Nepal landslide: flood threat eases in Bihar

Bihar officials say water dammed in Nepal by rock and debris from landslide will be released slowly following high level talks with Nepal authorities; river experts sceptical

 
By Alok Gupta
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

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Bihar government on Monday evening announced that the flood threat in the Kosi region following the landslide in Nepal has eased because of the high-level of co-operation between Nepal and Indian authorities.

Vyas Ji, principal secretary of state disaster management department, said that the Nepal government has decided to release the flood water of Saptkosi slowly. “This has eased impending flood threat in Darbhanga, Madhubani, Khagaria districts,” he said.

Districts still on high alert

However, flood threat looms large over Supaul, Purnia and Madhubani. Highly placed sources said intense diplomatic talks resulted in collaborative flood mitigation plan. Rumors were rife that Nepal won’t release the water but use it for producing hydro-electricity. There are three hydro power plant in the flood region at Sindhupalchowk district of Nepal.

The rumor that the flood water in the artificial reservoir created by landslide would not be released created panic in the Bihar government circles. Senior officials said that in such a situation, the pressure on the mud dam formed by the landslide in the river's path would be so high that it would collapse, leading torrent of water flooding Bihar's Kosi region.

A senior official of the state government sought intervention of the Union government to resolve the issue. “Nepal government informed in the evening that flood water will be released slowly instead of completely stopping it,” Vyas Ji said. Nepal will conduct four controlled blasts of low intensity to flush out flood water from Sindhupalchowk.

The Indian Air Force has, meanwhile, recalled four helicopters that was stationed in Purnia for emergency services in case of floods.

Nepal government has also informed that they are mulling over a plan to  drill holes in the landslide area, instead of controlled blasts. This was because the blasts might blow away a large area of rock and debris, leading to floods in Bihar.

The impending flood threat comes after a major landslide on Sunkosi river in Sindhupalchowk blocked the river on Saturday morning. Around 2.5 million cusecs of water which is dammed will inundate the seven districts in Bihar if all the water is released at one go.

Meanwhile, river experts are still sceptical about the government claims of probable aversion of flood threat. They feel that 72 hours after the landslide, there might be possibility of rock and debris dam formed by landslide giving way under high water pressure.

“The situation is still explosive. The strength of landslide barrier blocking the river will decide flood situation in Bihar,” Dinesh Mishra, a river expert said.


 

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