| A relief camp set up at a middle school in Saharsa’s Shahpur village. Picture by Amit Anand |
Nepal has ruled out the possibility of conducting more blasts, even controlled ones, in the site of the landslide and has turned to the option of using excavator machines to widen the gap of the waterway created on Saturday.
However, with the Met office in the Himalayan country predicting rain in the Sindhupalchok district later this week, the ongoing work towards widening the gaps at the waterway might be hampered.
“Right now, the weather in the area is normal without any rainfall. However, we are expecting rain in the area within a couple of days. The weather alert, as per normal procedure, will be shared with the authorities and the Nepalese army is closely monitoring the water volume and level at the artificial lake. They are also taking adequate steps to ensure that things remain in control and there are no further problems. Going by the weather, the rain can be heavy too over the weekend,” Gautam Rajkarnikar, deputy director-general, ministry of science, technology and environment, department of hydrology and meteorology, told The Telegraph over the phone.
Sources said they were trying to bring one excavator machine to the landslide spot. “The area has very difficult accessibility and the machine could not be moved to the spot by road. It was decided to airlift the machine and put in on the spot so that the work can be started,” a senior official with the state irrigation department said.
On Monday, the Indian authorities in Nepal had said the waterway downstream — created through two controlled twin blasts on Saturday — will be widened so that more water from the artificial lake could be pumped out.
Arun Kumar, liasoning officer of the state irrigation department in Nepal, said on Tuesday the idea of holding more blasts to widen the gap had been shunned for now.
“It has been decided earlier that the authorities will be carrying out some more blasts along the waterway to the right of the blockade so that it can widen more. However, the authorities had a proper inspection on Tuesday and saw the landslide site can become unstable if blasts are conducted. On Monday, the officials there had decided to create another waterway towards the left side of the accumulated debris with the help of explosives but the idea was dropped due to chances of another major landslide, which could be even more disastrous. It has been decided now that the gaps on the existing waterway will be increased with the help of equipment like excavator machines and other kinds of machinery. The work towards the same has started,” Arun said.
Arun added that the prediction of rain was not expected to create problems. “We do not think that the rain, if it happens, will be a problem. The water has been continuously moving downstream and the inflow of water in case of rain will not have much effect as the outflow is ongoing. However, heavy rain will hamper the ongoing work and water will fill up the artificial lake too,” he said.
State disaster management department special secretary Anirudh Kumar said the situation was under control but being observed. “Personnel of NDRF and army are still camping in the north Bihar districts. Though we do not feel there will be any further problems, coordination between the officials in Bihar and Nepal is still there and will continue,” he said.