This report provides and overview of key developments in Nepal about Dams, Rivers, Environment and people in 2020, we had provided similar overview in 2019[i] too. We have divided the overview into these sections: Hydropower projects, Power Trade, Governance, River Sand Mining, Monsoon 2020 dominated by Landslide news, Climate Change, India-Nepal issues dominated by Pancheshwar and border dispute issues, Nepal China issues.
Arun-3 HEP Last year, BHEL had won an order for 900 MW Arun-3 HEP, which is presently under construction. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/bhel-bags-order-for-second-hydroelectric-project-order-in-nepal/73904581 (3 Feb. 2020)
The Financial Closure for Arun-3 HEP was achieved on Feb 6, 2020. The total debt tied up with the Banks is INR 6,333.48 cr (NPR 10,134 cr) which includes INR 1420.86 Cr (stand-by line of credit, if required). The debt portion of Indian Banks is INR 5374Cr and INR 960 Cr debt portion has been committed by Nepalese Banks. As on date, investment of around INR 875 cr has been made.
Arun-3 HEP was awarded to SJVN Limited through International Competitive Bidding by Govt of Nepal. The Memorandum of Understanding for execution of this project on BOOT basis was signed with Govt of Nepal on 2nd March 2008. SJVN Arun-3 Power Development Company (SAPDC) Pvt. Ltd. was incorporated and registered on 25th April 2013 as a private limited company under the Nepalese Companies Act 2063. The Project Development Agreement (PDA) for the execution of the project was signed between SAPDC and Investment Board of Nepal (IBN), Govt of Nepal on 25th Nov 2014. All major works i.e. Civil, Hydro-Mechanical and Electro-Mechanical works of the Project were awarded by April 2018. The foundation stone for the project was jointly laid by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India and Hon’ble Prime Minister of Nepal on 11th May 2018. http://www.psuconnect.in/news/Financial-Closure-For-SJVN-900-MW-Arun-3-HEP-Achieved/21347/ (6 Feb. 2020)
BHEL wins order for Rahughat HEP BHEL has won an order for the ElectroMechanical works for the 40 MW Rahughat Hydroelectric Project, an NEA project in Myagdi district of Nepal. The project is majority funded by EXIM Bank of India in the form of a soft loan, along with funding from NEA and the Govt. of Nepal. WAPCOS, India is the project consultant. https://www.equitybulls.com/admin/news2006/news_det.asp (3 Feb 2020)
Upper Karnali HEP: Govt undecided as GMR fails to manage funds It has been around 13 years since the govt assigned India’s GMR Group to construct the Upper Karnali Hydropower Project. However, the company is yet to manage funds for the project. Further, the govt is not decided about the future of the project. Dharmendra Mishra, the spokesperson for the Investment Board of Nepal, the extended deadline given to the company for the financial closure expired in 2018.
Until last year, the company was claiming the funds would be collected after signing a power purchase agreement with the Bangladeshi govt for the export of 500 MW power. In Oct 2019, the company had said preparations to sign the PPA were at the last stage. In Feb 2020 it said it is likely to sign the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) within three months as developer GMR has received the letter of intent (LoI) from the govt of Bangladesh on Jan 30, 2020. But now, the company says the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the project as well as preparations to sign the agreement with Bangladesh. https://english.onlinekhabar.com/govt-undecided-as-indian-company-fails-to-manage-funds-for-upper-karnali-hydro-project.html (6 Oct. 2020)
Hydro companies cheating shareholders Common people in Nepal are losing huge sums invested in hydropower projects. https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/how-hydro-companies-are-cheating-shareholders/ (17 Feb. 2020)
Indigenous people object to ADB, European bank funding for Tanahu HEP Indigenous communities affected by the Tanahu Hydropower Project have filed complaints with independent watchdogs of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) — two co-financiers of the project — requesting an independent mediation process. The communities have alleged failure to uphold free, prior and informed consent and inadequate compensation for loss of lands and livelihoods.
