Illegal extraction puts 65 households at high risk along Rapti River

Nepalgunj : People residing along the Rapti river side from Bhaluwang to Lamahi of Dang district are at high risk of flooding. Properties worth hundreds and thousands of rupees have already been swept away by the floods in the past and thousands of hectres of land are still at high risk of being swept away.

Locals said that they have been left panic stricken as the floods in the Rapti River sweep away their land every year. During a program organized by the Nepal Forum of Environmental Journalists (NEFEJ) at Gadhawa Rural Municipality, Ram Autar Chaudhary said that Ward-7 is at high risk of flooding.

“Roads are being blacktopped in all the places, but Maknahawa Village does not have road yet,” he said, adding, “As the Rapti River changed its direction, at least 65 households in Maknahawa Village are at high risk of flooding. Our village will be swept away by the floods if the concerned authority did not construct embankment along the river this year.”

Another local Priya Smriti Gajmer said, “River bed materials are being extracted from Bhaluwang to the border of Dang in Rapti River.” “Is there any law to stop the illegal extraction? If there is, why the law has not been implemented yet?” he questioned.

“We all are doing our best to protect the natural resources, but the concerned authority has not been able to stop the illegal extraction of riverbed materials,” Dhan Kumari Chaudhary said, adding, “Fishes are easily available in Rapti River these days after the formulation of Aquatic Animal Protection Act.”

Another participant of the program Pateshwor Chaudhary said, “The future of Rapt is water. Aquatic biodiversity will be affected if the water gets polluted. As a result, fish and other aquatic animals will be affected a lot.” Rapti and Gadhawa Rural Municipality will face the problem of water shortage in the next 10 years if the illegal extraction of riverbed materials is not stopped immediately and people have to install boring for water as an alternative,” Gadhawa Rural Municipality Chairperson Sahajraj Ahir said.

“Crushers should be brought under the law. Discussions are being held in Province Assembly also as the riverbed materials are still being extracted from the Rapti River,” Chairperson Ahir said.

Forest and environment conservationist Umakanta Pant said the riverbed materials are being extracted from the river and no authority has done anything to control it.

“This is my land and I am extracting the riverbed materials. I have taken permission from the Rural Municipality and Ward Office to extract the materials,” crusher owner Raju Shahi said, adding, “I am operating the crusher factory by meeting all the criteria.”

Saying that the effort on the part of local representatives is not enough to control the illegal extraction of riverbed materials, Pant said that everyone should joined hands and support each other to control it. She also urged NEFEJ to hold Paani discussion again in the future for the long term development.

Issues about inundation and illegal extraction of riverbed materials were discussed during the program organized by NEFEJ under the Paani Project with the assistance from USAID.

On the occasion, local representatives have expressed their commitment to urge the province and central government to control illegal extraction of riverbed materials in Rapti River.

Chairman and Vice-Chairman of Gadhawa Rural Municipality, ward chairmen, local representatives, locals, police personnel and officials of Red Cross, among others, were present at the program.

Some of the commitments made by local representatives to control illegal extraction of riverbed materials and inundation are as follows:

  1. To stick to the past commitments to control water-related disaster.
  2. To intensify work to make the coordination among other Rural Municipalities and Municipalities strong.
  3. To join hands to control the illegal extraction of riverbed materials.
  4. To urge local organizations and communities to manage the embankment area.
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