Mahakali river inflicts perpetual fear on Kutiyakbhar residentsThe settlement of 42 families suffers inundation regularly during the monsoon.
Tek Bahadur Sunar, a resident of Kutiyakbhar in ward 10 of Dodhara Chandani Municipality in Kanchanpur, fled his home on Monday morning once the sirens started blaring alerting residents of the oncoming flood.
This is a regular occurrence for Kutiyakbhar residents during the monsoon season.
Dodhara Chandani, sandwiched between two rivers—Mahakali and Jogbudha—is at high risk of floods and inundation with the increase in the water levels in both rivers. The local unit in Kanchanpur was formed by merging the then Dodhara and Chandani village development committees.
The Nepal Telecom Authority sends out text message alerts while the Community Disaster Management Committee is responsible for turning the sirens on as soon as the water levels in the rivers increase.
“The floodwaters entered the settlement in a matter of seconds after we received the alert. We grabbed what we could from the house and ran,” said Tek Bahadur. “Soon after security personnel came around to help us leave.” According to him, the floodwaters from the Mahakali have been eroding the fields and the settlement for the past month.
The Kutiyakbhar residents started returning home to salvage what they could a couple of hours later once the floodwaters started receding.
Forty-two families live in Kutiyakbhar. Most of the houses in the settlement are at high risk of floods and inundation. Nain Singh Sunar, a local man, says that despite efforts from both the government and non-governmental organisations to fortify the embankments to save the settlement, erosion by the two rivers on either side hasn’t stopped.
“Two years ago, floods in both rivers had inundated Kutiyakbhar completely putting the lives of hundreds of us at risk,” said Nain Singh. “The two rivers have been eroding the landmass steadily year by year. The rivers are cutting into the settlement every year. With each passing year, the risk is greater.”
Khadke Budha, another local man, who keeps a wooden boat on standby for flood emergencies, says that he prepared in advance but was caught unprepared this time. “My boat was swept away by the river a month ago. I had kept it unmoored on the riverbanks thinking it was not time yet for floods, but I was wrong,” he said. “Now I won’t be able to help anyone without my boat. We don’t know when the sirens will go off telling us to vacate homes.”
The floodwaters that entered Kutiyakbhar on Monday morning had receded by evening with the decrease in the water level in the Mahakali River, according to the Area Police Office in Dodhara Chandani. “Three-four bighas of cultivable land was inundated by floods on Monday,” Superintendent of Police Arjun Saud from the Area Police Office told the Post. “The water level can increase anytime in both the rivers, so the settlement is still not out of danger. Although the water level has decreased, the river has not stopped eroding the embankments,” he said. According to him, the water level in the Mahakali River had reached 196,000 cusecs on Monday which decreased to 105,000 cusecs on Tuesday and came down further to 88,562 cusecs.
Kutiyakbhar residents live in fear of floods not only during the monsoon season, but also during the dry season, says Budha. “The Indian side releases water from the Sharada Barrage into the Jogbudha river which puts Kutiyakbhar residents at risk. The locals have time and again requested the authorities to move their settlement someplace safe,” he said. “We hope our pleas will be heard soon.”