Access to power decides where embankments get built: Report

Published On: July 28, 2019 06:40 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

The poor left vulnerable to flooding

KATHMANDU, July 28: A parliamentary committee has found that embankments in the flood-prone southern plains were constructed on the basis of access to the corridors of power rather than as per the need on the ground. This has led to flood risk in the settlements of economically deprived communities.

Following a field visit of the inundation affected areas in different parts of the country, the State Affairs Committee of parliament has said that the embankments project Janata ko Tatbandha raised embankments in response to those with political clout instead of the needs on the ground.

Janata ko Tatabandh is a river training project meant to be carried out with popular participation in order to reduce erosion and inundation from the various 14 big rivers in the tarai . According to a disaster review report from the Ministry of Irrigation, about 115 km of embankment has already been constructed under the project since the past few years.

Reports from various governmental and non-government organizations said that the settlements of economically deprived communities have been badly affected by recent flooding and inundation. Some 17,000 families have been displaced temporarily.

The parliamentary committee report has suggested issuing a directive to the government to take diplomatic initiatives to bring flooding and inundation in the Nepal-India border areas under control. “Embankments constructed on the Indian side of the border have been causing inundation on the Nepali side and soil erosion on the Indian side. Both countries should take diplomatic initiatives to resolve the issue,” the report states.

The field report has underlined the need for policy and for structural initiatives from all the federal, provincial and local governments to mitigate the flood havoc that visits the tarai plains every year during the monsoons. The report has also suggested a policy initiative to protect the areas around rivers and retrieve the encroached areas .

As various reports point out that illegally built structures have caused inundation in various places including in Kathmandu Valley, the parliamentary committee report has sought action against those involved in building such illegal structures .

Similarly, the report has indicated a lack of scientific approach while excavating sand and aggregates from the rivers. In the findings chapter the report mentions that the government budget for disaster risk reduction is inadequate and whatever budget has been allocated has not been used appropriately .

Substandard physical infrastructures have also been identified as the source of disasters in various areas, in addition to the exploitation of the Chure range.

Lawmakers had visited the flooded and inundated areas in the Valley and various districts of Province -2 , in three groups. The committee compiled the report from the three separate teams on Friday, said one lawmaker.

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