Embankment to protect Dodhara Chandani is always a poll agendaThe old embankment built in 1994 has lost its original height to siltation in the Mahakali river and provides little protection to the settlements.
Dodhara Chandani, a local unit sandwiched between Mahakali and Jogbuda rivers in Kanchanpur district, is prone to floods and inundation. The settlements in the municipality are at risk with the Mahakali river posing a greater threat since the 21-km-long embankment constructed along the river is now in dilapidated condition.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) constructed the embankment in 1994 to control the Mahakali river from entering the settlements. The old embankment has lost its original height to siltation in the river and provides little protection to the settlement.
“The embankment constructed nearly three decades ago is old and needs repair. It has been breached in many places. Every monsoon we fear the flooded Mahakali will enter the settlement,” said Dhan Bahadur Budha, a local of Dodhara Chandani-10.
The local people have demanded reconstruction of the embankment at the earliest to protect Dodhara Chandani.
According to Budha, the flooded Mahakali river almost entered the settlement from the Bayalband area in October last year. “The local people and local authorities built a temporary wall and averted the immediate threat. Various settlements in the municipality are at high risk of flooding,” he said.
Reconstruction of the embankment features on every local politician and political party’s agenda every time the country goes to the polls. This year is no different.
As the federal and provincial election fever grips the country, the embankment reconstruction has again been turned into an election agenda. The candidates of major political parties and independent candidates have prioritised Dodhara Chandani in their election campaigns. Several election rallies have been launched focussing on Dodhara Chandani as it is viewed as a decisive factor to win the election.
“Almost all candidates contesting the election for the House of Representatives and provincial assembly have expressed their commitment to rebuild the embankment. But they forget their promise once the election is over,” said Indra Bahadur Khatri of Dodhara Chandani.
Dodhara Chandani Municipality, which lies in constituency-3 of Kanchanpur, was formed by merging the then Dodhara and Chandani VDCs. According to the Election Commission data, there are a total of 97,822 voters in Kanchanpur-3 and 26,852 among them are from Dodhara Chandani. Twelve candidates are vying for a seat in the House of Representatives from Kanchanpur-3 in the upcoming elections.
According to Khatri, who is also a former member of the then Rastriya Panchayat, a master plan to construct an embankment along the Mahakali river was made after King Birendra visited the Dodhara Chandani area around 35 years ago. An embankment had been constructed soon after the royal visit but it was soon damaged by the floods. The locals of Dodhara Chandani were relieved after JICA constructed the current embankment.
Dodhara Chandani borders India. King Mahendra had set up a settlement circa 1963 under his policy of making settlements in the bordering areas. The settlements were often hit by floods and inundations every year. According to the locals, the villagers used to save their lives by moving to higher grounds or climbing trees when the floods entered the settlement. The locals would not build concrete houses before JICA built the embankment.
“People had to struggle to save their lives in the past. The Dodhara Chandani areas became livable only after the construction of the embankment in 1994. But the embankment is now in desperate need of fortification and repair,” said Budha. “The leaders are expressing their commitment to reconstruct the embankment. Let’s see what they will do after the election.”