At least 32 affected families or landowners organized under the Directly Inundation Affected Peoples Collective Rights Protection Committee have called for ‘land for land’ and ‘house for house’ compensation, re-survey of land left out during the Detailed Measurement Survey of the project, and free, prior and informed consent in the project process, among their ten demands, they have submitted to the ADB and the EIB. The ADB, the EIB and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) have provided funding to the project. https://www.counterview.net/2020/02/hydro-project-nepals-indigenous-people.html (22 Feb 2020)
Protest against hydel Locals have launched a stir against Tanahun Hydro Power Project saying that the project at Jhaputar of Rishing Rural Municipality had failed to meet their demands. The agitators submitted a 35-point demand. Their demands include management of water from Turture khola, construction of playground according to the agreement signed with Sino Hydro Company, upgradation of local roads and compensation for felling trees, among others. https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/stir-against-tanahun-hydro-power-project/ (8 Oct. 2020)
Portrait of a dying river A photo essay shows how the Marsyangdi (means a raging river), a major river in Nepal, is slowly dying, caught in a series of dams and tunnels. About 20 km of Marsyangdi river is dry or has very little water due to operations of hydro projects during the dry season. Although Nepal’s regulations state that 10% of water should be left to flow below the dam to maintain the ecosystem, no hydro project seems to be following it.
There are already three hydro projects in operation on the river. The 69 MW Marsyangdi project in Tanahu district, the 70 MW Middle Marsyangdi project and the Upper Marsyangdi A project, a 50 MW project in Lamjung district. About six km of the river is dry downstream of the Upper Marsyangdi A dam site, for about seven km the river flows inside a tunnel below the middle Marsyangdi dam site in Lamjung district and then a stretch of about seven km is dry downstream of the dam site in Tanahu district. Eleven hydro projects have been planned on the main stream of Marsyangdi within about 140 km from its source in the Manang district to its confluence with Trisuli River in Tanahu district. Apart from the projects in operation, the govt has already issued generation licences to four more. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/2020/03/27/portrait-of-a-dying-river/ (27 March 2020)
Nepali locals, Chinese workers clash in Marsyangdi basin amid lockdown The locals in Nepal’s Marsyangdi clashed with the employers of a Chinese company constructing a hydropower plant in Lamjung. The villagers protested the movement of trucks carrying construction materials of Nyadi Hydropower Project based at Thulobesi in Marsyangi Rural Municipality-6 of Lamjung district, a local online media portal, Khabarhub reported.
The locals were agitated as the workers had just returned from China. However, when two trucks used for transporting construction materials of the hydropower plant tried to enter their village by removing the blockage, the irate youths came out in protest. Nepali news portal Khabarhub added that the Chinese retaliated by picking up the indigenous dagger ‘Khukuris’ to intimidate the locals. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/go-back-clashes-erupt-between-nepali-locals-chinese-workers-amid-lockdown/articleshow/74913551.cms (31 March 2020)
One of the two loaders have been damaged by the enraged villagers in the incident. According to a local employee of the hydropower project, Bishnu Raj Ghimire, both Nepali and Chinese nationals working for the project have not left their homes in fear of the locals. Reconciliation between the two sides was being attempted. https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/locals-hydropower-project-employees-clash-during-lockdown-in-lamjung/ (31 March 2020)
This aggressive and rude attitude of the Chinese needs to be seen in the backdrop of an incident last year when a large number of Nepali workers were sent back from Taklakot in Tibet because a Nepali worker had murdered a Chinese woman. More than 500 Nepalese workers were sent back during that period just because one of them had committed a crime. Nepali workers had then protested saying why should all of them suffer because of a single person’s misdeed. https://english.khabarhub.com/2020/31/86030/ (31 March 2020)
Trishuli Cumulative Impact Assessment by IFC The World Bank’s International Finance Corp (IFC) has released recommendations of its Cumulative Impact Assessment (CIA) of the Trishuli River Basin (TRB). The study was a part of the World Bank’s approval of the $650 million 216 MW Upper Trishuli-1 Hydro Project (UT-1), in the upstream of the Trishuli Basin. IFC assessed the potential impacts of the hydropower project over a one-year period with the assistance of the govts of Nepal, Australia, Norway & Japan. There are over 36 hydropower projects in various stages of development or planning in the TRB, which covers an area of 32,000 sq km. https://www.powerengineeringint.com/renewables/hydroelectric/ifc-study-assesses-human-and-environmental-impact-of-nepal-hydropower-project/ (31 July 2020)
Urja developers and IFC sign an early stage project agreement Urja Developers Pvt. Ltd signed an Early Stage Project Services Agreement with the International Finance Corp (IFC), a member of the World bank Group, on Dec 18, 2020. Managing Director of Urja Bhanu Pokharel and the IFC Country Manager for Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan Wendy Jo Werner signed the agreement to this effect. The company aims to develop 1 GW through hydropower and other renewable energy sources by 2030.
