Since I’m living here all by myself in my beautiful three-storey Bagdol abode, I’ve been looking around for a new place lately. Preferably with some other people, cause I don’t really like to live alone. Yesterday I went to check out an apartment very close to my work. I would/will (I dunno yet) be living with two Australian girls from the Hash and so we talked a little the evening I was there. One of them is involved with the flooding that happened some months ago in the east of Nepal. She told one of those classic stories of social horrors that’s hard to comprehend for us mere worker bees.
Just a quick recap: last August the Koshi river broke through it’s eastern embankment (through the collapse of a dam I believe) and flooded a big part of the flat, fertile part of Nepal, the Tarai. Then the water streamed on into the Indian province of Bihar. About 60.000 Nepali’s had to move and about 3 million… let me repeat that… THREE MILLION Bihari’s had to high-tail it. Leaving flooded farmland, dead cattle and destroyed crops which would have been eaten by the locals of course, and which is vital for the rest of the country.
I learned from the room-girl that the water still hasn’t been sealed up yet (the breach grew from 300 meter in August 18 to over 2 km due to erosion). We in Kathmandu probably only have felt this directly in that the loadshedding (scheduled power cuts) hours have gone up; a/the dam(s) alongside the river supplied power. But there’s still running water over farmland, villages and such. I don’t know how much land, and how much people is/are affected, but that isn’t the biggest problem here.
In a couple of months it’s gonna be monsoon season again. Room-girl was quite sure that they couldn’t seal the hole before that. So enormous amounts of water in river, breach not sealed yet… Not good. Embankment will erode once more. Again massive floods.
Now that’s a natural disaster. Force of nature, bad planning, perhaps… no, probably not enough resources allocated. But there’s quite a vicious social horror story attached to this. Which makes this whole thing damn right evil, if not purposefully then through negligence to investigate the issue by the responsible policy-makers:
All those 60.000 people had to go somewhere, right? Most of them went to the big cities, and so a lot went to Kathmandu. As a LOT of rural people went to Kathmandu over the past years. Policy-makers would rather want them out, so now they offer these people the sum of 150.000 rupies a person (could be wrong by a couple of zeroes) in relief-aid IF they sign this piece of paper that they march right back to their ruined farmland and homes and dead buffaloes and wait for the next flood to displace them. Just what the neglected, poor, ethnic-tension ridden Terai needs… Ain’t that evil?
I wouldn’t even mind if someone out there on the interwebz could harshly point out to me where in my post I tried to rape reality.