After 24 years, Mahakali irrigation project still doubtful

BHIMDATTANAGAR: The Nepal-India Integrated Treaty on Mahakali River, which was signed 24 years ago by the then Prime Minister of Nepal Sher Bahadur Deuba and his Indian counterpart PV Narsimha Rao, has still to see proper implementation.

The treaty was signed on February 12, 1996 (Magh 29, 2052 BS).

Important projects, such as Mahakali Irrigation Project, had been planned long ago, based on the treaty. However, the Mahakali irrigation third phase canal construction works are currently at a halt.

According to Clause 2 (2) of the treaty, India has the responsibility of constructing the head regulator and the canal about 1,200 metres long from Tanakpur dam up to Nepal's border to release water that Nepal is entitled to get from the dam.

Under Nepal's responsibility, it had constructed 13 kilometres of main canal in fiscal year 2007/08 while an additional 15 kilometres of it is still under construction.

Director of Mahakali Irrigation Project (third phase), Prachanda Dev Bishta said, they have forwarded works on construction of canal for providing irrigation facility on Nepal side in areas close to the Tanakpur barrage.

As per the agreement, Nepal is entitled to get 1,000 Cusecs water from Tanakpur and the Project has the target of irrigating 33,000 hectares of land up to Malakheti of Kailali.

However, the Indian side is not ready to give irrigation water to Mahakali Municipality (Dodhara Chandani) as per the terms of the treaty.

"It is the unofficial view of the Indian side that they would give water to Dodhara Chandani only after the construction of Pancheshwar Hydroelectricity Project. It is almost eight years since Nepal submitted the detailed project report of Pancheshwar to India. Still, India has not done anything in that regard," Bishta added.

A secretary level meeting of both countries including water resource experts had decided to settle the topic of giving water to Nepal from Sharada canal through consensus within six months. This deadline has been over around nine months ago.

Former minister and District Development Committee president, Rishi Raj Lumsali, expresses doubt that India will give water to Nepal from Mahakali.