Misleading Publicity Surrounding Kosi Treaty (II)

Thus flood control would be the most important benefit to accrue from large storage projects to be built in the Kosi basin

Oct. 26, 2013, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 07 No. -9 Oct. 25- 2013 (Kartik 08, 2070)

In course of  first  official  visit of our then Prime-minister G.P. Koirala  to India  an agreement was signed to conduct jointly detailed feasibility  study of the Kosi High Dam Project.   This type  of isolated  study of the Kosi dam project could  be  detrimental to the interest of our country  since Sun-kosi and Kosi navigation projects  are extremely  important  projects directly tied up  with the Kosi Dam Project.  I raised this issue  within the Ministry  of Water Resources  displeasing  many of my colleagues, who regarded that an agreement already signed between two prime-ministers should not be questioned. But I did not give in.  

I prepared  based on my own personal experience a  new plan for the Kosi river development  that could be put  to the  Indo-Nepal joint  meeting. The proposed plan has been presented in two reports ( Ref-1, Ref-2).   Those reports had  been circulated to various concerned agencies.  Similarly important  findings  of those reports  have been  published  in several local  newspapers and magazines.  The conclusions of the reports can be roughly presented under four  headings. 

Flood Control           

At present Kosi river channel  bed is well above the surrounding  grounds  due to continued siltation. The embankment have already outlived their useful life.  We have already witnessed enormous loss of life and property in 2008 breach of Kosi embankment  when the flood discharge was only about 1 ½  lack cusecs, where-as  flood discharge of almost nine lacks cusecs have already been measured twice within  the last fifty years.  Thus flood control would be the most important benefit to accrue from large storage projects to be built in the Kosi basin.  However, until  the !997 Indo- Nepal joint meeting Indian Government had been maintaining  the view  communicated to our government through official  correspondence that  Kosi flood problems  have already been solved forever  after the completion of the construction of the Kosi embankments.  It is absolutely necessary to implement large storage dam projects within the Kosi basin to save the life and property of millions living particularly in North Bihar and also in some parts of  the Sunsari  district of Nepal.

Sun-Kosi High Dam First

Simple Sun-Kosi diversion project ( without high dam) and the proposed Kosi dam project are  mutually exclusive of one another.  Similarly,  the Sun-Kosi high dam project and the  Kosi high dam project would also be mutually exclusive of one another if the Kosi dam is built first.  Thus the Sun-Kosi dam project would  have to be implemented FIRST.

Optimum height of the Kosi dam would be over 335 m. It would be the highest dam in the world. India has proposed a dam height of 269 m. In either case the site of the Sun-Kosi dam would be submerged  if the Kosi dam is built first.  Thus the detailed study of the Sun-Kosi project should also be immediately started to complete  the construction of the Sun-Kosi dam project before starting the construction  of the Kosi dam.

Sun-Kosi  Dam Site

The site of the Sun-Kosi storage dam to be built for diverting this river onto Terai plain had been identified based on several past studies. It is located just downstream of the confluence of  the Sun-Kosi and Dudh-Kosi rivers. The place is called KURULE.

Kosi Canal Navigation

The concept of Kosi navigation  canal linking Nepal with the seaport is entirely mine.  Nepal as well as Bihar could greatly benefit from the proposed navigation canal.

Conclusion of  1997 Indo-Nepal Joint Meeting

As head of Nepal team  I was easily able to convince the Indian delegates our view points on Kosi development.  The Indo-Nepal joint meeting  completely endorsed our proposal as  described in  my two reports.  However, nobody  was expecting  that Indo-Nepal joint meeting could so easily reach an  agreement about the thorny Kosi river issue.  People had  good reason to suspect that Nepal’s  interest might  have been compromised.  Some political parties even denounced the agreement. Kosi agreement was front-page news.  Some papers even blamed me that I  had wrongly signed the Kosi study agreement.

Gradually  people started to realize that the Kosi study agreement  was in conformity to our country’s  long term  development plan.  I was helped by MITRAKUNJ to organize a meeting  in Russian Cultural Centre attended by relevant experts, politicians, media persons distinguished in the field of water resources. I explained  in the meeting the Kosi problems.  Those attending the meeting realized the significance of the Kosi study agreement.  The following day all papers covered positively Kosi news.

Shocking New Developments

It is quite shocking that our own government is now trying to  reduce significantly the flow of the Sun-Kosi  river  presently  available at Kurule site for irrigation in Terai  by diverting the Dudh-Kosi  river further downstream  away  from the Sun-Kosi diversion intake.   In such case  our Terai people would  be  experiencing  shortage of water supply  for irrigation even after the completion of the  Sun-Kosi project particularly in later years  because the limited storage volume of the  Sun-Kosi reservoir could be expected to be  filled  up relatively quickly.

It is also rumoured  that  our government is going to abandon the Kurule site  in order to build the diversion dam further upstream at a new site perhaps out of the  reach  of Kosi reservoir submergence area even  though  such change  would result to significant reduction of dry season flow available for irrigation in Terai.  The sole purpose of such change would be to limit the availability  of  Sun-Kosi  water in our Terai  and  also  to pave the way to implement first the Kosi High Dam Project  that would indefinitely  delay the construction of the Sun-Kosi project.

____________

  REFERENCE - (1)  Planning Kosi High Dam Project, Thapa AB 1993;  (2)  Kosi Canal Waterway, Thapa AB 1993

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