So far, Urja and its subsidiaries have established a portfolio of 350 MW total capacity as small and medium hydropower projects, at varying development phases since its incorporation four years ago. Of those, Mai Beni (9.51 MW) and Lower Jogmai (6.2 MW) are expected to be commissioned by mid 2021. Another company within the Urja group, Mewa Developers Pvt. Ltd. has begun the construction of a 49 MW Peaking Run-of-River Middle Mewa Hydropower Project in Taplejung. https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/urja-developers-and-ifc-sign-an-early-stage-project-agreement/ (19 Dec. 2020)
Arun River in Sankhuwasabha partially dammed by landslide In Rasuwa, floods in the Bhotekoshi river damaged the under-construction dry port and Rasuwagadhi Hydropower Project in Gosaikunda Rural Municipality on Sunday (June 21) morning. According to Deputy Superintendent of Police, the floods damaged three vehicles and living quarters of the workers at the dry port construction site. The flooded river also damaged a bridge at the project site of the hydel project. https://kathmandupost.com/province-no-1/2020/06/22/arun-river-in-sankhuwasabha-partially-dammed-by-landslide (22 June 2020)
Flood damages Middle Bhotekoshi HEP The 102 MW Middle Bhotekoshi Hydroelectric Project in Sindhupalchowk district, already delayed by half a decade, is very likely to miss the revised deadline as it was hit by the rain-triggered floods on July 8, 2020 night. The flood in the Bhotekoshi River inundated the powerhouse while sweeping away a number of equipment. The damage is estimated to be worth billions of rupees. The dam is severely damaged and the warehouse is covered under landslide debris. https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/flood-damages-middle-bhotekoshi-hydroelectric-project-production-date-likely-to-be-deferred-further/ (9 July 2020)
Landslide due to explosion at under construction HEP The explosion during the tunnel construction under the 26 MW Balefi-A Hydro Project has loosened earth. In the application submitted to the committee, it is mentioned that over 500 houses at Nampha, Sanchagaun, Lidi, Jhulke, Nimlung and Baigang are at risk of landslide. https://nepal24hours.com/lidi-nepal-landslide-four-injured-rescued-to-kathmandu-on-helicopter/ (14 Aug. 2020)
Kpowernet bags contract for Hongu Khola HEP Kumpulan Powernet Bhd has secured a contract worth USD 46.2 million for a hydropower project at Mahakulung VDC. Its wholly owned subsidiary KPower International Ltd received a letter of award from Apex Makalu Hydro Power Pvt Ltd for the 22 MW Mid Hongu Khola A hydropower project. https://steelguru.com/power/kpowernet-bags-contract-for-hongu-khola-a-hydropower-project-in-nepal/562983
Financial closure of Seti Nadi Hydroelectric Project NMB Bank has executed financial closure of 25 MW Seti Nadi HEP, being developed by Vision Lumbini Urja Company, located at Machhapuchchhre Rural Municipality and Pokhara-Lekhnath Metropolitan City, Kaski, Gandaki Province of Nepal. https://thehimalayantimes.com/business/financial-closure-of-seti-nadi-hydroelectric-project/ (16 Oct. 2020)
Covid-19 impacts hydro projects Key facts here:
– About 1,000 MW from 50 new power plants was due to be added to the system this year alone. But this was before the Covid-19 pandemic hit Nepal. “It has now dropped to about 355 MW,” said Prabal Adhikari, a spokesperson at the NEA. Power demand across the country has dropped to 15 million units (MU) per day from 21 MU before the lockdown.
– Since March 2020, two small power plants with a generation capacity of 8 MW have shut down due to lack of spare parts as supply chains have been disrupted. “It has also become impossible to dispatch technicians due to the lockdown. Many more power plants may shut down soon,” said Surya Prasad Adhikari, executive chairman of Barahi Hydropower.
