Lowlands in the mountains prone to unusual flood without rainfall


POKHARA and MYAGDI, July 27: Last Wednesday, flooding in the Lachthawang and Dhurma rivers invited chaos in Gurja. Although, the rivers flowing from Gurja mountain of Dhaulagiri Rural Municipality saw unusual flooding, the disaster hardly caused any destruction in the area as the locals had made early preparations for the disaster and were expecting it.

A flash flood triggered by the Dordi River in Lamjung the same day claimed five lives while some people are still missing. It was estimated that the flood came after the flow of water from a pond named Meme Pokhari was blocked which flowed through one of the upper villages, Tanjegau located at Dhodeni of Dordi Rural Municipality. 

However, the local administration claimed that heavy rainfall caused the sudden flooding in the area.  

Chief District Officer of Lamjung, Dijan Bhattarai stated that the reason behind the sudden flood is being assessed. “We previously estimated the flood to have occurred due to the river flow blockage. However, this is not the case. The river flow should have reduced if it was blocked,” said Bhattarai.   

The area had seen flood and landslide without rainfall last year which meant the two suspension bridges over the Kali Gandaki River in Gurja village linking Myagdi and Parbat were at risk. As communities living near by the river are highly prone to unanticipated floods, the local government had also issued a notice in order to make them aware against disasters. 

Despite light rainfall in the lower areas, unanticipated floods have increased the risks in the area. Chairperson of the rural municipality, Jhak Bahadur Chhantyal anticipated that the flood could have happened due to heavy rainfall leading to the melting of snow in the Himalayan region. 
“The flood this time was huge. Despite low rainfall in the upper regions, the unusual flood has increased fear and chaos among the locals,” said Chhantyal.

People in the area were instantly cautious after some locals saw the emerging flood waves streaming downwards. In other cases, the flood can be a little tricky. “Even if it does not rain in the lower areas, rainfall in the upper regions increases the risks of floods and landslides. In either situation, the locals have to go through tough times,” said Liladhar Adhikari, Myagdi Chief District Officer.

The destruction this time was averted due to early information disseminated by the locals who saw the waves emerging downwards. 

“This could hardly be the situation every time which poses possible risks in the coming days. Therefore, installation of information device is important in the upper regions,” said Adhikari. 
Geologists fear that the hills weakened by the devastating earthquake of 2015 could worsen the risks of landslide eventually leading to the river blockage in the area. According to geologist Shri Kamal Dwivedi, the snow melting due to global warming has contributed to unusual occurrences of natural calamities. 

“Since heavy rainfall in Himalayan regions is inviting uncalled-for calamities, a mechanism to pre-inform the people living in the lowlands should be developed at the earliest,” said Dwivedi. 

He further said that an avalanche in the Himalayan regions could possibly have contributed to the flooding in the lower regions. “Since the upper region has not witnessed heavy rainfall and considering the fact that there is no snow lake, it suggests that an avalanche in the mountains could be behind the unanticipated flood,” added Dwivedi.

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