India keeps close watch on Kosi, `Bihar’s sorrow’

July 26th, 2010 - 3:46 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, July 26 (IANS) With the crisis of 2008 still fresh in mind, when a rain-gorged Kosi river wreaked havoc in southern Nepal and India’s Bihar state, India has begun de-silting the mighty river to avert a fresh crisis this monsoon, the first such effort in nearly 50 years.

India’s Minister of State for Water Resources Vincent H. Pala paid a surprise visit to Sunsari district in southern Nepal Sunday to inspect the removal of debris from the pilot channels of the Kosi river in a bid to prevent the swirling waters from breaching embankments and triggering floods.

The government of Bihar, which is entrusted with the maintenance and repair of the Kosi barrage, has brought a dredger machine, reportedly costing nearly NRS 50 million, to remove the accumulating sand and silt in the bed of the river and help keep the water level down.

This is the first time since the construction of the Kosi barrage in 1962, as per a bilateral pact between India and Nepal, that the river is being de-silted, Nepal’s official media said Monday.

The Indian government initiated the move after reports in Nepal’s media last week that due to the arrival of the rains, the flow of water in the Kosi river had reached an all-time high.

India has also sent a team of engineers and technicians to oversee the process.

Last year, India sent its Minster for Parliamentary Affairs and Water Resources Pawan Kumar Bansal to inspect the Kosi barrage.

(Sudeshna Sarkar can be contacted at sudeshna.s@ians.in)

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