– In the next few years, 131 hydropower projects with generation capacity of 2,490 MW will be added to the national grid. There is currently about 7,000 MW projects under construction or in the pipeline about to achieve financial closure. The private sector, which contributes nearly half of the country’s energy supply, is unhappy with the govt.
– The question is whether Nepal will be able to sell electricity in the competitive Indian market, where energy costs are lower. In March 2020, electricity rates per unit in India fell to about INR 2.49 (USD 0.033) due to low demand caused by the lockdown. The current rate in Nepal is more than INR 5 (USD 0.066) in the wet season, when Nepal has more energy to sell. https://www.thethirdpole.net/2020/06/04/covid-19-threatens-to-plunge-nepals-power-sector-back-into-dark-ages/ (4 June 2020)
Micro hydro plants destined for oblivion in rural Nepal Strange that Nepal has stopped operating even existing micro hydro plants, as per this report. https://kathmandupost.com/money/2020/09/02/micro-hydro-plants-which-lighted-up-rural-nepal-destined-for-oblivion (2 Sept. 2020)
POWER TRADE In a virtual discussion between the concerned bodies with the Ministry of Energy of Nepal and India, the Indian side said that it was willing to buy Nepal’s surplus electricity. NEA has asked the Indian side to make a proposal and necessary preparations for the purchase of electricity within three months. NEA states Nepal will have surplus electricity after the completion of 456 MW Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Project, expected within the current fiscal year. NEA has met the domestic demand by importing 1720 MU from India out of a total of 7740 MU consumed in 2019-20. The value of electricity imported from India is Rs 13.58 B. https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/india-sends-a-positive-signal-to-purchase-electricity-from-nepal/ (Nov 29, 2020)
Close to finalizing regulatory modality for power trade Nepal and India are close to finalizing the regulatory modality for allowing Nepali power producers access to the Indian power market, according to the statement of the 8th joint steering committee meeting on cooperation in power sector held on Dec 11 2020. The statement said that once the regulatory modality is finalized and signed between the two countries, it would provide an outlet for Nepal’s surplus power in the coming months. The power and energy secretaries of Nepal and India co-chaired the meeting. https://tkpo.st/3a2bSgw (11 Dec. 2020)
Nepal to export 30 MW electricity to India Nepal hopes to export 30 MW power to India during June-Nov 2021. The final decision on price has not been made. https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/nepal-to-export-30-mw-electricity-to-india/ (20 Dec. 2020)
Nepal exported a billion Nepali rupees power to India in last fiscal Nepal has exported electricity worth almost one billion Nepali rupees to India in 2019-20, according to a Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) report. Nepal was able to export electricity worth 95.7 cr Nepali rupees to India as per a power deal signed by the two countries. Nepal was able to send 107 MU last year. In 2015-16, Nepal exported 3.1 MU of electricity, 2.69 MU in 2016-17, 2.94 MU in 2017-18, 34.7 MU in 2018-19. Nepal and India previously had a capacity to ferry 350 MW electricity using the trans-border connectivity line, which has been expanded to 1,500 MW. https://energy.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/power/nepal-exports-electricity-worth-a-billion-nepali-rupees-to-india-in-last-fiscal/77865229 (1 Sept. 2020)
River Governance Writes Rajesh Sada, WWF Freshwater lead in Napal: “Although preparations are being made, only the implementation of these plans will ensure the successful conservation of our rivers. While rivers fall under the purview of the Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation, it is focused primarily on using water for hydropower and irrigation. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Forests and Environment responsible for the protection of rivers is mainly focused on conserving forests and protected areas. While the Department of National Park and Wildlife Conservation protects rivers within Protected Areas (PA), there is no government institution in place to oversee river systems outside protected areas. This raises the question of who the custodian of these rivers is. Furthermore, assessing the health of the rivers to strategically identify rivers that need protection measures should become a top priority. Efforts also need to be made to determine and declare rivers with the highest conservation value as protected areas.” https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/mission-river-conservation/ (2 Feb 2020)
Environment Impact non-Assessments Compared to the legendary achievements of Indian EIAs (particularly of dams and hydropower projects) these seem like small crimes, but still sample this: “The environmental assessment of the Isuwa Cascade Hydropower Project in Sankhuwasabha district in the mountains of northeast Nepal says the pangolins in the area have the scientific name Salacca zalacca, which is actually a species of palm tree found in Indonesia. The report has also recorded Mustela nivalis, a type of weasel never found in Nepal before, and the Lesser florican, a grassland bird species found in the Tarai.”
