How long will there be a risk of more floods threatening the Melamchi project headworks and downstream valleys?
Looking at the debris field there, it is likely that the effect will be quite long-term. Every time there is heavy rain, the loose boulders and sand will keep being washed down. The debris accumulation has to be thoroughly studied before we can say anything about its long-term effects. Only after studying the volume of the debris field can we predict how long it will affect downstream areas. Research Is also needed to design mitigation efforts.
Is there a way to stop the flood upstream so it does not threaten the Melamchi project?
We cannot top the flow where the debris field is currently located. However, if we build a series of check dams, the danger from floods can be reduced. There is sufficient technology and manpower to do so, but it all depends on whether the government has the political will and the funding to carry it out. If preventive measures are taken in time, threats of future catastrophes can be minimised.
What lessons can we learn from the Melamchi flood?
We must thoroughly analyse what lies upstream before we design any infrastructure or settlements. What are the potential dangers? What can be done to safeguard against future disasters? When planning large-scale projects like Melamchi, we should model the potential for natural disasters, and engineer them accordingly. The Melamchi flood has reminded us of the importance of researching that an expensive project like that must
The extensive damage caused by the natural disasters is a reminder that we should not take Himalayan geology for granted, and formulate policies accordingly.
Read also: Drones to the rescue in Melamchi, Nepali Times