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Bhotekoshi river basin prone to flash floods

April, 02 2012


BARHABISE: If experts are to be believed flash floods would severely affect hundreds of people along the 107-km Bhotekoshi and Sunkoshi basin triggered by glacial lake outburst floods or GLOFs and cloudbursts at any time like earthquakes.

Pradeep Mool, a glaciologist of the International Centre for the Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), therefore, urges the government for installation of the early warning system to avert the impending disaster.

In the wake of expert’s warning to the settlements and save people’s lives, an international conference on ‘Mountain Countries on Climate Change’ is scheduled for April 5-6 in Kathmandu to bring the issue into limelight.

Representatives from 54 governments including many from developed countries are participating in the two-day event. On its part, Nepal has expressed its readiness to work out common framework including a joint effort to reduce risks in regional and global level on the threats to the mountain communities.

A study by ICIMOD in 2010 said that nearly 900 households with a total population of 5,800 will be directly affected along the 107-km stretch of the Sunkoshi and the Bhotekoshi river basin down to Dolalghat. Two power stations and many infrastructures like roads and schools are to be affected, added the study.

According to experts, big boulders in Sunkoshi and Bhotekoshi rivers are evidences of flash floods of 1981, 1987 and 1996. Locals in Larcha village near the Bhotekoshi Power Project said at least 65 persons, including a policeman, were swept away by flash floods in the Bhairav Kunda Khola, a tributary of the Bhote Koshi, during the night of June 30, 1996.

Similarly, the floods in 1964 and 1981 were triggered after the Zhangazngbo Lake of Tibet cracked. In July 11, 1981, the GLOF washed away several bridges, including China-Nepal Friendship Bridge along the Araniko Highway, and caused damage to the road.

Moreover, the diversion weir of the Sunkoshi Hydropower Plant was severely damaged. The flood also gushed into the powerhouse, and it took over six months to resume the plant.

Considering these disasters, Mool urged the government for installation of the early warning system without any further delay, adding, “Similar flash floods are, of course, equally devastating in the parts of China; however, they have effective risk mitigation measures.”

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