KATHMANDU, June 1: With the monsoon now just around the corner, concerns have been raised that the second phase of local elections rescheduled for June 28 might be marred by rainfalls and water-induced disasters.
Monsoon rain in Nepal originates from the Bay of Bengal and enters the country from the eastern side usually around June 10. This year, the Meteorological Forecasting Division (MFD) is expects the monsoon to arrive on time. In the worst case scenario, even if the monsoon gets delayed by a week, the second phase of the elections will be held only after the onset of the monsoon.
As the Election Commission (EC) prepares to hold the polls in 461 local units of 41 districts-mostly in tarai and some hilly districts, concerns have been raised that rainfalls may dampen the election spirit, preventing people from voting in case of heavy rainfall on the Election Day.
“As the election day is still 27 days away, we cannot predict now that it will rain in particular places on that exact day. But generally speaking, yes, it is likely to rain during the monsoon,” said MFD's senior meteorologist Raju Pradhananga. MFD, a division under the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, has the capacity to forecast weather only three days in advance.
A seasonal outlook report of South Asian Climate Outlook Forum (SASCOF-10) has reported that 'normal rainfall is most likely during the 2017 southwest monsoon season (June-September) over much of South Asia. After expert assessment of the prevailing global climate conditions and forecasts, the report illustrated that while some portion of far and mid-western regions will receive below normal rainfall, the remaining other regions will receive normal rainfalls.
The elections will be held in remote districts such as Darchula, Bajhang, Bajura, Khotang, Taplejung and Bhojpur among others. All the hilly districts of far-western and eastern Nepal will go to vote in the elections. Many villages in those districts do not have road access. In some cases, voters have to walk for days to reach the voting centers.
And if it rains heavily, voters need to walk through slippery paths on the edge of dangerous cliffs to reach the voting stations, not to mention the risks from looming water-induced disasters like landslides and floods. It would be even more challenging for the old and ailing to reach the polling centers to exercise their voting rights.
“However, as the weather system is very dynamic, our expectations of timely and good rainfalls might not come true. Weather reports speak only tentative figures. So, we have to wait and see whether or not rainfalls might hinder the election,” reminded meteorologist Pradhananga.
As villages in many districts are dependent on agriculture, the farmers will be busy in their fields with the onset of the monsoon. The next day after the elections is June 29, better known as 'Ashar 15' in Nepali. As the day marks the 'National Paddy Day', farmers may opt to be busy in agriculture instead of dedicating some time to cast their votes.
In the history of Nepal, not even a single election has been held during monsoon.