Tension with Nepal stops repair work on Lal Bakia river


Situation remains tense along the India-Nepal border in Balua Guwabari area bordering East Champaran, as adamant posturing continues by Nepal over repair work on the western embankment of Lal Bakia river. 

 Flood relief and prevention tools have been dumped along the embankment but people from Guwabari village in Nepal and authorities aren’t allowing any construction in the area. An approximate 600m stretch remains unrepaired giving rise to fear of flood and calamity among the villagers. Barricades have been put up on either sides of the border with SSB on the Indian side and Nepal Prahri on the other side.

The locals narrate how relations have deteriorated between the villages in the past 10 days. Dasirath Shah, a resident of Baluwa village on Indian side, said, “The engineers and the labourers were working on the embankment when locals and officials came along with Nepali police and stopped the work. They even threw away some bags of sand put along the embankment and said that the work can’t be done as the embankment fell in their area.”

Nazeer Miyan recalled with horror how Lal Bakia river had breached its embankment in 2017 and caused widespread devastation in dozens of villages on the Indian side. Pointing to Baluwa village he said, “Most of the thatched houses here got washed away in 2017. If the repair work is not done, we will witness devastation yet again.”

For ages the people of Baluwa village in India and of Guwabari in Nepal have lived in harmony. Today Baluwa villagers want the embankment to be fully ready and the same is being opposed by Guwabari villagers on the Nepal side. Nepal’s authorities are adamant and are still not allowing the Indian officials to complete the remaining work even as the rivers in the area are continuously on the rise. 

People from either side of the border are not able to meet their relatives on the other side. Mohammed Anees from Baluwa village informed that he often calls his relatives in Nepal on the border and meet them at the border itself. 

He added, “Nepal is doing all this on the behest of China. We never saw this type of restriction before. Today if we go to the other side we are stopped and threatened.”

He also recalled how a SSB Jawan was attacked recently on the border and the villagers from Indian side rushed to save him. 

 Even as tension refuses to subside, the embankment needs urgent flood control measures.