A bridge over the Mechi at Panitanki, 40km from Siliguri. File picture
Jalpaiguri, Nov. 25: India and Nepal have agreed to construct embankments along the Mechi river that marks the boundary between the two countries to prevent erosion and flood.
The embankments will also help prevent elephant movement from India to Nepal and the Sashastra Seema Bal carry out border patrolling in a better way. The barrier on the Indian side will come up in Naxalbari and Khoribari blocks in Darjeeling district.
The decision to build the spill-checking dam (embankment) was taken at a meeting attended by water experts from both the countries in New Delhi.
“While the Indian government will construct a 19.5km-long embankment on our side, Nepal will build a 5-6-km long barrier on the right bank of the river,” Narayan Chatterjee, the chairperson of North Bengal Flood Control Commission (NBFCC) who attended the meeting, told The Telegraph over the phone from Delhi.
The two-day meet organised by the Union ministry of water resources ended today.
“The central government will fund the construction on the Bengal side. We (NBFCC) have been asked to work in association with the Central Water Commission and the ministry and submit a detailed project report by December 31,” said Chatterjee.
The Mechi originates in eastern Nepal and flows along the Indian border in the Naxalbari and Khoribari blocks before entering Bihar and joining the Mahananda near Kishanganj.
Chatterjee said three border pillars (numbers 16, 17 and 18) had been either washed away or damaged by the Mechi on the Indian side. The river has also gobbled up 185 hectares in 12 mouzas in the two blocks.
The flood-control panel head said the dykes would act as barriers against elephant movement from north Bengal to Nepal and facilitate border patrolling.
“Although the basic aim of the embankments is to check the inundation of villages along the river, the concrete structures also offer solutions to two problems. First, the SSB which guards the India-Nepal border will find it easy to carry out patrolling as a road will be built on the embankment. Second, elephants won’t be able cross the Mechi and enter Nepal,” said Chatterjee.
The “intrusion” of the animal from India into Nepal — the elephant corridor in north Bengal stretches from the Mechi till the Sankosh on the Assam border — often leads to loss of crop, properties and even human life in the neighbouring country. There were even reports of elephants suffering bullet injuries in Nepal.