“They show not just a fundamental deficiency in zoological knowledge, but a reckless disregard for the importance of EIAs in ensuring minimal environmental damage in Nepal’s infrastructure projects. Careful assessments help build a solid base for preventive and mitigation measures. This throws the entire credibility of the EIA process in doubt, and shows that the reports are seen just a formality and those doing the study do not value the importance of their work in protecting Nepal’s biodiversity” writes Yadav Ghimirey, a conservation biologist affiliated with Friends of Nature. https://www.nepalitimes.com/latest/nepals-environment-impact-non-assessments/ (1 May 2020)
Previously unknown faults at the foot of the Himalaya discovered Data from an oil and gas exploration company has now helped geologists discover a series of faults at the foot of the Himalaya. The international team notes that this fault system in the southeastern region of Nepal has the potential to cause earthquakes. The team looked at seismic reflection data, which are routinely collected by exploration companies looking for oil and gas. In this method, seismic waves are produced by small explosions at multiple sources, and many recorders called geophones record the sound echoing off layers beneath the surface. https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/previously-unknown-faults-at-the-foot-of-the-himalaya-discovered/article32125385.ece (18 July 2020)
RIVER SAND MINING
Youth crushed to death by tipper for protesting illegal mining When 24-year-old Dilip Kumar Mahato of Sripur in Dhanusha’s Mithila Municipality protested illegal sand mining from Aurahi river near his house, the sand miners first threatened him, then tried to bribe him. When Dilip did not back down, they killed him in early hours on January 10, 2020 under the wheels of the truck. Following the incident, locals obstructed the East-West Highway protesting Dilip’s murder. https://kathmandupost.com/province-no-2/2020/01/10/youth-crushed-to-death-by-tipper-for-protesting-illegal-extraction-of-riverbed-materials-in-dhanusa (10 Jan. 2020)
Mahakali contractors Under the new Nepali Constitution of 2015, the local govt at the municipal level have received the authority to collecting and sell river resources. They need to give a certain amount of revenue to the provincial govt. The local govts have outsourced this to contractors, and this forms the main source of income for the local govt. This, though, is now changing as local govts have started hiring contractors for the jobs of collecting stones, pebbles and sands, and fishing. With the loss of income has also come rampant criminality and over-exploitation.
The Mahakali municipality has announced a call for tender, and the Bhimdatta municipality has already hired contractors. The Bhimdatta municipality has given authority to Bhawani Construction to collect stones, pebbles and sands, and to collect revenues from others who collect the river resources.
According to ‘Environment Conservation Regulation-1997′ (ECR-1997) stones, pebbles and sands can be collected from the river only after an Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) report is carried out. Bhimdatta Municipality has prepared such a report. The Mahakali municipality – which covers Nepali lands on the next side of Mahakali River – has not prepared the IEE report. The Regulation directs that upto 250 cubic meters of sands and pebbles can be collected everyday once the IEE report is prepared. While collecting materials no machines like excavator can be used, they should be collected manually.
The company hired by the Municipality has not limited itself to collect only to 250 cubic meters of river resources as recommended by the ECR-1997. It needs an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report to collect more than 250 cubic meters of sands and pebbles. Without an EIA this is no understanding of what bit can be exploited safely, and which part of the river system will be endangered. No one has monitored the work to see what amount of river resources are collected every day, how they have been collected, what kind of machines or equipment have been used, what measures have been taken to minimise risks for labour.
