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Rising Koshi threatens to flood eastern Nepal

world Updated: Jul 02, 2011 01:19 IST
Utpal Parashar
Utpal Parashar
Hindustan Times
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With water level in the Koshi River crossing the danger level on Friday morning, threat of a repeat of the 2008 floods that caused havoc in eastern Nepal and Bihar looms large.

Water level was recorded at 151,700 cusec at 6:15 am, higher than the danger level of 150,000, leading officials at the Koshi barrage control room to switch on the red light and raise red flag indicating danger.

Twenty of the 55 sluice gates of the barrage have been opened to allow flow of water. Incessant rains in the eastern parts of Nepal have led to rise in Koshi’s water level early this monsoon.

Water level on the river had reached 167,000 cusec in August 18, 2008 leading to breaking of embankments and heavy flooding in many villages of eastern Nepal and neighbouring Bihar in India.

With water level continuously rising, experts say that the water could breach newly constructed embankment causing repeat of the devastation witnessed three years ago.

Although the Kosi Barrage was capable of withstanding 900,000 cusecs of water when constructed five decades back, erosion of its eastern embankments over the years has weakened it considerably.

The 2008 floods was an indicator that damage could take place even when the water level was much lower. The highest water level was recorded in 1954 when it had reached 850,000 cusec.

On Thursday, a high-level team headed by home secretary Lilamani Poudel inspected the Kosi Barrage and directed local officials to coordinate with Indian officials and initiate control measures at the earliest.

“The local administration will hold a meeting with Indian authorities on Saturday. If the process is not started immediately, we will hold a government-level meeting with India very soon,” local media quoted Poudel.

Flashfloods and landslips caused by heavy rainfall have damaged several roads and obstructed regular movement of vehicles on many important highways like East-West and Prithvi.