India brazenly overlooking Mahakali Irrigation Project

– Sher Bahadur Singh

May 20 : Twenty four years have already passed since Nepal and India signed a treaty on the integrated development of the Mahakali River. However, it is yet be implemented thanks to the brazen passivity on the part of the Indian side . Specifically speaking, they are dillydallying to carry out the construction works of the main canal under the Mahakali Irrigation Project (Phase-III) as stipulated by the treaty.

As per the Clause 2 (2) of the treaty, it is the responsibility of India to construct such canal measuring 12,000- meter along with the head regulator from the Tanakpur dam up to Nepal’s border to release water that Nepal is entitled to get from the dam.

On its part, Nepal had already constructed 13 kilometer of the main canal in fiscal year 2007/08 while an additional 15 kilometres of it is still under construction.

Director of Mahakali Irrigation Project (Phase-III), Prachanda Dev Bishta said they have moved forward with the construction works of the canal for providing irrigation facility to the Nepal areas close to the Tanakpur barrage. As per the agreement, Nepal is entitled to get 1,000 Cusecs water from Tanakpur and the Project has the target of irrigating 33,000 hectares land up to Malakheti of Kailali.

Nevertheless, the Indian side is not ready to give irrigation water to Mahakali municipality (Dodhara Chandani) as per the terms of the Treaty. “It is an unofficial view of the Indian side that they would give water to Dodhara Chandani only after the construction of the Pancheshwor. It has already been almost eight years since Nepal submitted the detailed project report of Pancheshwor to India. But still India has not done anything in that regard,” Bishta added. As per the Treaty, India should provide water for irrigating 3,500 hectares of land at Dodhara Chandani in Nepal.

“The Treaty states that India should provide 353 Cusecs water from its Sharada canal near the Banbasa bridge to Dodhara Chandani. Nepal has prepared the DPR for the construction of the main canal at Dodhara Chandani which is estimated to cost Rs 4 billion,” he added.

A secretary level meeting of both the countries including the water resource experts had decided to settle the topic of giving water to Nepal from the Sharada canal through consensus within six months. This deadline has been over around nine months back. India has to construct about one kilometre canal to the Nepal-India border starting from Sharada canal.

Former minister and District Development Committee president, Rishi Raj Lumsali expresses doubts that India will give any water to Nepal from the Mahakali River as per the treaty. “If the southern neighbour had been really sincere to do so, it would have done it much earlier.” RSS

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