Indian roads next to border caused tarai floods: Minister

Published On: August 14, 2017 07:15 AM NPT By: Rudra Pangeni  | @rudrapang

KATHMANDU, August 13: The highways built along the no man's land on the Indian side of the border are the major reasons behind the floods in the tarai, according to Minister for Energy, Mahendra Bahadur Shahi. 

"The highways made by elevating the land next to the Nepal-India border have restricted the natural flow of water, leaving Nepal's tarai plains submerged during the rainy season," Shahi said: "This type of inundation in the areas along the border is the first of its kind in history."

Speaking at the press conference on Sunday at his ministry to inform about the damages in an electricity supply, Minister Shahi also said that the government will discuss the issue with India during Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba's India visit slated for next week. 

Shahi is also visiting New Delhi as part of the Prime Minister's delegation.

The tarai floods induced by the structures built unilaterally by India have cost over four dozen lives and damaged properties worth millions this year.  

Shahi also said that the government has asked the Indian authorities to open the gates of the Koshi barrage, following reports of further risk due to the heavy rainfall in the past few days. 

Both the embankments and highways built adjacent to the no man's land or near the border are the reasons behind the flooding of least 1,500 bighas of land and displacement of scores of families and sumerging of farmlands, according to border expert Buddhi Narayan Shrestha.

There are already 18 structures -- barrages, embankments, joint-embankments and others -- next to the border that have been restricting the free flow of water. Several such embankments and structures like the highways have been built breaching international law and practices. 

India is constructing 1,620 kilometers of highways near the border and along the no man's land that are 10 feet high and 60 feet wide. These highways, started about eight years ago, have used the construction materials from Nepal's Chure range. 

"They only create disasters for the Nepali communities during the rainy season," Shrestha said, adding that the Sainik Basti of Banke, Tilathi, Shankharapur and Malahaniya were recent examples of flooding due to those Indian structures. 

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