Rs.200 mn Indian aid for Nepal flood victims

October 16th, 2008 - 7:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Oct 16 (IANS) The Indian ambassador to Nepal Rakesh Sood Thursday handed over a cheque for Rs.200 million ($2.5 million) to Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” as the Indian government’s relief assistance to victims of the Kosi flood, that was pledged by India during Prachanda’s visit to New Delhi last month.”It represents the government of India’s commitment to work with the government of Nepal to effectively address the common problems faced by both the countries due to perennial floods,” a statement issued by the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu said.

During Prachanda’s meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the two premiers had reached an understanding on undertaking relief and rehabilitation measures for victims of the Kosi flood and reconstruction of damaged infrastructure, including the eroded embankment and segments of the East-West Highway, which is Nepal’s lifeline, connecting it with India.

The two prime ministers had also agreed to set up a three-tier mechanism for consultation and cooperation on water resources at ministerial, secretarial and experts’ level.

Prachanda had also activated a meeting of the India-Nepal Joint Committee on Water Resources (JCWR) that met in Kathmandu recently to discuss how to prevent the recurrence of such disasters and promote cooperation in water resources.

The Kosi river breached its embankment in Nepal’s Sunsari district in August, rendering over 50,000 homeless in Nepal and over three million in India’s Bihar state.

The flood created bad blood between the two neighbouring countries with Nepal holding the Bihar government responsible for not maintaining the barrage and its accompanying structures while India said that Nepal was unable to provide security to the maintenance team.

Nepal’s major political parties, including the ruling Maoists and the opposition Nepali Congress, had said that India should be asked to pay compensation for the damage caused by the flood.

Even as the flood assistance was handed over, there were growing allegations in Nepal that the work on strengthening the Kosi embankment and persuading the river back to its old course to prevent further loss was not proceeding on a war-footing.

Though the JCWR had said that the breached embankment would be repaired by March 2009, Nepal’s biggest daily Kantipur Thursday reported Nepali officials as expressing doubts about meeting the deadline as the work was going at a very slow pace.

Another daily, the Commander, said an underground armed group of former Maoists, which is active in the Terai plains, where the flood played havoc, had alleged that both Nepal and Bihar were delaying the work as the victims were mostly Madhesis, people of Indian origin who were neglected by a succession of Nepali governments.

Though Nepal is now a republic, the way Madhesis were regarded in the past has not changed, rebel leader Jay Krishna Goit, leader of Akhil Terai Mukti Morcha, said in a statement, the daily reported Thursday.

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