Bihar CM Nitish Kumar calls meeting after Nepal obstructs embarkment repairs
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has called a high-level meeting on Tuesday with officials of the water resources department after Nepal refused to allow the state to carry out flood prevention work, news agency ANI reported.
Sanjay Jha, the state’s water resources minister, had said on Monday that the neighbouring country had been obstructing the flood prevention measures taken up by the Bihar government.
Jha had said Nepal is not allowing the state to complete the remaining flood protection work on the Gandak barrage and the embankment along Lal Bakeya river, which originates from the neighbouring country and cuts through parts of north Bihar.
Rivers flowing from Nepal into downstream Bihar have been a bane for the state during the monsoon season. Last year and also in 2008, the Kosi River breached its embankment in Nepal and caused a flood in Bihar.
Bihar carries out repairs of embankments on such rivers in Nepal every year but this year, Nepalese authorities have refused to allow flood prevention work.
Jha on Monday wrote to the minister for external affairs minister S Jaishankar and Jal Shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat to intervene at their level and talk with the Nepalese counterparts to resolve the issue.
“The work on the Gandak barrage is crucial. It has 18 gates on the Indian side and 18 on the Nepal side. For decades, Bihar’s water resources department has been carrying out restoration work on both sides. There has never been an issue. But this time, Nepal has put up barriers to prevent anti-erosion work on their side,” Jha said.
The minister said on the right side embankment on the Lal Bakeya river, work has been stopped for about 500 metres connecting India with Nepal.
“Nepalese authorities are claiming it to be no man’s land, while there has never been any issue here in the last 30 years,” he said.
In April, the Nepal government had given its nod to the Centre for carrying out anti-erosion work on its side in the midst of lockdown.
The Bihar government had taken up the matter with the Centre after there were hurdles created in carrying out routine anti-erosion work at vulnerable points on the Kosi river before the monsoon.
India’s ties with Nepal have, of late, turned for the worse after the Himalayan neighbour staked a claim on Indian territories of Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura in Uttarakhand.
The Nepalese parliament passed a constitutional amendment earlier in June to show the disputed areas as part of Nepal.
Before that, an Indian was killed by Nepalese border guards in Sitamarhi, a first such incident in the area.