2008 Bihar floods caused by faulty construction: Nepali ex-minister

November 22nd, 2011 - 12:06 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 21 (IANS) The 2008 floods in Bihar were not due to an increase in the volume of water in the Kosi river but faulty construction by corrupt contractors in the state, a former Nepali minister said Monday.

“It was not a flood at all. The river was 40 percent lower in volume than the average for the month,” said Dipak Gyawali, a former minister of water resources and now research director of the Nepal Water Conservation Foundation.

“When the river is 40 percent lower in volume, it does not breach because of the water. It breaks out because of the way it has been done - just sand. And this will break again. We have seen the constructions there. It was all sand. Sand embankments by corrupt Bihari contractors,” he said.

“It was just ordinary garden variety Bihari contractor corruption,” Gyawali said, delivering a talk on “Water issues between India and Nepal” at think-tank Observer Research Foundation (ORF) here, according to an ORF release.

He said they were expecting breaches this year too. “But luckily it did not happen though the volume of water was high,” he said.

Gyawali said breaches of similar magnitude had happened more than eight times in Nepal, but nobody ever talked about them in India.

Describing reports about the Bihar floods as “uncomfortable knowledge”, he said it has to be addressed to improve India’s relations with Nepal, which he said, was in a bigger mess politically and water resource wise.

Stressing the need for revisiting treaties like Mahakali project, he said these projects are “incorrect water resources development”.

Though, according to the treaty signed in 1996, the detailed project report was to be completed in six months, it is yet to be completed even after 14 years, Gyawali said.

The project was scheduled to be ready in eight years, producing 6,000 MW power, according to the treaty.

Gyawali suggested that instead of big projects, India and Nepal should focus more on small projects, considering the interests of all the stake holders.

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