Indo-Nepal joint field survey team launches exercise to settle dispute

An Indo-Nepal joint field survey team has started work for an amicable resolution to a land border dispute at Dhaka block in Bihar’s East Champaran district amid strained diplomatic ties between the two neighbouring countries.

A two-member survey team from Dehradun, aided by their counterparts from Nepal, has measured the disputed land at Baluwa village in Dhaka block under Sikarahana subdivision of the East Champaran district on Thursday and Friday.

“The two-day survey has been conducted by a joint team from India and Nepal. A report to this effect will be submitted in the next 10 days,” said Shirsat Kapil Ashok, district magistrate (DM), East Champaran.

Earlier, DM Ashok had sought the help of the Geological Survey of India (GSI) officials after the Nepalese authorities last month raised objection over the fortification work being done along the embankment of the Lalbakeya river in Dhaka block in a bid to contain the flood fury.

Nepalese authorities maintained that some parts of the construction fell under their territorial jurisdiction.

The construction work for about 400 metres — between pillar number 346/5 and 346/7 — had to be suspended following Nepal’s objection.

“The joint survey team has made demarcation at certain places on the Indo-Nepal border. However, we need to wait for the report,” said Babban Singh, an engineer, who works for the state’s flood control and drainage division.

The demarcation has been put at 14 places, said local villagers.

Located about 45 kilometres (km) north-east from Motihari town, the headquarters of East Champaran district, the embankment on the Lalbakeya river starts from a railway track and stretches up to about 4.11 km along Baluwa and Guabari villages in Dhaka block on the Indo-Nepal border.

Of the 4.11-km-long embankment, 3.6 km was to be fortified before the onset of monsoon fury.

The villagers are worried about the suspension of the fortification work along the embankment.

Over a dozen villages, including Gubari, Baluwa, Bhawanipur, Heerapur, Mahuwaha, Phoolwariya, Chandanbara, Distiya, Barewa, Kusmahwa, Saratha, and Jamuwa among others, will be submerged by floodwater, if there is a breach in the embankment this monsoon.

Lalbakeya river, which traces its source in Nepal, passes through the villages of Dhaka block before it becomes a tributary of Bagmati river. The river turns swollen during monsoon because of heavy rains in adjoining hilly Nepal.

The district administration has assured all help to the panic-stricken villagers.

“All necessary fortification work will be done soon in compliance with the Central government’s guidelines,” said an official.

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