Monsoon means disaster in Madhes ProvinceSeveral settlements in Rautahat and Saptari face yearly displacement and loss of lives and properties caused by floods and inundation.
Every year during the monsoon, floods and inundations wreak havoc in Madhesh Province which comprises eight Tarai districts. Thousands of people face displacement, loss of lives and property due to the lack of preparedness by the authorities to control such water-induced disasters.
In Saptari, a Musahar settlement in Hanumannagar Kankalini Municipality-4 is at high risk of floods as the Mahuli stream has started eroding the embankment. The 10 impoverished Dalit families of the settlement, who are living on encroached land, are living in fear of displacement as the government authorities and people’s representatives have not taken any initiatives to protect the settlement from the floods.
“The settlement is being eroded by the Mahuli stream in the west and a small water outlet from the east. One house was swept away recently while others are at high risk. We are encircled by floods but nobody is concerned about our plight,” said Manju Devi Sada, a resident of the Musahar settlement.
On Monday night, the area received heavy rainfall and the water level in the Mahuli stream increased, trapping the villagers inside the settlement.
“The erosion is increasing day by day. The settlement will turn into a sandy bank within a few days if the stream and rivulet are not controlled immediately. We have nowhere to go if the floods displace us,” said Manju Devi. She urged the concerned authorities and the local unit to protect their settlement from flooding and erosion.
According to Mauli Mandal, the ward chairman of Hanumannagar Kankalini-4, the flood waters flowing from the northern side last year eroded the area near the Musahar settlement and emptied into the Mahuli stream. He admitted that the settlement is at high risk of floods this year too.
“The flood already swept away a house while others are at risk. Efforts are underway to control the floods and protect the settlement by installing hume pipes,” said Birendra Majhi, the mayor of Hanumannagar Kankalini.
In mid-July last year, Chandiya village in Rajdevi Municipality-3 of Rautahat was inundated following continuous rainfall. Every single house in the village was submerged. The villagers left their houses and ran. Some people were injured when their houses collapsed.
Jayram Shah recalls his house collapsing while his whole family was inside. “We nearly died. All of us suffered injuries,” said Shah.
Every monsoon, Chandiya residents struggle to keep afloat and save themselves and their properties from floods in the Bagmati River. The floodwaters from the river enter the village every year resulting in floods and inundation.
“Nobody can understand our situation except us. We suffer every year. The government does nothing to address our problem,” said Shah.
There are about 200 households in Chandiya village and all of them have been displaced by monsoon disasters. A 44 km-long dam has been constructed with the help of the Government of India to prevent loss of property due to floods in the Bagmati River. All the displaced folks from Chandiya have to take shelter in the dam area every year.
The villages bordering Chandiya, including the district headquarters Gaur, are living the same fate. The floodwaters from the Lalbakaiya and Bagmati rivers inundate the settlement during the monsoon and inundate 80 percent of the land every year.
Three days ago, the district administration instructed the local units in the district to start preparing for water-induced disasters this monsoon.
“We spend our days and nights worrying about how to save our lives and the lives of our family during the rainy season. We have been suffering for the past 29 years and it seems like the government does not want to listen to us,” said Pramod Das of Durga Bhagwati Rural Municipality-5.
There are about 300 houses built in and around the dam area in the Bagmati River and all of them are at high risk of being submerged this rainy season.
According to Chief District Officer Krishna Bahadur Shahi, the main problem of Rautahat has always been floods and inundation. The office has instructed all its local units to be prepared for water-induced disasters.
According to the data of the District Police Office in Rautahat, 90 people have been killed in floods and inundation in different parts of the district in the last three years. Six people, including two women, have gone missing, about 70,000 households have been affected, 20,000 families displaced and over 400 cattle killed in the floods.