Development = Destruction

Photo: Bikram Rai

Naya Patrika, 17 July

Nationwide, there are problems with landslides and floods. People have been killed, made homeless, crops destroyed, fisheries and farms submerged and factories flooded. This annual calamity is related to Nepal’s topography and the nature of our rivers, which is why human settlement and construction have to follow nature’s laws. If we don’t, the people who ignored those laws will have to suffer.

Disasters also have a class aspect. The people affected are mostly poor. Tarai families affected by floods are mostly those who live in huts in high-risk areas. In the cities, it is the urban poor settled along the floodplains of rivers or those residing on the ground floor who are worst affected. People living in fragile and steep slopes are exposed to landslide risk. Villages and settlements downstream from the Chure are also disproportionately affected.

Lately, the activities of excavators and bulldozers have made already fragile slopes even more precarious. This has increased the risk for those living in villages near these roads. The construction spree in the cities has increased demand for construction materials, which are unsustainably mined from river beds, making them prone to more destructive floods. The destruction of the Chure is symbolic of the negative development model we have adopted. The country is threatened with desertification, and in the monsoon the floods are becoming more catastrophic in the Madhes.

We have to rescue our country from the corruption and crony capitalism that is driving this destruction.

Read also: Flood of recrimination, Editorial

Annapurna Post, 15 July

This year, rivers and streams in the federal capital have overflowed and flooded neighbourhoods. The constricted rivers could no longer hold the water, not because there was more rainfall than previous years but because we have narrowed the rivers. Collusion between government agencies and the land mafia has squeezed rivers until the water has nowhere to go. That is why this year marooned residents had to be rescued by rafts.

The capital’s rivers were turned into canals and we replaced the canals with roads. We have built over the floodplains of rivers. This year’s destruction was not caused by rainfall but by greed. Local governments finish their budgets building embankments, get their kickbacks, then capture the land along the river banks. These have been turned into landfill sites, where raw sewage empties into the water. In other countries, property along the river is more expensive; in Nepal it is the lowest.

We must restore the rivers’ freedom to flow naturally, even if it means demolishing illegal structures and taking action against the guilty, including government officials if necessary. If that is not done, future floods will be much worse.

Read also: Nepal Tarai learns from past floods, Sewa Bhattarai

Nagarik, 16 July

Damage from monsoon floods is increasing every year as rivers and water bodies can no longer contain the water. But we can no longer call these natural disasters – they are manmade. Rivers have been narrowed by embankments and other construction in Nepal, and across the border in India, which submerges villages on the Nepal side of the border. Every year Nepal raises this issue with its neighbour, but after the rains end everyone forgets about it.

As in previous years, Rautahat was flooded again because of an embankment in India. The problem was discussed in Parliament and MPs concluded that the cause was lack of preparedness. People on both sides of the border, Nepalis and Indians, both suffer from the poorly designed embankments that cause flooding, yet the problem has not been resolved. The two countries must get together and fix this issue before more destructive future floods hit both countries.

Read also: Monsoon 2019 deluge

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