Risk of another Koshi outburst

ITAHARI: Saptakoshi embankment in Sunsari district is facing the risk of collapse due to incessant rainfall in the past few days. Water-level has been rising in the river, much before the completion of repairs on the breached embankment, pushing it to the brink of another collapse. Sunsari CDO Hari Krishna Upadhyay said the embankment could burst again. He said the river had been eroding the embankment at Rajabasghat in Prakashpur VDC and there was a risk of breach of spur, too. "Attempts are underway to control the river by deploying technicians and workers in Rajabasghat," he said. "As the embankment erosion is rapid, ordinary measures to tame the river will be insufficient to prevent a breach," added the CDO. If the embankment in Rajabasghat collapses, it can cause a loss of life and property on a scale greater than last year, submerging Inaruwa, the headquarters of Sunsari. Rajabasghat locals have demanded that the government tame the river early to prevent a disaster. Rabin Ghimire, a Prakashpur local, said a breach in the embankment was imminent. "Though high-ranking officials have visited the site, no concrete measure has been adopted to control embankment erosion," he said. Mohan Bhattarai, engineer at Biratnagar-based Water-Induced Disaster Control Office, said, "As there is a rapid erosion of the embankment, it could collapse anytime." Not only Rajabasghat, but the sites where repair after last year's damage is on, face risk. Three coffer dams constructed to divert the flow of the water west are also at the risk of collapse. The flow of water measured 60,000 cusec in the coffer dam areas on Saturday. "If the coffer dams collapse, there is no alternative but to hold the water on track," Bhattarai said. Only three of the five planned spurs have been constructed so far. "If the construction of the remaining two spurs is not completed within a few days and should the coffer dams collapse, the river will wreak havoc as was seen last year," he said.