India continues to build embankment despite objections from local authoritiesThe Indian authorities have been building an embankment along the Mahakali river that Nepali side claims to be an international border.
The Indian authorities have continued the construction of an embankment along the Mahakali river in Khalanga despite Nepal’s request to halt the project, say local authorities in the border area of Darchula.
India has been constructing the embankment across the district hospital in Khalanga since mid-December. Nepali officials have claimed that the embankment is being built by encroaching on the river bank after the river changed its course towards the east during the devastating floods of 2013.
“The Indian authorities have been building the embankment on the international border by ignoring the request of the District Administration Office of Darchula to stop the project,” said Shobhakar Paudel, director of the Mahakali River Control Project.
The district administration had informed India in December that the land where the embankment was being constructed fell inside the Nepali territory.
On December 17, the District Administration Office had written to the Dharchula tehsil office of the Indian state of Uttarakhand with a request to halt the embankment project. The office had also sent a copy of the letter to the Ministry of Home Affairs in Kathmandu.
Two follow-up letters were also sent to the ministry on December 20 and January 4 as India had not halted the project as requested.
According to the Darchula district office, the Ministry of Home Affairs had corresponded with its Indian counterpart raising concern about the matter.
In the second week of January, a technical team from the Survey Department had also visited the site, but there has been no response so far.
According to Chief District Officer Sharad Kumar Pokharel, his office has repeatedly contacted the Ministry of Home Affairs but there has been no formal response so far.
The technical team led by Jayananda Joshi, chief survey officer at the department, had inspected the embankment construction site and prepared a report.
“We submitted the report to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on January 18,” said Joshi.
A high level team from the federal Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation, led by joint secretary Murmahammad Khan, had also visited the area recently and informed the line ministry about the embankment construction.
“I have also written to the Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation about the matter. Though we do not directly report to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, they are abreast of the situation through the Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation,” said Paudel.
According to him, the construction work has continued since it began in December.
“They [Indian authorities] have already dug a foundation to raise a 70-80 metres long embankment. Scores of workers have been mobilised at the site. They have already laid the foundation work at around 20 metres area,” Paudel said.
Nepali officials say that the Indian side should construct the embankment as per the border points fixed by the Nepal-India joint survey team along the border between two countries.
“The technical team has determined the border with India. We have left enough area along the riverbank on the Nepali side while constructing embankment. India should also construct the infrastructure accordingly,” said an employee at the Mahakali River Control Project.
According to technicians, the Nepali side will be at high risk of flooding if India constructs the embankment.
“There is a risk that the embankment on the Indian side will further push the river towards the Nepali side,” said Mahendra Prasad Badu, a retired government engineer.