The Telegraph
Tuesday , August 5 , 2014
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Nepal data help rule out deluge
Release brings down fear

Fear for the worst over Kosi looked to pass on Monday though authorities remained in wait-and-watch mode.

Three days since a landslide in Nepal and a red alert in the Kosi region, senior water resources officials ruled out the possibility of a flash flood or deluge-like conditions in any of the nine districts.

The alert was issued in Supaul, Saharsa, Madhepura, Araria, Purnea, Madhubani, Khagaria, Darbhanga and Bhagalpur.

Secretary, water resources, Dipak Kumar Singh, who is camping in Supaul, told The Telegraph over phone: “According to information received from Kathmandu on Monday, additional water flow from the debris at the landslide site in Sunkosi was at an average rate of around 9,000 to 15,000 cusec (cubic feet per second) over the past 48 hours. Even in the worst condition, we expect this additional water flow to soar to maximum of 90,000 to 1,00,000 cusec. In such a situation, the highest discharge at the Birpur barrage in Supaul, according to our estimation, would be 6-7.5 lakh cusec, whereas its designed discharge capacity is 9.5 lakh cusec. So, the situation is now under control.”

Around 12 noon on Monday, the volume of water in the artificial lake formed because of the landslide at Jure village was also 25.9 lakh cubic feet in an area of 0.39sqkm.

“A declining trend in the volume of water being discharged from the artificial lake was being observed from 11pm on Sunday,” said Dipak.

A close observation of the real-time hourly data from the department of hydrology and meteorology of government of Nepal on flow of water in Kosi suggest that on Monday an additional volume of around 7,000-8,000 cusec was being discharged in the river from the artificial pond.

Experts claimed that discharge of such volume of additional water in the Kosi was not alarming. “There is nothing to be panicked about an additional discharge of 8,000 cusec water into the Kosi, provided it does not happen suddenly. As of Monday, the discharge in the embankment of Kosi in Supaul was around 1,70,000 cusec, whereas it had gone up to 2,25,000 cusec in June,” said an IIT-Kharagpur-trained civil engineer and an expert on the Kosi floods.

Officials in Nepal also informed their counterparts in Bihar that they were not going to trigger any more blasts in the 1km-long debris at the landslide site and would just widen the existing holes to slightly increase the discharge. The Nepalese army triggered four controlled blasts on Saturday to make the holes.

“The Nepal government does not want sudden discharge of around 26 lakh cusec water from the artificial lake at Sindhupalchok because they do not want any damage to one of their power generation plants. Accordingly, they would try to gradually increase the size of the existing holes, so as to drain out the additional water smoothly. Based on this information received from the Nepalese agencies in Kathmandu on Monday morning, we have come to the conclusion that there would be no flash flood or deluge in any of the nine identified districts in Bihar,” said Dipak.

Officials in Bihar are not resting easy though.

On imminent floods in the danger zone on either side of Kosi, Dipak said: “Even if there is a sudden discharge from the landslide site in Nepal, it would take around 20 hours to flood the embankments of Kosi in Bihar. The government, along with other agencies, is working on a war footing to evacuate the maximum number of people from these areas. There would be sufficient time to evacuate rest of the people in case of a sudden discharge.”

IITian Dinesh Mishra corroborated claims of the least possibility of a disaster. “There would not be any wall of floodwater gushing into the areas between the embankments. The maximum volume of additional water in the Kosi in such a situation is expected to be around 90,000 to one lakh cusec, which not very high,” said Mishra.