Saptari stares at flooding season with no concrete plansMost of the settlements in the district are prone to floods and inundation in the absence of proper embankment along the rivers and a lack of water outlets.
Each year, hundreds of people from various settlements in Saptari are greatly affected by floods in the Khando River.
Last week, Khando River Management Project in Saptari—a government agency responsible for controlling floods and carrying out flood emergency preparedness—said it will not be able to execute any flood control, emergency relief and rescue work to save people’s lives and properties this monsoon season for a lack of budget. This decision has left many local residents worried about possible floods and landslides.
Satya Narayan Yadav of Tilathi Koiladi-8 says every year during monsoon, his settlement gets inundated by the flood in the Khando River.
“But in the past, there would be some level of preparation from the authorities to mitigate such disasters,” he said. “This year, the project office says it can do nothing in case of floods. This is sheer negligence.”
Rewakanta Yadav, the chief at the project office, wrote to the local units in Saptari district on Sunday, informing them that the project will be unable to carry out any emergency flood control work this year due to budget shortage.
The project office has urged the local units to take the necessary measures to deal with water-induced disasters themselves. “We are unable to carry out emergency control work until we receive a budget for the same,” reads the letter dispatched to the local bodies.
According to Yadav, the federal government has not issued a budget under emergency river control in the current fiscal year.
The Meteorological Forecasting Division predicts more rainfall and a longer rainy season this year. But the authorities in Saptari, one of the highly flood-prone districts in Province 2, are not prepared to control the floods and inundation and protect people's lives and properties.
Chief District Officer of Saptari Phanindramani Pokharel admits the authorities’ failure to do substantial work to control rivers and streams during the rainy season.
“The early warning system is weak. The authorities have failed to take measures to prepare for disasters,” said Pokharel during a virtual meeting of the concerned authorities and stakeholders on Friday.
Hundreds of people, if not thousands, are affected by the floods in several rivers and streams in Saptari district every year. The floods in the Koshi, Triyuga, Khando, Mahuli, Sundari, Balan, Kajara, Mutani, Ghodadah and Jita, among other rivers and streams, enter the settlements and damage crops planted in hundreds of hectares of land.
According to Yadav, most of the places in Saptari are prone to floods and inundation in the absence of a proper embankment along the rivers and a lack of water outlets. “Although flooding is a recurring problem, we haven’t been able to initiate sustainable measures to resolve it due to budget shortage,” he said.
Satish Kumar Singh, the chairman of Tilathi Koiladi Rural Municipality, is critical of the project office’s remark.
“The project office cannot shy away from its duty and responsibility. The office was established to control the Khando River and to mitigate flood-related disasters caused by the river,” said Singh. “The rural municipality is also working for flood control but we won’t be able to do it alone.”
All eight districts of Province 2 are at risk of floods and inundation. However, the preparedness to control the disaster and protect people’s lives and properties is lacking.
In Dhanusha, several settlements are affected by floods and inundation every year. The floods in the Kamala and Aurahi rivers enter the settlements and cause massive damages. But the district administration does not have a concrete disaster preparedness plan, except directing the local units to take the necessary measures to control floods and manage emergency relief and rescue work.
“We have asked the local governments to be prepared for emergency works and manage rescue materials and reliefs. The security agencies have been kept on high alert,” said Chief District Officer Bandu Prasad Bastola.
Meanwhile, Nepal Police personnel conducted a flood emergency rescue drill in Gangasagar pond in Janakpur on Monday.(Santosh Singh contributed reporting from Dhanusha)