Over half a dozen villages in Saptari district get submerged every monsoon since the last five years, rendering thousands of people homeless and destroying their crops. The problem began after India built a dam to control the flow of water in a way that suits India. The villages including Tilathi, Launiya, Sakrpura, Rampura, Malhniya, Koiladi and Lalapatti gets flooded every rainy season as the course of the Kando and Jita Rivers that flow through Tilathi VDC of Saptari to the Indian territory was diverted.
“The root cause of the problem is the state’s indifference toward the Indian control over our rivers,” said Dineshwor Mishra, former president of Tilathi VDC. “The dam built by India can block the flow of the rivers and cause water to accumulate on the Nepalese territory. But our government is not bothered about the problem.”
The blockage of the rivers has already damaged Khadobridge along Rajbiraj-Kunauli road section. Similarly, three kilometers of road section which links Tilathi to the Indian border is also damaged. Since the last five years, no heavy vehicles ply the road, making the lief harder for the locals.
“All the government does is give assurances,” remarked Mishra. “In monsoon, thousands of homes get washed away by flooding, turning those living near the river homeless. Even their farms and crops get swept away.”
Saptari is considered most sensitive flooding zone in the country. However, the state has not taken any special measures to ease the problems locals face each year, according to DevnarayanYadav, founder of Koshi Flood Victims Society. “The state has not devised any specific program or allocated sufficient budget to solve the problem,” he said.
Beside flooding, lack of proper irrigation facilities has marred the economy of this agricultural region. Even though the Chandra Canal has the capacity to irrigate 10,500 hectors of land, it is rarely operational. In addition, the canal has been encroached upon at several places. According to District Agricultural Office, production of rice in the district has gone down by 30 percent due the lack of irrigation system.
“But this time we are a little hopeful as the irrigation minister is from Saptari,” said Ganu Mukhiya, former president of Sakarpura VDC. “He himself is from the most flood-affected area. So, let’s see, if he does anything to solve the problems here,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Minister Umesh KumarYadav told Republica that he is very much concerned about the issue. “I’m quite aware of this. I am committed to give my hundred percent to solve the problem,” he said.