June 24, 2020 1:28:53 am
The Bihar government has raised concerns over Nepal stalling repair work on the Gandak barrage as well as a key embankment on the Lalbakeya river.
The state has taken up the matter with the External Affairs and Jalshakti ministries.
As per a long-standing arrangement, the Bihar government maintains the Gandak barrage afflux on both sides of the border. India and Nepal share 18 gates each of the barrage.
Even though most of repair work has been done as per specifications of flood-fighting measures, Bihar Water Resources Department officials have to monitor the afflux for any possible breach in embankment during the flood seasons in June and October.
Water Resources Minister Sanjay Kumar Jha told The Indian Express, “We firmly believe the matter would be resolved amicably as it is a local issue. For last 10 days or so, our employees have not been allowed to monitor the western Gandak afflux. At times, they would ask for Covid-negative certificates. We understand there had been caution because of coronavirus on both sides, but our employees have to repair and do maintenance (of the barrage) in flood season.”
The minister said that another point of concern is Nepal not allowing India to complete repair work on a 500-metre patch of embankment on Lalbakeya river on the Nepal side. “Nepal had allowed us to do repair and maintenance work, but work on a crucial 500-metre final phase is not being allowed. Our main concern is to avoid any flood situation because of any possible breach. Such issues have been resolved at local levels in the past.”
Jha, however, appreciated Nepal government for co-operating with most flood-fighting works on western Gandak afflux during the lockdown.
Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition Tejashwi Prasad Yadav criticised the Bihar government for not taking serious action. “As monsoon is set to arrive, people living along Kosi and Gandak are concerned. They suffer loss of cattle and property every year and also face displacement. But the state government has hardly done anything in last 15 years,” he tweeted.
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