TIKAPUR, July 29: When dark clouds start hovering in the sky, heartbeats of the locals of Dhansingpur and Narayanpur start getting faster. Every monsoon, these locals are worried about protecting their loved ones and properties from massive floods, which are a common occurrence in rivers like Karnali, Mohana, Patharaiya, and Kanda. Devastating floods time and again have rendered many people homeless and have even caused human casualties. The Rainy season has always wreaked havoc in the lives of the villagers.
When the level of water level rises in the Karnali River, water from its tributaries - Mohana, Patharaiya, and Kanda rivers - cannot flow into the main river, resulting in inundation.
Many houses get waterlogged. The authorities are yet to form a permanent measure to solve this problem. The only alternative that the locals have is to move to a higher altitude when the flood hits. This has forced many locals to abandon their homes while others stay back risking their lives.
“How can we leave our land which has been handed over to us by our ancestors?” questions Lalit Bhandari of Tikapur Municipality-7. Earlier, Dhungana Tole of Narayanpur VDC-9 had more than 150 houses. But the massive flood of 1983 swept away most of the houses and now there are only around 50 houses left. Thousands of locals are living the life of squatters due to an erosion of river banks threatening to submerge their villages. Many of the squatters have been displaced from those places. Some are sheltering in jungles while some are managing their lives in makeshift tents in the river banks.
There are various government bodies and non-governmental organizations which are entrusted with the responsibility of protecting and rescuing people from such calamities but unfortunately, none of them have been able to form long-term measures to mitigate the risk of floods. However, a flood alert system installed in the basins of Karnali jointly by Practical Action and Center for Social Development and Research in 2014 has been saving lives. According to Buddhi Kumal, Chairperson of PASDIC, the main aim of the installation is to alert the people living in river basins about the impending danger of floods.
If the level of water rises in the river, locals will automatically receive messages in their phones which will help them move toward safe zone on time. “This has saved lots of lives,” claims Chairperson Kumal. Around 29 communities living on the banks of rivers prone to flooding are notified by this system. If the water rises to danger level, the locals are immediately warned.