Nature, Disasters And Neighbours
When the land surface is dry, moveable and issues are hot, we have plenty of support from our neighbourly friends. They come in large numbers, they say, and do what we want them to do – raise their voices, muscular arms and strong punches up and shout for us. It is also found in investigation, they walk all the way to a government office and help us destroy it, or that is what the media reports often times. On the contrary, when the land surface is full of rain water, the crops, houses, roads and animals submerge in water, we cry alone. Even our very own government watches this all with a weak eye; it cannot survey the damage fully, nor does it make a guess of the loss. This is unfortunate and true.
At this time of the year, the people of Tilathi and several other villages in Saptari and other plains districts such as Banke, etc. have to suffer the dark days and nights alone during the monsoon season. The ritual is fulfilled by our big bosses through their brief visit to a few sites annually either from the sky or a dry part of the neighbourhood at a distance.
A very memorable lesson was sent to such visitors this time by the flood affected people – no relief support accepted unless a permanent plan is on the table with reliable words of fast implementation. The people have genuine demands, yet the government carries thick ears and they are thickening further by the years. It is also unfortunate and it is true!
What is the stake in building dams in our own territory to prevent the annual damages caused by the uncontrolled flood? Our neighbour has done it, and it continues to extend on annual basis. Watch it in the far west and go to the east, you have it in progress. There are even factual reports (misunderstood as 'allegation' ) that at many places such constructions are carried out right on the border lines called the 'dasgaja' or, ten- yard stretch of the international border where no nation can have physical construction unilaterally, but this can happen on the Nepal-India border. The flood can and should be managed through bilateral talks and actions as it affects life on both sides.
Since the flood originates in Nepal, Nepal government must make the move for bilateral solution that works and sustains. And this has to be done boldly, justly and with strong sense of security for the people. Because there is some lacking here, we see a large population in distress on regular basis. Actually we are not talking about turning the oceans over, or cutting huge mountains for tunnel; we are talking gradual construction of dams along the rivers just as we did diversion roads along the rivers and streams in Kathmandu.
Just the other day, one senior journalist, Ram Ashis Yadav was on air speaking for Image FM. He was explaining in detail about the source of such floods and how the whole Terai could be a desert where people would have to raise camel as the only source of livelihood. This is the very precarious situation that is being developed along the Chure Hills and the plains below, he argued. Yadav was describing how there have existed Chure stakeholders from the time of former President Dr Ram Baran Yadav to the present and much was a noise with huge budget. Yet much less has been accomplished. But recently one integrated campaign completed tree saplings plantation in several bighas of land with the support of the Nepal Army based in Dhanusha.
Nearly 16 thousand saplings were planted in Chure hills this week under the banner that said – Go Green!! This campaign, according to Yadav, needs wider support and much wider sense of what will happen if Chure is lost in the process of way too much exploitation for someone's progress. While driving along the Naulapur Chowk in Sarlahi the other week, a Madhesi friend explained how Chure is supplying nearly all the basic materials to the other side of the border to help construction high barrages and roads along the border that stop the natural course of rain water from the north. This water in Siraha-Saptari shows its wrath on the Nepal side. If Chure is saved from further destruction, as the first President of Nepal wished and created a high power committee to look into the burning issues of Chure, things will begin to improve.
This scribe would not desire to meddle into the bilateral/bi-national issues related to this problem. The perils in Chure or Tilathi are technical and environmental issues. They also create the border security issues. What is important to note is: the dams and roads along the dusgaja area whether on Nepal side or the other are not the solution, they rather aggravate the problem.
The main question of the season is: why don’t we feel such disasters come every year, they stay for the same duration, display their might more or less at the same level and subside when time comes?. Why are we are so ill-prepared for them? Most interestingly, there are numerous NGOs in this field and they say they are here to work in the field of disaster. But during the flood or fire, they are not visible. In all, structure wise we are okay but when the moment hits the ground, everything shatters and does not function as effectively as required.
Finally, dams along the Nepal-India border are the need of the day. This does not mean they should create obstruction for the natural flow of the water. Tree plantation and imposing a ban on sand and gravel quarrying and deforestation due to new settlement in Chure area is equally important. Human hands are responsible for the disasters that hit life mostly in the summer. At this time in history, the glorious and graceful days of Chure are counted. The trend of migration, exploitation of resources and negligence of the appointed authorities must be reversed sooner than later. If necessary and timely measure is taken to stop the disaster, there is no reason to point the finger towards our good neighbours.