Dam brings sweeping changes in Chitwan
CHITWAN, APR 29 -
Whenever it rains heavily and the river is swollen every monsoon, Hatana Chaudhary of Bhandara VDC-9 is reminded of a flood in the Rapti some 18 years back, which washed away an entire settlement—his neighbours, their houses, cattle and crops—and the little patch of land he owned shrunk significantly.
The nightmare will never be a reality again. The flood terror appears to be a thing of the past for thousands of people like Chaudhary in eastern Chitwan after a 19 km embankment and a dam were constructed to contain the river and to divert its water to form a well-canalised irrigation system.
The people’s wish to live in a deluge-free area was realised when the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation provided financial and technical support for the construction and preservation of the dam.
The flood victims have formed the Lothar Rapti Dyke Protection Committee in order to repair the embankment and safeguard the volatile region. What makes the project unique is that local committees under the LRDPC are empowered to take decisions.
According to the Chitwan District Development Committee, the embankment and irrigation canals have benefited about 300,000 people of thousands of households. The embankment also protects 20,000 hectares of farmland in this area popularly known as the “rice bowl” of Chitwan, benefiting villages such as Piple, Kathar, Khairahani, Birendranagar, Bhandara, Kumroj, Bachhauli, Pithuwa and Chainpur, and Ratnanagar municipality.
“The ongoing dam construction and maintenance works have saved several VDCs, including Sauraha, one of the country’s major tourist hubs,” says Jagrit Prasad Bhetwal, chairman of the LRDPC. He said the area is prone to floods since it falls six metres below the river.
Once perennially devastated by floods, the region has seen unprecedented changes after the dam and the irrigation system were constructed. Agricultural production in the area has quadrupled and many farmers are attracted to fishery. There has also been a sharp rise in both the price of and demand for the land.
Posted on: 2012-04-29 08:52