Floods damage arable land in Pyuthan every monsoonFarmers in Pyuthan Municipality are seeking government help to protect their fields that the Jhimruk river has been turning into dry desolate land.
The Jhimruk stream in Pyuthan destroyed around 246 hectares of cultivable land in 2016. Since then the stream has been continuously breaching its banks and destroying huge swathes of paddy fields and threatening settlements at Bagdula, Punyakhola, Bijuwar, Jurmi and Kwadi, among others.
Bhuwan Pandit, a local resident of Badar in Pyuthan Municipality Ward-10, lost his paddy field to the stream five years ago. During the dry season, the area where his arable land used to be turns into a sandbed. "I used to grow 12 muri (one muri equals 72 kilograms) of paddy every harvest season,” said Pandit. “But now the field has become barren, filled with stones, pebbles and sand.”
In July 2016, the flooded stream had destroyed arable land from Damti to Dakhakwadi.
Still, local farmers still have hopes of reviving the destroyed fields and seeking the help of authorities.
“We can toil in the fields and revive it but since there’s still no embankment to keep the stream from entering the fields again, we feel it will be a wasted effort,” said Pandit. “If authorities help us build an embankment, we can go back to farming the land again.”
Hemraj Pandit, a local resident of Pyuthan Municipality Ward-7, said he also lost his paddy field to floods in the Jhumri stream five years ago. “I used to grow three muri of paddy in my field but for the past five years, I haven’t tried farming. The stream can damage the fields again and I don’t want my hard work to go to waste.”
Embankments have been constructed in some parts, but this hasn’t solved the problem, says Hemraj. “There should be embankments along the entire stretch of the river to save lives and property,” he said.
The stream still spills over its banks every monsoon, flooding fertile fields.
“Over the past few years, the stream has turned around 300 ropanis of paddy fields in Pyuthan Municipality into sandbeds,” said Negan Singh Kunwar, a resident of Pyuthan Municipality-10.
The local people have constructed a Gabion wall along the 100-metre stretch of the stream at their own expense, as the government authorities did nothing to help them control the floods.
“The local government has not spent even a single rupee to construct the embankment or taken any measures to stop flooding,” said Kunwar.
The Water-Induced Disaster Management Committee and Irrigation Division Office in Pyuthan constructed embankments in some places along the stream but have failed to repair and maintain the embankments.
“They constructed embankments in flood-prone areas but soon after the monsoon hit, the embankments were washed away,” said Shalikram Pandit, a resident of Pyuthan Municipality-7.
Around 1,000 ropani of paddy fields in the Saribang Pyuthan Municipality-10 have already been damaged by floods.
A total of Rs 11 million was spent to control floods in Pyuthan district under the People’s Embankment Programme in the last fiscal year. According to Bishnu Bhakta Thapa, the accounts officer at Pyuthan office of the programme, the budget was released to construct embankments at seven different places from Thulabensi of Gaumukhi Rural Municipality to Khaira of Pyuthan Municipality.
However, Rs 3 million allocated for the construction of embankment at Khaira was frozen as the construction work could not be initiated last fiscal year.
“The embankment construction work could not be done as the budget was released at the end of the fiscal year 2020/21,” said Pandit of Tikuri. “Had the budget been released earlier, we could have formed consumer committees and taken the responsibility of building embankments ourselves.”