River resources have been exploited on both sides of the river, due to which river banks are deepening, and the middle parts of the river are raised like islands. The river water is now flowing from low lying banks of the river. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/2020/02/03/on-the-mahakali-contractors-move-in-to-eat-the-river/ (3 Feb. 2020)
MONSOON 2020: Landslides, Earthquake affected area, Heavy rains, govt apathy
Highest fatality rate worsened by Govt actions Despite having the highest fatality rate in the world relative to population, Nepal’s authorities have failed to face up to landslide risks, with haphazard road building and climate change making things worse. “Between 1972 and 2016 a total of 5,190 people lost their lives in 3,419 landslide events on record,” Basanta Raj Adhikari, an engineering geologist at the Institute of Engineering in Nepal’s Tribhuvan University said.
Since 2017 (after the time period studied in Adhikari’s research paper), an additional 490 people have been killed by landslides, according to recent govt data. This year alone, 243 have died and 51 are missing. This is the second highest of confirmed casualties on record in the past 10 years, and nearly three times higher than 2019.
A report by Dept of Water Induced Disaster Management – the authority that used be responsible for dealing with landslides which was scrapped in July – supports this claim. The report reads, “Although huge amounts of funds have been invested every year in disaster management, landslides are not treated as one of the important parameters during the planning and designing stage. Even if treated, it is done without detailed study and investigation, which further enhances the problem.”
According to a 2011 report by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, Nepal has one of the highest fatalities from landslides in the world. “Between 1950 and 2009, the frequency of fatal landslides was highest in China, followed by Indonesia, India, the Philippines, Japan, Pakistan and Nepal. These seven countries accounted for 87% of the 17,830 landslide-related fatalities reported during that time period in Asia,” the report said. https://www.thethirdpole.net/hi/2020/09/14/why-are-landslides-so-deadly-in-nepal/ (14 Sept. 2020)
NYT reports on Landslides Landslides set off in hilly Sindhupalchok district of Nepal by heavy rainfall this weekend killed at least 11 people and left many more missing in a hilly region that borders Tibet, officials said, bringing a renewed crisis to an area that was hit hard by a devastating 2015 earthquake. 20 people from the village of Barhabise were missing on Sunday after the landslides, which washed away 28 homes in the region on Saturday night, leaving rescuers racing to find survivors and dig them out.
“Cracks developed by the previous earthquakes are now reactivated after this season’s rainfall,” said Basanta Raj Adhikari, an assistant professor of geology at Tribhuvan University of Nepal. “Because of this, people living in risky areas like Sindhupalchok are losing their lives to landslides.” Mr. Adhikari said that fragile mountain geography had been destabilized in the earthquakes and that the use of heavy equipment to build roads on steep slopes had exacerbated the problem.
In mid-August, 36 people died after being buried under a huge landslide in the nearby village of Lidi. Thirty-seven homes built on steep slopes were wiped out. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/13/world/asia/nepal-landslides.html (13 Sept. 2020)
A landslide caused in part by unusually heavy rain in a district of Nepal bordering China buried dozens of homes early Friday, killing at least 11 people and leaving 27 others missing, officials said. Some of the homes lost had been rebuilt after Nepal’s devastating 2015 quake. 37 homes in the village, which consists of about 150 houses built on a steep slope, were buried, and a few were swept away.
Officials said that both the amount of rain and the death toll from landslides so far this season had been unprecedented. Nearly 200 people are known to have been killed this year, with more than 40 missing. The district of Sindhupalchok, which includes Lidi, sees frequent landslides.
“But we cannot just blame nature — the way we developed our infrastructures, particularly roads in quake-destabilized fragile landscapes, is causing frequent cases of landslides,” said Anil Pokhrel, chief executive of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/14/world/asia/nepal-landslides.html (14 Sept. 2020)
Landslides in earthquake affected area The landslide on Sept. 13 swept three villages before the slide stopped at a river. Continuous rainfall had made it difficult for rescuers. Homes and people were swept away in Bahrabise, 100km (62 miles) east of Kathmandu near the border with the Tibet region of China, Nepalese govt official said.
