Koshi barrage ‘leak’ threatens millions

Manoj Shrestha

Rajbiraj, June 9:

Millions of people from both Nepal and India are threatened by the possible leak in the Koshi barrage this monsoon. According to hydrologists, an agreement between Nepal and India on April 16, 1954 AD was made to run the Koshi Irrigation Project and the land was put on lease for 193 years. The Koshi barrage was constructed but it seems that the barrage is no longer in a good condition. In 1955, experts had also surmised that it would not last longer than 50 years.

Dinesh Kumar Mishra, hydrologist and coordinator of Flood Free Campaign of Bihar, said the barrage had never been repaired once and there is a high probability of the monsoon sweeping it away this year. He said the major reasons for the weak barrage was accumulation of sand and rising water level in the river. He said, "If the barrage breaks, more than a million people would be displaced."

Mishra added the bund has been damaged six times both in the Nepal and Indian sides and added that the Indian government should provide security for Nepalese and Indians.According to Mishra, the agreement to repair the barrage from time to time has not been met and also that the agreement to provide health, transportation, drinking water, electricity and irrigation services and employment to the people of the Koshi area has not been met. Moreover, an executive of the Koshi Development Project said that the Indian government was indifferent towards the agreements.

Shivananda Bhai, a prominent leader of Bihar, said that the Indian government has not provided any services to the Koshi victims and added that despite the dangerous situation of the barrage, no repair had been carried out. Similarly, Dev Narayan Yadav, chairman of Koshi Victims Nepal, said that the governments of both countries should act wisely and be sensitive in this regard. He accused both governments of being indifferent. Yadav said the river had eroded 16,000 bighas of land and had endangered the life of around five thousand people. He accused the Nepali government of not providing the 40 per cent compensation provided by the Indian government to the people whose land had been eroded by the river.