Last year was the worst monsoon season in the past two decades in terms of casualties: there were 500 major landslides, nearly 300 killed and 70 missing. Most of the landslides were, again, in Sindhupalchok and were blamed on poor and unregulated road construction that disturbed the slopes.
A cyclonic circulation over northern India means the rains have continued along the Himalayan foothills, and it is forecast to continue through the weekend. In Melamchi Bazar, there was fresh warning of inundation and people were evacuated on Thursday afternoon.
As the monsoon progresses, much of the flood action will shift to the Tarai. There, too, this year the floods will ‘wreak havoc’. And again, the submergence will largely be due to constriction of rivers by embankments, settlements along flood plains, perimeter walls that act as dams, and the denudation and destruction of the Chure Range.
There was a flood of recrimination last year, many commentators lamented the lack of oversight. But there has been no let-up in destructive road-building. This week, Nepal’s seven provinces passed budgets in which most of their revenue is going to be derived from quarry and sand-mining contractors allowed to unsustainably exploit natural resources. The government has allowed river valleys and the fragile Chure to be mined for stone exports to India.
With politicians distracted by one upmanship, and federalism not functioning because of micro-management by parties in Kathmandu, this season of disasters will be talked about for a while. Until next year’s monsoon.