Eagle’s Eye: Floods in Terai region
Eagle’s Eye: Floods in Terai region
|Maoist’s leaders in Kathmandu too have lost no time in condemning India and the “unequal treaties” for the devastations and deaths caused by the Kosi floods, ignoring the fact that similar devastations have been caused on the Indian side of the border too because of the breach- Arabinda GhoseIn what appears to be a case of shifting the blame for all ills in Nepal on India and the plethora of “unequal treaties” between the two countries since 1950, both the President and the Prime Minister of Nepal have blamed the “unequal treaty” between Nepal and India signed in 1954 for the devastations caused in Nepalese territory near the Indian border in eastern Nepal apparently because of the collapse of embankments within the Nepalese territory on the turbulent Kosi river.
Not only Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal who visited the devastated area on August 20,but even the President, Dr. Ram Baran Yadav, blamed the “unequal treaty” with India regarding the Kosi project for the devastations and loss of life. India and Nepal had signed a Treaty on April 24, 1954 for harnessing the Kosi, ” Bihar ‘s river of sorrow”, for benefit of both the countries. The Treaty was signed by Mr. Gulzari Lal Nanda, India ‘s Minister of Planning and Mr. Mahabir Shumshere, the Irrigation Minister in the Matrika Prasad Koirala government; on April 24, 1954 .
The Treaty provided for a barrage across the Kosi at Hanumannagar within Nepali territory. From the eastern, and western extremes of this barrage, two 75-miles (120 kms) long embankments were to be built in order to confine the river with these embankments within Bihar in order to prevent it from shifting its course every year affecting then the bigger districts of Saharsa and Supaul, which were later bifurcated and trifurcated.
These embankments did confine the Kosi River within the two embankments in Bihar. People from 309 villages had to be shifted outside for building these embankments. In Nepal, India had built the Chatra canal taking Kosi waters to the eastern areas and later the Western Kosi Canal too was built which further increased the irrigated areas in Nepal . Informally as a quid pro quo, India had agreed to build the Trishuli Hydro-electric Project with an installed capacity of 21,000 MW for Nepal .
The ever-turbulent Kosi this time has breached the embankment on the northern side which has made it flow through this breach with no water reaching the barrage. Kosi waters are now flowing through populated areas affecting people of both the countries – not Nepal alone. Indian Embassy in Nepal had already alerted the Nepalese authorities about this danger as a team had gone there to inspect the condition of the river. The Nepalese side had ignored this warning, because the people were busy in Government formation and no one was bothered about the plight of the people. Large areas have been inundated and many have died. The Prime Minister flew to the site and, according to some reports in Nepali media, had alleged that the “unequal Kosi-Treaty was responsible for the plight of the people.
The President of the Republic hailing from the Terai area must be aware of the ground reality. He too however, has demanded scrapping of the “unequal treaties” Maoist’s leaders in Kathmandu too have lost no time in condemning India and the “unequal treaties” for the devastations and deaths caused by the Kosi floods, ignoring the fact that similar devastations have been caused on the Indian side of the border too because of the breach.
Both the countries have agreed since decades that the permanent solution for this problem would be to build the 750-metre high Kosi High Dam across the river at Barahkshetra where the river joins the plains. However, nothing had been done for decades. About four years ago, Nepal did agree to construction of this dam along with some other river valley projects. This dam has been named the Sapta Kosi High Dam and a working group from India is already carrying on preliminary survey work on this project.
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