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Floods: India, Nepal Trade Blame

Aug 7 2007 (TODAY)

Neighbours say each others' dams are responsible

KATHMANDU - India and Nepal blamed each other yesterday for some of the
worst flooding in South Asia in decades, which has affected 25 million
people and left rescuers scrambling to help victims.

Officials in Bihar, the Indian state worst affected by the inundation,
said neighbouring Nepal had failed to build dams to control water surging
down from the Himalayas.

But Nepal hit back immediately, claiming that Indian dams were to blame
for the flooding in Nepal.

"We can't do anything about the amount of water coming from Nepal," said
Ms Purna Kumari Subedi, Member of Parliament for Nepal's Banke district,
which borders Bihar.

"The same thing happened last year. Because of the dam constructed at
Laxmanpur on the Indian side, a lot more land on the Nepali side was
extremely flooded, affecting thousands of people," said Ms Subedi.

Nepal's foreign ministry said India could have helped to alleviate the
flooding upstream in the Himalayan kingdom. "Some of the Terai plains
areas bordering India were flooded because dams on the Indian side were
kept closed," said Mr Arjun Bahadur Thapa, Nepal's foreign ministry

In Nepal, at least 91 people have died in landslides and floods since the
beginning of June, officials said. Some 270,000 people have also been
affected, mostly in the southern plains bordering Bihar.

Over in Bihar, the flooding has affected 11.5 million people, while more
than 90 people have died in the last two weeks. The state's disaster
management chief, Mr Manoj Srivastava, said more than 6,000 villages were
submerged, but added that the waters appeared to be receding.

Meanwhile, Bihar authorities have sought federal government intervention
to tackle the issue with Nepal, claiming excessive water flow had engulfed
hundreds of villages in the Indian state that in the past had been
unaffected by flooding.

"We have written to the Prime Minister to take up the issue with the
Nepalese authorities," said Bihar's chief minister, Mr Nitish Kumar.

"Floods are an annual feature because all rivers originating in the upper
regions of the Himalayan kingdom send massive amounts of water, especially
into northern regions of the state," Mr Kumar told reporters. - AFP

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