Butwal locals terrified by swollen Tinau

No one had ever imagined the scale of devastation caused by massive flooding in mid-western districts of Banke, Bardiya and Surkhet and also in Sindhupalchowk district of central region earlier this monsoon. 

While the country is yet to come to terms with devastation caused by floods, the swollen Tinau River, which flows through the town of Butwal in Rupandehi district, might trigger similar disaster, warn experts. 

They claim that the mighty Tinau might once again unleash disaster like it did in the past – or even worse. Over a hundred people were killed by floods of the Tinau 44 years ago. It again killed 64 locals of Dobhan of Palpa and Butwal 33 years back. The Tinau river flooding has, in fact, continued to wreak havoc several times over the last two decades, causing loss of scores of human lives and property worth billions of rupees besides displaced hundreds more. Against such a backdrop, the rising level of water in the Tinau over the recent days has terrified the locals of Butwal. 

“The swelling of the Tinau River with rain water evokes the horrors of the past,” said Rabind Gopal Laukal, a local resident of Butwal. If the Tinau could unleash so much damage even when its natural course was not affected in the past, what it could be even more devastating now that so much illegal mining of sand and boulders from its banks have been extracted over the recent years. 

“This question disturbs the local even more,” said Bimal Bahadur Shankya, former deputy chief of Butwal municipality. 

“The Tinau River needs a breadth of 237 meters to flow freely without affecting the people living on its banks. But due to rampant encroachment, the river at some places is merely 50 to 70 meters wide,” says Bharat Sapkota, an engineer with the government-funded People´s Embankment Program, Butwal. 

Currently, around 4,000 families of landless squatters live by the Tinau in Butwal.

K R Dahal, an engineer who has studied flood risks posed by the Tinau, claims that such exploitation of river banks by landless squatters and unabated mining of sand and boulders from the river areas have increased threats of disaster. 

“The locals living along the banks of the Tinau are under grave threat,” Dahal added. The Tinau, with a few rivulets flowing from Kaski as its tributaries, flows toward India via Rupandehi district, and flood triggered by annual monsoon in the river has been affecting lives of people from over two dozens of VDCs of Rupandehi, besides those living in Butwal.

Source : Republica