Crossing Mahakali on risky Tuins continues to kill people in far-western Nepal


DHANGADI/BAITADI/DARCHULA: Sachin Budhathoki, 18, went missing after falling into the Mahakali River at Gothal Ghat in Dumling on Wednesday while trying to cross the river via a Tuin (improvised cable crossing). A search for him is on. Budhathoki has gone missing after the cable crossing snapped and he fell into the river on Wednesday while he was returning to Nepal from India with some belongings.  

Many people lose their lives every year while trying to cross the river. Residents of the northern region of Darchula are forced to rely on the risky Tuin as a means of transportation. 

Jaisingh Dhami, 33, of Byas Rural Municipality-2 had gone missing after falling from Tuin while crossing the Mahakali River on July 31 last year. According to locals, Jaisingh fell into the river and disappeared after the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) personnel cut the Tuin's cable.

Due to the lack of bridges over the river, locals have been dying every year. The incidents of people disappearing or dying in the river after falling off the Tuin is unlikely to stop until at least a suspension bridge is built by displacing the cable crossing.

Citizens of the geographically remote Byas village are still forced to commute through Tuin. Residents have been crossing the river on a Tuin to the Indian market for daily necessities. Sobhan Singh Khati of Sunsera said that there is no alternative for students, pregnant women, the elderly or the disabled to cross the river. 

Although Tuin was considered as an alternative to facilitate transportation and food supply to the district headquarters Khalanga, it has now become the main mode of transportation. People have to rely on tuin to go to and return from the Nepal-India border market Dharchula. 

According to the police, 15 people lost their lives and more than a dozen have gone missing while crossing the Mahakali River on the Nepal-India border from mid-June 2015 to mid-July 2018. 

In the northern region of Darchula, there are several Tuins in Dumling Rithan, Malghat, and Dokat and Nazis of Ward 5 in existence. Most of the residents of this region use Tuins as the road to Nepal is not good at Malghat, which is an hour and a half drive from Dharchula, India. Nepalis have to depend on Indian roads due to the convenience of motor roads as soon as they enter Dharchula, India. In winter, it is easier to cross the river on a Tuin when the river flow is low, but it becomes more difficult in the monsoon. 

Despite the agreement to build a bridge connecting Nepal and India years ago, only suspension bridges have been built at four places. Few people use Nepal's footpath as it is easy to reach the district headquarters by the Indian route. 

While using the Indian route, the locals have to endure the daily harassment and mistreatment by the Indian security personnel. Chakra Singh Hyanki of Byas Rural Municipality-2, Rapla, said that people are forced to risk their lives while crossing the river for food. He says that the food crisis in the region will be lessened if the Darchula-Tinkar road and bridge under construction are built. Bridges have been built in four places for the displacement of Tuin. Although the bridges of Badugaun and Tigaram came into operation, the bridges of Madgaon and Mal have not come into operation despite being completed. 

Home minister directs security personnel to search for missing teenager

Meanwhile, Home Minister Bal Krishna Khand has instructed the district administration to search for Sachin Budhathoki, 18, who has gone missing after falling into the Mahakali River while trying to cross the river through a tuin at Gothal Ghat in Dumling on Wednesday. 

The home minister and home secretary expressed concern over the incident over the phone to Dirgharaj Upadhyaya, the chief district officer, Darchula, and instructed him to search for the missing teenager, said Upadhyaya. Nepal Police and Armed Police Force personnel have been deployed at the spot since yesterday.

He said that a team of Armed Police Force trained in disaster management from five places in the district has been searching for missing Sachin since this morning. According to him, nine persons from Dumling BOP, 20 persons from Battalion 44, seven persons from Dattu BOP, seven persons from Jauljivi and Lali BOPs and all police units of Mahakali coastal area were deployed at Mahakali since this morning.

After the Tuin incident, the Indian side was also verbally requested to assist in the search, said Upadhyaya. The Indian SSB is also reported to be assisting in the search for the teenager. He said the search was intensified but the teenager has not been found yet.


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