Meghauli locals want politicians to fulfil promise to rebuild embankmentsSome structures constructed last year have already been destroyed by this year’s rains.
Shivakala Paudel, a resident of Niure Chok in Meghauli, Chitwan was unexcited when Nepal Communist Party chair Puspa Kamal Dahal came to her town last week.
Dahal, who visited his constituency, reiterated that an embankment will be built on the Narayani next year. “Paperwork to start the construction has already started,” Dahal had assured locals.
But for Paudel and his neighbours who have been living with the Narayani and its floods for the past three years, assurances from politicians don’t mean anything.
“The Narayani has been eroding its banks for the last three years and we still don’t have a permanent embankment,” he said. “Every monsoon, leaders tell us that they will ensure that embankments are in place before the next monsoon. But nothing happens.”
Niure lies on the border between Wards 27 and 28 of Bharatpur Metropolis, where the People’s Embankment Programme and Narayani River Control Project constructed several embankments. But they were damaged during the monsoons of 2017 and 2018. Much to the relief of the locals, the area witnessed comparatively less rainfall this season.
Residents of Gaiee, Sisabas, Panjana, Yogitol, Naya Gaun, Laukhuri, Tamang Gaun, and Golaghat on the riverbanks are affected by floods and inundation every year. “Around 400 to 500 households face inundation at Niure Chowk. People are living with a constant fear of floods,” said Ash Bahadur Kumal, the Ward 28 chairman.
According to Kumal, the river has continued to erode its banks for the last 11 years. “More than Rs 10 million has been spent on embankments annually for the last eight years. But the embankments don’t last,” said Kumal.
The structure built last year has already been destroyed by this year’s rains. “This year, we could not work properly due to the pandemic. Though there was a contract worth Rs 8.7 million this year, we could only spend Rs 1.7 million,” said Meghnath Gaire, chief at the Narayani River Control Project.
Govind Tamang, chairman of Ward 27, said a one km long strong embankment should be constructed on the river to protect the settlements from flooding.
Meanwhile, paddy planted in 400 bighas of land in Bara was swept away after floodwaters from various streams originating in the Chure and Bhawar regions entered the fields this monsoon.
In Belhiya, Bangari and Kirkichaha streams have washed away paddy plantations on 350 bighas. Sahim Ansari, a local farmer at Parsauni Rural Municipality, said, “Our fields are replete with pebbles and sand. Around 150 farmers have been affected here.”
Besides, more than 50 bighas of paddy fields have been lost in Ward 19 of Jitpur Simara Sub-metropolis, said Mahendra Sah, a local.
Jitendra Yadav, chief at Agriculture Knowledge Centre, Bara, said the river entered fertile plots of land as sand and pebbles were extracted haphazardly from the riverbeds in the Chure area.
“Floodwaters enter the paddy fields in Katgaun, Haraiya, Bodhban, Prasauna, Madhuban, Naya Basti and other areas every year,” he said.
Laxmi Sah in Bara contributed reporting.