BETTIAH: As Indo-Nepal relation is already going through rough patch on issues like Kalapani and Lipulekh, a dispute on sharing water of the Pandai river near Bhikhnathori village along Indo-Nepal border in West Champaran district of Bihar has generated a fresh heat.
The Pandai is a small river that marks the international border for a short stretch between the Chitwan National Park in Nepal and the Valmiki Tiger Reserve in India. In the heat of the pre-monsoon months, just a few streams of water can be seen trickling down the stony riverbed. Residents of over a dozen villages in Nepal and India are critically dependent on this water for their homes and to irrigate their farms.
Villagers, when they heard that a branch of this river has been blocked from Nepal side, rushed to the site and created ruckus demanding re-opening of the flow that is believe be lifeline of the adjoining Indian villages. Villagers alleged that out of three branches of Pandai one has been blocked. They said that a Nepali contractor at the behest of Nepali administration has silted the river’s subsidiaries using JCB and stones.
Rajesh Sahani, a villager told the Border News Mirror that that they would irrigate the farms and their bovines quench their thirst from the water of this river but the blockade dried up the river streams resulting in chaos in over dozen villages in the locality
As the villagers were protesting the Nepali’s highhandedness, Sashatra Seema Bal(SSB) troopers reached the site. A deputy commandant level officer assuaged the agitating villagers and assured all of them to ensure water talking their counterparts across the border.
Residents of Bhikhnathori, Dhamaura, Ekwa, Sahodara, Khairatia, Ankhawa and Bhawanipur villages along the border – in Bihar’s West Champaran district – allege that the villagers upstream in Nepal block divert the thin channels, so that in summer, they do not even get enough water to drink.