Save The Ribble

A blog dedicated to preserving the beauty and delicate ecosystem of the River Ribble, and opposing the Riverworks 'vision' to build a barrage on our River and develop on our riverbanks, floodplains and green spaces, causing damage to wildlife and the environment and increasing the risk of flooding to our homes. Save the Ribble Campaign is not responsible for the content of external blogs or websites which link here.

Monday, September 29, 2008

River Barrages and Flood "Defence" Embankments Causing Flood Devastation in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh

The most recent flooding in India, Napal, and Bangladesh has been exacerbated by River barrages and flood "defence" embankments built along the river floodplains, particularly the huge Ganges river system.

These barrages have also caused huge environmental impacts such as erosion, desertification, siltation, and loss of farmland and environmental habitats including huge impacts on fisheries in areas where people rely completely on being able to grow and catch their own food.

As the flood waters have backed up behind the barrage structures, the river banks either side have been seriously breached and flooded huge areas of land. The Kosi barrage was itself breached too in recent weeks, causing further devastation downstream.

photo courtesy ASAP

Sudhirendar Sharma reports:

'Over 3,465 km of embankments have been built as a flood-control measure in Bihar since 1952, and more embankments are in the offing. When will government realise that it is the embankments themselves that are responsible for Bihar’s recurrent floods?
The truth is that Delhi has got its flood action plan consistently wrong over the years, and so has Patna. Shockingly, it is the flood control measures themselves that have over the years turned north Bihar into a watery grave for millions. Over 2 million people are permanently trapped between the flood control embankments which have been built along the Kosi river since the early-1950s ... An estimated 8 million people are faced with acute water-logging outside of the embankments. Strait-jacketing the silt-laden Kosi has actually caused flood-prone areas in the state to increase threefold since independence, from a low of 25,00,000 hectares to a high of 68,00,000 hectares today. No less than 73% of the entire land mass of Bihar remains flood-prone.'
See Missing the River for the Dam and Abandoned Victims of the Kosi Embankments.

'A dam on the river in Nepal breached earlier this month causing the Kosi to change its course, swamping hundreds of villages in Bihar and destroying more than 100,000 hectares (247,000 acres) of farmland.'

The havoc was reportedly caused by the gates of the Kailashpuri barrage (on the Ghagara river) not being opened.

See What is Flooding the Koshi Barrage and Nepal Blames India for Fresh Flooding.

On Sept 5: 'Engineers working at the Kosi Barrage in Nepal have said that the river would continue to change its course if heavy silt deposits are not removed... the river has breached its embankment 8 times in a span of just 50 years and government officials as well as the engineers are being blamed for the catastrophe said to largely manmade.' See News Track India.

Meanwhile, Muhammad Javed Iqbal has recently pointed out the ongoing devastation caused by the Farakka Barrage to huge areas of India and Bangladesh along the Ganges basin, which has caused desertification, massive erosion, and huge siltation problems along the Ganges basin.

This particular barrage was built to supposedly SOLVE problems caused by earlier barrages along other stretches of the Ganges huge river system, but has of course made the problems considerably worse - and not just for the environment as over 20 thousand people been made homeless by the unforeseen consequences of the Farakka barrage, and two rivers 20km downstream of the barrage, which used to be 3 km apart 10 years ago, are now only 750 METRES apart, and are likely to merge and cause even more havoc.
See The Farakka Barrage - An Environmental Mistake

If you would like to help people hit by the devastating floods in Nepal, India, and Bangladesh, please click on the links below:
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

Save The Children donation site

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