a resident of Bhangaha Municipality-4, said he feels threatened as his house is next to the Ratu river. “It feels like my house can be washed away any minute. The river is swelling and will soon break its embankments.”
Every year, floods in the Ratu, Jangaha, Maraha, Banke, Bigahi and Baksi claim lives and property in the district. Krishna Bahadur Katuwal, Mahottari Chief District Officer, said they have already identified safe locations for people who need to be evacuated and also purchased equipment (needed for relief and rescue works).
Local units like Bhangaha, Balawa, Ekdara, Jaleshwor, Mathihani, Mahottari and Manarasiswa also claimed that they have worked towards mitigating the risk of a disaster in the area this year. Bhangaha Mayor Sanjiv Sah said, “We completed the construction of an embankment on the Ratu river this year. We hope the embankment will hold the river this year.”
On Wednesday, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority issued a statement forecasting incessant rainfall from Thursday to Sunday in Province 1, Province 2, and Bagmati and Gandaki provinces.
“The water level will increase in the Kankai, Koshi, Kamala, Bagmati and Narayani and their tributaries,” the statement reads, “We urge people, especially those residing near the rivers that flow through Chure and Tarai in Province 1 and 2, to remain on alert from Friday to Sunday.”
The authority also warned of possible inundation in parts of Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari, Saptari, Dhanusha, Mahottari, Siraha, Sarlahi, Bara, Parsa, Rautahat and Chitwan districts.
Shiva Puri in Rautahat, Abdhesh Kumar Jha in Saptari and Sunita Baral in Mahottari contributed reporting.