India-Nepal flood plans collaboration

A two-day meeting of the India-Nepal Joint Committee on Water Resources (JCWR) in New Dehli in October resulted in the constitution of a joint technical group to prepare a strategy for flood control. The Comprehensive Master Plan on Flood Forecasting and Warning is intended to alleviate suffering caused to millions in both countries.

Delegates acknowledged that the recent opening of the Joint Project Office in Nepal for field investigations on the Sapt Kosi high dam and Sun Kosi storage-cum-diversion projects would help create better flood control.

The proposed Kosi river basin project would include a gigantic dam at Chatara in Nepal from which an estimated 300,000ha in central and eastern regions of the country could be irrigated. India stands to gain up to 5000MW of electricity for power-starved Bihar. For landlocked Nepal, the project would also offer a 165km waterway connecting Chatara with the port of Kolkata in West Bengal.

Environmentalists in Nepal object on the grounds that the Chatara region is quake-prone and claim that a huge dam would invite environmental disaster. There is pressure for a dam further up stream in Okhaldunga district.

Further accord was reached by government representatives at the JCWR meeting for reservoir schemes for the Kamala and Bagmati rivers. Reforestation and conservation measures in Shivalik Hills in Nepal would also be useful in flood control, they said.

Progress was made on the 5600MW Pancheshwar multipurpose project, the Burhi Gandaki project and the Upper Karnali hydropower project in Nepal.

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