New Delhi: There will be no immediate protection against flooding of the Kosi, a tributary of the Ganga, as the proposed dam to be built in Nepal to regulate the water flow will not come up before 2017.
The Kosi, which runs through the two neighbouring countries, began to breach its embankments in early August, resulting in massive floods that displaced 2.5 million people in India and Nepal. Both countries sought to rest the blame on each other.
No relief: A file photo of flood-affected people in Bihar. Floods in Kosi displaced about 2.5 million people in India and Nepal this year. Rupak De Chowdhuri / Reuters
Rivers originating in Nepal flow mostly in India—one reason why the flooding of these rivers affects India more.
“The long-term solution to the problem will be the construction of the high Kosi dam for which the DPR (detailed project report) will be ready by June 2010. The total project cost is expected to be around Rs30,000 crore, of which the irrigation component investment may be funded by us,” Umesh Narain Panjiar, secretary in India’s water resources ministry told Mint.
“The mechanism needs to be developed. The power component will be totally funded by Nepal, which is for them to decide later with whom to partner. The project will take seven to 10 years for completion,” he added.
This was decided at the recent meeting of India-Nepal joint panel on water resources.
“A team from Nepal will be here shortly to discuss these issues,” said Durgesh Man Singh, Nepal’s envoy to India.
The proposed dam is called Sapta Kosi high dam multipurpose project in Nepal and will help in hydropower generation, irrigation, flood control and navigation.
Mint had reported on 25 September about Nepal’s claims that the Kosi flooded because India ignored its suggestion on constructing an upstream barrage on the river at Chatra, due to the fear of the Nepal government creating problems for downstream areas by leveraging the barrage.
As part of a short-term solution—which requires an investment of Rs145 crore—the breach will be filled by the end of December, with the embankment to be restored by March. With around 100 spurs on both sides of the river, their strengthening will form a part of medium-term solution.
Spurs are created to soften the river’s effect on its embankment. According to design, the spur length on the Kosi was to be of 200-300m each. Over a period of time, the length of the spurs has reduced to some 50m due to lack of maintenance.
The proposed Kosi dam will also be beneficial to Nepal. Though the country has 83,000MW of hydropower potential, it is facing a power deficit of around 300MW.
Tapping some of the country’s hydropower potential could help bridge the gap and the surplus could be tapped by India. Nepal has an installed capacity of 617MW, of which around 569.87MW is hydropower.
“Hydro projects do take time depending upon the nature of the project, area getting inundated and the associated social and ecological issues. The flooding problem has been around for some time now,” said K. Ramanathan, fellow at the New Delhi-based The Energy and Research Institute.