Govt apathy toward flood control

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"Are we going to get relief like this for years? Can't the government go for permanent solution to the flooding problem in tarai?" asked a 12-year-old flood victim. And her parent added, "A temporary relief is for today and the next day, it is no way going be a compensation for the lives and property lost." This is not an individual question but a collective one by the people living at the banks of Koshi River, waiting for an answer for years.  

Flood at and the near the banks of Kankai, Koshi, Bagmati, Narayani, and Karnali is taking dozens of lives every year and this year is not going to be an exception. With no pre-flood preparedness, like every year, flood victims are going to face the same and even worse situation this year.

And the evidences of initial flooding are all over the social media, where there are diverse views on temporary nature of flooding solution. Many have raised questions on the effectiveness of the relief and solutions forwarded by the government in dealing with the flooding problem. But is relief in the form of food, grains, blankets, clothes, temporary housing the best solution that should be practiced, as the government of Nepal has been doing for years or can there be a better option to save people from the flooding?

"It is well known that millions of rupees are invested to save the people and their property during the flood, and aftermath to rescue the flood victims. But is this a right solution?" asked an old man in the flood-prone area. This question has been a hot topic for discussion. While some opine that, relief can be an option for providing an instant solution, the majority believes that Nepal needs a permanent solution to the problem. And the solution could be construction of dams and water reservoirs, which are the best instruments for flood control. But the question here is why has the government of Nepal not worked on permanent solution, and is perpetuating temporary solutions for years?

"Every natural disaster whether flooding or the earthquake, is a game of politics and money," says a young man in the group gathered for discussing the flooding solution. It's not that Nepal does not have monetary support for the flood victims and combating flooding problems but the approach government has been taking and practicing for years is not a solution at all. It's just an instant reaction to the problem and not a solution. Had government been serious in looking at the problems of flood victims, it would have worked at permanent solution and not limited its support to money and food. But the steps taken by the government at present to deal with the flooding is not satisfactory.

At present the government is busy at working on, during flood responses and as it did in the past will be working on post-flood rehabilitation and maintenance and not on the pre-flood preparedness. Pre-flood preparedness such as construction of dams and  water reservoirs, channelizing government support, establishment of legal body and registration, assessment of flood hazards, making provisions for emergency relief, making provisions for flood fighting, making provisions for flood fighting , generating financial resources, adjusting land uses, forecasting and warning and others could be of much help in finding a permanent solution to the flooding problem in Nepal.

Although several initiatives--such as indigenous local coping measures to survive the floods and inundation, relief and rehabilitation measures by the Department of Water Induced Disaster Prevention and other-- are taken by local people and the government to combat flooding problem in tarai, people there continue to face threats to their life and property every year during monsoon.

There could be a number of causes that has added to the flooding problem is tarai but it can be said that the solution for the flooding problem applied by the government of Nepal is not a permanent one. Providing relief packages and arranging shelters at schools is not a solution that flood victims are seeking.

There may be a number of reasons to why the government of Nepal is not going for the permanent solution and pre-flood preparedness. However, it is known that millions of dollars are invested every year to combat the scourge, but utilization of the fund is rarely directed toward the permanent solution.

All this raises a big question, "Is it floods or the government that is taking the lives?

(Chaudhary is a law student)

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