India halts embankment construction along Mahakali River in Darchula

Published On: December 7, 2022 01:45 PM NPT By: DIL BAHADUR CHHATYAL & PREM CHUNARA

Dhangadi/Darchula, Dec 7: India has stopped the unilateral construction of an embankment along the Mahakali River in Darchula district. Earlier, India had started building the embankment without any coordination with Nepal, in violation of international law. Tension arose after the locals protested against the construction of the embankment by India and now the Indian side has stopped the construction of the embankment.

The locals protested as there is a high risk of the Darchula headquarters, Khalanga, and other settlements being washed away in case of a flood as the embankment would push the Mahakali River toward Nepal. The Chief District Officer (CDO) of Darchula, Dirgharaj Upadhyay, said that the Indian side has stopped the construction of the embankment after widespread protests. After the dispute arose following the protest by the locals, a discussion was held between the officials of the two countries including the ADM ( Assistant District Magistrate) of Pithoragarh and the CDO of Darchula at the District Administration Office, Darchula. CDO Upadhyaya said that it was agreed to stop the construction work in the disputed area for the time being. "The construction work has been stopped now. The Indian authorities have agreed to stop the embankment construction work for now," said CDO Upadhyay.

He said that the embankment will not be constructed until an agreement is reached after discussion with the local residents. Even though an embankment should be built on the Nepal side of the Mahakali River, the construction work has not started. He said that after discussions with the locals in the disputed area, an agreement will be reached and the embankment will be built on both sides of Nepal and India. He said that he has asked the Indian authorities to remove the structures built on the land from the Mahakali side towards Nepal.

CDO Upadhyay said that it was also agreed to form a mechanism including the representatives of the two countries to reach an agreement through dialogue. It is said that a consensus will be sought by forming a mechanism consisting of technical, local political party and administration representatives. Despite the fact that India has said that it will immediately stop the construction of the embankment, as there has been a controversy due to local opposition and widespread criticism at the national level, no written agreement has been reached. Only a verbal agreement was reached in the discussion. CDO Upadhyay said, “We have asked not to work in the disputed area. We reached only a verbal consent. Their work is continuing in other areas.” 

The Indian side has placed 7 to 10 meters of Gabion nets in the Nepali territory beyond the embankment. After the border dispute escalated, Indian security personnel SSB (Sashastra Seema Bal) started to trouble Nepali citizens by asking for identity cards at the border, according to the locals. Locals have to go to Dharchula market in India for employment, to do daily labor and to buy consumer goods. Residents of the border areas of Darchula district, who have suffered deeply from the encroachment of Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulek, are being victimized by the excesses of the Indian side.


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