Background Information on the Laxmanpur Dam - Nepal

People seeking a safe place after the flooding due to the dams and affluxes. Photo: FIAN Nepal

The Laxmanpur Dam and Kalkalwa Afflux Bund are human-made barriers, which obstruct the natural flow of the Rapti River and two of its tributaries, thus causing the changing of the river course, resulting in annual inundation of the six Village Development Committees (VDCs): Holiya, Betahani, Gangapur, Fatepur, Mataiya and Bankatti.

Agricultural lands are not only flooded but also often totally eroded with massive river cutting. Loss of lives (human and livestock), erosion of land, damage of homes and property, crops and harvested grains are the repeated reality as a consequence. People complain the only floodgate of the Kalkalwa Afflux is neither sufficient nor adequately operated during the rainy season. Most of the farmers are affected by the severe decline in soil fertility (due to waterlogging) and subsequent decline in yield and income. Additionally, members of the communities are forced to migrate and take up labor works in Indian cities to support their families back home.

In February 2012 the Government of India had announced a budget for the construction of a 5 km embankment at one side of the Rapti River in Holiya VDC bordering to India. However, implementation is yet to happen. Moreover, there are fears that such construction on one side might encourage cutting off lands of the banks on the other side of the river. According to the Water Induced Disaster Prevention Division Office, Nepalgunj, Banke, a permanent embankment on both sides of the river Rapti covering 16km on the North side and 12km on the South side, with a total length of 28km in Nepal's territory, would be the only sustainable solution.

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Current situation

Villagers from Tepri village take shelter when the temporary embankment was washed away by the flood in 2013.

Despite some positive interventions by the government of Nepal (e.g. the distribution of temporary relief packages, the completion of data collection on loss and damage of the property in four out of six VDCs, the construction of a bridge to enable people to safely reach higher grounds during floods, and the initiative towards building an embankment to protect two villages that are at most risk), the major demands of the affected people for a sustainable long term solution remain unaddressed. A human rights impact assessment has not been carried out so far to establish the impact the dam has had on the right to adequate food of the affected communities, and to adopt all necessary measures (e.g. complete data collection of damages and losses, identification, resettlement and rehabilitation of displaced people, a declaration of "Special Zones" to implement special programs in the affected areas) to ensure remedies to the affected people.

Recent developments are threatening to further increase the flooding:  A road stretching along the border areas, with its basement serving like a dam, as well as another dam to be joined with the Kalkalwa Afflux Bund are presently under construction by the Indian government. The locals have already voiced their apprehensions over these structures further affecting Hirminiya, Piprahwa and Mastipur VDCs, as well as Nepalgunj, the district's headquarter.

On 13-14 August 2014, the area was again badly hit by floods. In the six VDCs, four people drowned, and three people are still missing (District Disaster Relief Committee, Banke, 2014).  A major safeguard initiative by the Government of Nepal, a nearly completed embankment of 700m, was completely destroyed.