India, Nepal need to work in tandem: Top official

Kathmandu, August 20:

The havoc caused by the floods in India and Nepal can be minimised if the governments of the two countries took increased interest to control floods, Madhu Sudan Poudel, Director General of Irrigation Department, told this daily.

“We do not pay attention to Koshi problems because we think it’s primarily the duty of Bihar government,” he added.

Almost half-a-century-old Koshi barrage has 56 water chambers, each 20 feet high. The current level of water is nothing for Koshi barrage, according to Poudel. “Only when there is 3,00,000 cusecs of water, does it become alarming. The water is only half that amount,” he said, adding that accumulation of silt in the Koshi River may have aggravated the problem.

Koshi barrage, which irrigates 68,000 hectares of land on Nepali side, can withstand 8,00,000 cusecs of water, according to Poudel.

SE Mathura Dangol at the Ministry of Water Resources says the Indian authorities never open water chambers fully, as it can cause land erosion on Indian side.

According to him, Indian authorities open water chambers only on the western part of the barrage because it releases water into Nepali territory.

“The Bihar government told us that the gates were opened to ensure free flow of water, as per the technical manual for the management of the barrage,” Indian Embassy spokesperson Gopal Baglay said.

A four-member team led by RC Sinha, the Chief Engineer of the Koshi barrage, will reach Biratnagar today to meet the Nepali team to contain and eventually close the breach. Nepal has agreed to provide proper security to the team and assured it full cooperation.

Indian officials say the flooding is due to breach in the embankments.

According to the agreement, the Bihar government looks after "maintenance of the barrage and all its connected works mentioned under the project."