Inundation risk averted

DAMAK: A team of technicians arrived here from Kathmandu today cleared the outlet of the blocked Sunduwa River in Ilam's Banjho-2, averting a possible flood downstream.

According to Jhapa CDO Narendra Dahal, the team was able to clear way for the water held by an artificial dam caused by a mudslide at 2 pm yesterday. "The river no more poses a threat," he added.

A team of experts comprising Hirananda Jha and Kamal Dev Subedi of Department of Water Induced Disaster Prevention, and geologist Bashistharaj Adhikari were flown here to mitigate the disaster. The dam was breached after they suggested that it would be safe to let the water flow.

A total of 40,000 cubic metres of water had accumulated in the river due to the blockade, technicians said. Had the dam burst, it could have inundated the refugee camp, parts of Damak Municipality, and Banjho and Chulachuli VDCs as well.

Last night, the swollen Ratuwa River also posed a threat to Bhutanese refugee Camp I in Jhapa.Armed Police Force personnel, accompanied by the refugees, kept an eye on the river. The flood in the river also worried residents of Wards No 18 and 19 of Damak Municipality.

The local residents would whistle out in case the river posed an immediate threat to them. People of Ghumaunetole, Bharale, Setumari and Jahada areas were on high alert.

"We had decided that we would wake up the locals if the river started destruction in the settlements," said Netra Bhandari, a local.

Jhapa administration had hinted at the possibility of the river breaching the artificial dam as it was formed by a mass of soil and sand that had slipped due to a heavy rain. Officials had warned the surrounding settlements about the danger using loudspeakers.

An all-party meeting held last night urged locals of Damak, Chulachuli, Banjho and Beldangi to stay alert. "Urged to be alert, we could not sleep the entire night," Man Kumar Khadka, a refugee, said.