Nepal | April 07, 2020

Fear of floods, landslides looms as monsoon approaches

Jagdishor Panday

Kathmandu, June 5

With monsoon just around the corner, there are fears that people, like in the past, might again have to cope with floods and landslides.

Although the government claims, as it always does, that it is well prepared to mitigate the risks, records over the past seven years do not paint an optimistic picture.

Over the past seven years, a total of 665 people have lost their lives, while property worth hundreds of millions of rupees has been lost due to floods and landslides. In the fiscal 2017-18 alone, 169 people lost their lives, 38 went missing and 36 sustained injuries, whereas property losses amounted toRs 25 million across the country, according to National Emergency Operation Centre.

According to the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, this year’s monsoon will begin in the second week of June and will run through September-end.

Director General at Department of Hydrology and Meteorology Rishi Ram Sharma claimed that the government had been able to reduce deaths resulting from floods and inundations every year.

However, the NEOC data show the number of deaths increased to 169 in the fiscal 2017-18 from 101 in the fiscal 2016-17.

Some of the dangerous rivers that cause severe floods and inundations include Kankai, Koshi, Kamala, East Rapti, Narayani, West Rapti, Babai, Karnali and Mahakali. Similarly, glacial lakes such as Imja and Chho Rolpa also pose equal danger.

“Preparations are under way to mitigate risks. We are aiming to gradually decrease the number of the deaths every year,” said Sharma.

The government has put in place an early warning system since 2008. This system provides message of dangers through different channels such as radio stations and mobile phones.

“If people have mobile phones with them, they get the message,” said Sharma, adding that even security agencies such as the Nepali Army, Armed Police Force and Nepal Police get the messages.

Disaster risk management expert Krishna Devkota said the Ministry of Home Affairs should take the lead and mobilise stakeholders.

“We can expect average rainfall this monsoon as per the DHM forecast. But there will floods, no doubt. So we need to prepare for that,” he said.

Sharma said the department is planning to come up with more information about early warning system. “We are going to focus on other small rives in the hilly region too,” he added.

Flood fatalities

Year        Deaths
2074 169
2073 101
2072 0
2071 129
2070 139
2069 9
2068 126

A version of this article appears in print on June 06, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.


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