KATHMANDU: Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport, and Urban Development Chhabi Raj Pant assured that a Nepal-India joint study team would be formed to find out the reasons behind the devastating floods in Mahakali River.
Speaking at an interaction organised in the Reporters’ Club on Saturday, Minister Pant informed that the government it taking initiative to constitute a team through diplomatic channel.
Locals of Darchula district and leaders of the far-western region have claimed that the destructive floods were caused due to the release of water from a hydro-electric dam in Dhauliganga River, a tributary of Mahakali River, in the Indian side. On the other hand, the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu has said that the flooding was due to the heavy rainfall in the catchment area of the river, and the Dhauliganga dam had no role in the damage in Nepali side.
“A high-level probe panel, comprising of representatives from both the countries, should be set up to find out the actual reasons behind the floods,” he said. "For that, the government has taken initiatives through diplomatic channel."
Minister Pant informed that the government is preparing to declare the flood-ravaged Darchula a crisis-ridden district. For that, legal procedures and damage caused by the floods are being assessed.”
Saying Rs 500 million allocated now is for immediate relief in Darchula, Minister Pant added that the government is ready to add up more funds if needed.
According to him, the government is ready to build up multi-year plan to resolve the crisis in Darchula, and there is no budgetary problem at all.
Commenting on the Nepali pilgrims stranded in various holy sites in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, Minister Pant said the Nepal government has taken initiative for through diplomatic channel and made efforts on its own also for their rescue.
Speaking at the same programme, UCPN-Maoist leader Lekh Raj Bhatta said massive loss was caused on the Nepali side due to the unilateral construction of concrete infrastructure on the India side and release of water from the Dhauliganga hydro-electric dam.
Leader Bhatta stressed on the need for raising the issue before India and even in international forums.
Likewise, Spokesperson of Nepali Congress Dilendra Prasad Badu maintained that the damage in Darchula owes to the unilateral construction of concrete structures on the other side of Mahakali River, release of water from Dhauliganga hydro-electricdam and landslide in Marma, and added that Nepal should take up the issue before India.
According to him, levees should be built on both the sides of the river.
Expressing his dissatisfaction over the Indian Embassy's claim that floods did not come to Mahakali from Dhauliganga, Badu opined that a high-level team of experts from both the countries should be formed to find out the reason behind the devastation.
CPN-UML leader Bhim Rawal opined that an experts' team should be immediately formed to look into the matter, and Nepal should claim compensation from India if the floods occurred due to Indian side's fault.
He dubbed the Indian claim as unilateral and irresponsible.