July 3, 2018 02:00 AM NPT
Flood and landslide risks
Monsoon is in full swing for the last few days. We are already receiving reports of damage to properties, livestock and deaths of people. Monsoon in Nepal has become the source of big consternation for the people living in the hills and the plains as we have been witnessing deaths and destruction every single year. It must not be so this year, and for this the government must keep its early warning and preparedness system up and running round the clock and also keep the rescue team fully equipped and at high alert. Early signs indicate that what happened last year and years before that might happen once again. Reports of torrential rain causing floods and landslides, obstructing highways, inundating urban areas, and badly affecting lives of people have started to come in from various parts of the country. As of this writing, monsoon rain has already caused great inconvenience in mobility and day to day life of people.
In Dang, incessant rain of the past two days has caused flooding in over one dozen seasonal rivers along Tulsipur-Ghorahi-Lamahi road section disrupting transport service. The flooded Twang River at Babai Rural Municipality-5 swept away a passenger bus. The roads remained empty because of increasing level of waters in local rivers. Settlements near Rapti and Babai rivers have been urged to remain on high alert. Power supply and internet services have been disrupted. Likewise, landslides have obstructed Narayanghat-Mugling road section disrupting the vehicular movement. A jeep was buried by landslide near Krishnabheer along Prithivi Highway. In Nuwakot, 17 families from Myagang Rural Municipality have been shifted to safer locations after threats of landslides. Butwal-Tansen section of Siddhartha Highway has remained obstructed due to landslide at Siddhababa. Vehicles plying to and from Syangja, Pokhara, Baglung, Gulmi, Arghakhanchi and various other destinations have been stranded. Situation is as alarming in the cities of Tarai plains. The first rainfall at Birgunj flooded main city areas. In Nepalgunj, dozens of houses, including as many as 45 shops, have been inundated. Four people have lost their lives in Banke and three in Rolpa districts.
From Kathmandu, Meteorological Forecasting Division (MFD) has warned of floods to people living near Kankai, Kamala, Bagmati, Narayani, Pashchim Rapti, Babai, Karnali and Mahakali rivers. Our past experience has shown that monsoon-induced disasters have caused more deaths and destructions mainly due to our inability to keep early warning, preparedness and rescue system up and running than disasters per se. Either early warning fails to reach all flood and landslide prone areas or it reaches there too late to do anything for safety. Alarmingly, our rescue teams reach the disaster sites often when enough damages have already been done and the lives lost. These shortcomings should not repeat this time around. Since we have local governments in place across the country they should be mobilized in making people aware about flood risks and/ or relocate them to safer areas from flood and landslide prone sites soon after sensing the dangers. Representatives at local governments must be ready for rescue operations so as to minimize the damages. Post-disaster, officials often come up with excuses to hide their lackluster performance. It must not be so this time around. Monsoon rains have already sent ominous signals. It would be suicidal to ignore them.