Local governments slam ‘unilateral’ Koshi Project works by India in Sunsari
Koshi river started making rapid erosion at the embankment of Thakurbari of Barahakshetra Municipality of Sunsari district. Soon after the erosion, Indian Government official with the responsibilities to carry out maintenance works started filling nylon crates and cemented porcupines to prevent further erosion.
Three Nepali contractors were tasked to speed up this work. A Nepali contractor Bijaya Kumar Mandal said the embankment works would go until mid-October. ”If erosion goes unabated, this timeframe can go longer,” informed Mandal. As the works goes in full swing at Barahakshetra Municipality area, the local government is not consulted. ”We see a lot of Koshi works but we are not consulted on these important tasks”, said Nilam Khanal, the mayor of Basrahakshetra Municipality.
He added, ”As the democratically elected people’s representatives from here and we are asked by locals about Koshi erosion and its embankment works. We are to answer them. But, Indian side, which has executive roles in Koshi Project based on 25 April 1954 agreement, doesn’t consult us.” Khanal said information on the project is also not shared to the local government.
”We are requesting state and federal government to include local bodies in the Koshi Project works”, said Khanal. Khanal said haphazard erection of cemented porcupines has hampered locals. ”We have approached them multiple time but they didn’t respond positively”, informed Khanal. Santosh Limbu, the Liaison cum Land Acquisition Officer who is also a Nepali representative for the Koshi Project, also shares the sentiment of mayor Khanaal.
”Indian side thinks it is bigger neighbor and does not consult us (Nepali side) despite our role as vital stakeholder”, said Limbu. Limbu’s Biratnagar-based Liaison cum Land Acquisition office is repeatedly urging Indian side to consult Nepali side but to no avail.
Prakash Das, the Chief Engineer from Indian side did not want to talk on details. He, instead said to RSS on telephone, that river embankments were going smoothly and there were no chances of further erosion.