Jul 25, 2019

Madhesh: Nepalese Lawmakers Discuss Relief and Lasting Solutions for Floods in the Terai Region

Ever since the region was given to Nepal by the East India Company, the Madhesh people have faced discrimination by the Nepalese government and there has been an increased call for more autonomy in the Terai. Historically, it has been seen as a distinct region for centuries, which differs from the rest of Nepal in many ways, for instance in terms of its plain terrain and subtropical climate. This makes the region more vulnerable to floods that regularly damage the main source of subsistence of the impoverished indigenous population: agriculture.  

The article below was published by The Himalayan Times:

The House of Representatives today unanimously adopted a special resolution condoling the deaths caused by recent floods and landslides and urged the government to carry out relief, rescue and rehabilitation work effectively.

The special resolution was adopted after the HoR discussed the plight of flood and landslide affected people for almost six hours.

The Nepali Congress and Rastriya Janata Party- Nepal, which had been obstructing House proceedings since July 9 (2019), ended their obstruction to discuss their motion of urgent public importance about floods and landslides.

Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara also announced that all HoR members would contribute their one day’s salary to the government’s relief fund.

The NC and RJP-N have been demanding formation of a parliamentary committee to investigate the alleged cases of two extra judicial killings in Sarlahi, but they ended their House obstruction for today to discuss flood and landslide related issues.

Both ruling and opposition parties’ lawmakers who took part in the debate today, urged the government to provide relief and shelter to flood affected people, seek lasting solution to floods in the Tarai by managing rivers and building embankments, halting haphazard exploitation of Chure range and forming a national authority to control and mitigate the impacts of disasters.

They also said haphazard use of excavators in hill areas was increasing the risk of disaster.

NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba condemned the government for ‘not distributing relief materials’ to flood affected people in the Tarai districts.

Deuba, who recently toured Tarai districts to assess damage caused by recent floods, said flood displaced people lacked food, clothes and shelter. “The government should have acted fast to provide relief to flood victims but it did nothing in this regard. The government built very weak embankments in the Tarai districts,” he said and added that the government needed to have plans to address the problem of siltation in the rivers.

He also said that Nepal blamed India for flood and vice-versa, but both countries should stop engaging in such allegations and counter-allegations. Nepal should hold dialogue with India to find a solution to the problems for good.

NC lawmaker Minendra Rijal, who had moved the motion of urgent public importance in the House, said the government needed to prepare an integrated plan to address the problems of disaster victims.

RJP-N lawmaker Rajkishor Yadav, who seconded the motion, said that the government’s preparedness to deal with floods and landslides was not enough even when the members of the relevant House panel had warned the government of disaster risks.

NC lawmaker Amresh Kumar Singh said that the ruling class of all parties was treating people of Province 2 as second class people and therefore, they were not doing enough to find durable solution to floods and disasters.

NCP (NCP) lawmaker Aman Lal Modi said the government was not doing enough to provide relief to flood victims in Morang district.

Nepal Communist Party (NCP) lawmaker Prabhu Shah said, “We lose almost 24 billion rupees due to floods every year but if we invest that much money to manage rivers, we may be able to solve flood-related problems for good.”

Samajwadi Party Nepal lawmaker Uma Shankar Argariya demanded ex gratia payment of one million rupees for the families who lost their loved ones in the floods and landslides. He also said that the government should provide free treatment to those who were injured during floods.

RJP-N leader Rajendra Mahato said that people questioned the presence of the government in flood-hit areas as they did not get any relief from the government. He said district committees that addressed problems of disasters, had millions of rupees in their account and yet the victims of disasters had not received relief from the government.


Photo courtesy of The Himalayan Times