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Politicians in Nepal blame India for floods

The NCP raised the issue in parliament, saying the dams built by India in the bordering areas had caused the large-scale inundation.

india Updated: Aug 29, 2006 16:51 IST

The upbeat mood in India-Nepal ties was too good to last. Nepali politicians have once again begun blaming India for their ills, this time for the devastating floods that have killed at least 27 people and rendered thousands homeless.

Ram Baran Yadav, an MP from Koirala's own Nepali Congress party, raised the issue in parliament Monday, saying the dams built by India in the bordering areas had caused the large-scale inundation.

Hari Acharya, MP from People's Front Nepal, one of the seven parties in the government, told the house the Laxmanpur barrage on the Rapti river built by India "in contravention of international norms" had contributed to the deluge and urged the foreign ministry to take up the issue with New Delhi.

Nepal's largest circulated daily Kantipur Tuesday reported that Nepal had sent a delegation to India on Monday to ask the government to open the gate of the Laxmanpur barrage and release the accumulated water and discuss the inundation issue.

Nepal's Minister for Physical Planning and Works Gopal Man Shrestha said his ministry was coordinating with the Indian side to assess the impact of the barrage.

Shrestha also told the house that rescue work was being done in tandem with Indian authorities who had been providing assistance.

About 350 people living near the Indian border had been shifted to India for safety, the minister said.

The sharing of water resources has been a serious bone of contention between the two neighbours with Nepal often accusing India of unilateral construction and reneging on its commitment to provide water for irrigation.

Several hydropower projects discussed by the two sides have also remained stalled due to continued bickering.

As perverse weather afflicted Nepal for the second year in a row, the fertile plains in the east, known as the food bowls of Nepal, have reeled under drought while incessant downpours since last week have lashed five districts in the west causing two major rivers to flood and trigger landslides.

Accham, Banke, Bardiya, Doti and Baitadi districts are the worst affected with at least 12 deaths reported from Accham alone.

The swollen Rapti and Babi rivers have played havoc in the region, inundating thousands of houses, destroying property worth millions and displacing over 10,000 people.

Army helicopters and rubber dingies conveyed scores of stranded villagers to safety and security personnel, along with Red Cross staff as well as Maoist guerrillas were spearheading the rescue drive.

By Monday, 27 bodies had been found while hundreds of people still remained out of contract, raising fears the toll could go up substantially.