| Residents of Bhikhnathodhi try to remove a barrier put up by people in Nepal to hold the water of the Pandai river. Picture by Awadh Kishor Tiwari |
Around 40,000 people in seven villages in the hilly range of West Champaran have no other option but to depend on Nepal for their daily water requirements.
The problem for the residents of Bhikhnathodi, Dhamaura, Ekwa, Sahodara, Khairatia, Ankhawa and Bhawanipur villages increases especially in the summer season when the Pandai river is blocked by the people in Nepal.
The hilly Pandai river, however, is opened during the rains by the Nepalese when they become afraid of flood threats. Closure of canals from the Pandai in the summer also often results in dispute and tension on the border among people of the two countries.
In the event of prolonged tension among nationals of the two countries, water tankers for drinking purposes are supplied among the bordering Indian population by the local administration.
That limited stock often falls short to cater to their requirement because right from the drinking purposes, even for their day-to-day use and agriculture, people of this area are primarily dependent over the free flow of the Pandai.
“Every time the dispute is solved with intervention of officials at the local level from both the sides,” said progressive farmer Sushil Chhapoliya of Ramnagar, around 310km northwest of Patna.
He lamented that nothing could be done so far to find out a permanent solution to this crisis by ending dependence of the bordering Indian population over the Nepali water for their survival.
“This permanent cause of dispute between the Indian and Nepali nationals could have been solved much earlier had this issue been taken up between the two bordering districts at the district magistrate level,” said Upendra Nath Tewari of the village.
Being a hilly region of the district, normal tube wells are often not successful in this part of West Champaran. The drilling machines of better technology are required for installation of the tube wells.
Asked regarding the problem of water crisis in that area and measures so far taken by the administration to find out a permanent solution, Narkatiaganj sub-divisional magistrate Vijay Pandey said a drive in that area to get rid of the problem with sufficient number of tube wells was started at Thorhi in June last year.
The project at Ekwa and Bhawanipur would be completed in next few months, he said. “This will find a permanent solution to the irrigation problem for farmers of this area,” Pandey added.