The village and the surrounding area were among the regions worst hit by Nepal’s devastating 2015 earthquake and reconstruction work had been continuing when the landslide struck. The torrential rain, which caused a foothill to collapse, destroyed more than 100 houses in Bahrabise. At least 111 people remain missing and 160 have been injured. The latest fatalities took the death toll from landslides and flash floods in the June-September monsoon season to 314. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/09/dead-missing-landslides-nepal-200913161520649.html (14 Sept. 2020)
Dave Petley on High Fatal landslides in Nepal this monsoon Dave Petley blog shows that the number of fatal landslides and fatalities in Nepal have gone up this monsoon already. Petley has written repeatedly on this subject during 2020 South West Monsoon.
https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2020/07/24/nepal-2020/ (24 July 2020)
Nepal’s landslide information system comes in for praise from Dave Petley: “Very few countries have a publicly accessible database of disaster information of this quality. Nepal deserves great credit for this.” https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2020/07/28/mapping-landslides-in-nepal/ (28 July 2020)
June 22:Landslide in Palpa buries four, three killed A landslide swept away four vehicles at Sammobari along the Tansen-Ridi road section in Palpa district on June 21. At least two bodies have been recovered from the incident site while one person, who was found seriously injured in the incident site, died. The landslide occurred six km from the district headquarters Tansen and buried a tanker, a jeep, a mini truck and a car. The number of passengers in the vehicles swept by the landslide is unconfirmed. https://kathmandupost.com/province-no-5/2020/06/22/landslide-buries-four-vehicles-in-palpa-two-bodies-recovered (22 June 2020)
July 12: Floods, landslides kill over 40 Torrential rainfall for three days has triggered floods and landslides in different parts of Nepal, claiming more than 40 lives and displacing thousands of families in western Nepal. Narayani and other major rivers have swollen. Twenty-seven people were killed and at least 13 others were missing in landslides in Myagdi district, 200 km northwest of Kathmandu, where several houses were destroyed.
– In neighboring Kaski district, seven people were killed.
– At least nine people lost lives while six others were still missing in Jajarkot district.
– Six people were killed in Gulmi, Lamjung and Sindhupalchowk in central Nepal.
– Nine people died after a landslide swept away two houses in Barekot-4, Sarkigaun. Three people are still missing. Two people seriously injured in the incidents of floods and landslides have been rescued and airlifted to Nepalgunj. https://countercurrents.org/2020/07/floods-landslides-kill-more-than-40-in-nepal-many-missing-thousands-displaced/ (12 July 2020)
July 16: Rs 4 B of damages to roads and hydro projects The massive landslides and floods caused by the incessant rainfall have damaged physical infrastructure related to roads, bridges and hydropower projects worth around Rs 4 B so far in the 2020 monsoon.
The torrential heavy rain and landslides have disrupted the power generation of almost 500 MW from different hydropower projects worth around Rs 2.73 billion. According to the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), some projects of the NEA and private sector failed to produce energy due to floods. NEA’s projects of 240 MW and private sector’s projects generating 250 MW were hit. Prabal Adhikari, spokesperson for NEA, said the power production, transmission and supply system across the country were badly affected. He added that NEA’s powerhouses were generating just 40 % of their capacity. Country’s largest Kaligandaki ‘A’ Hydropower Project of 144 MW has been closed since Friday as the water level rose in the Kaligandaki River. However, the project officials were able to resume the power supply from Tuesday. Similarly, powerhouses of 70 MW Mid-Marsyangdhi Project, 16 MW Trishuli and 14 MW Devighat of Trishuli are closed. https://thehimalayantimes.com/business/around-rs-4-billion-worth-of-damages-to-roads-and-hydro-projects/ (July 16, 2020)
July 17 Landslides Three children of the same family died after they were buried under the debris of a landslide in Machhapuchhre Rural Municipality-8 of Kaski, on July 17, 2020. https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/three-of-a-family-died-as-landslide-burries-their-house-in-kaski/
A landslide reoccurred at Pulpingkatti in Bhotekoshi rural municipality-4 on July 16, 2020. Two people of a same family died and three went missing. https://english.khabarhub.com/2020/17/112875/
July 19-21: Heavy rains This year’s vigorous monsoon in Nepal has left at least 116 dead and 50 missing in landslides and floods, with Gandaki Province hardest hit by heavier than usual rainfall. Nawalparasi district in Gandaki Province received 312 mm of rain between July 19-21, 2020 with July 20 registering 157mm in 24 hours. Bara district in the central Tarai recorded the highest precipitation in the period with 324mm of rain, and parts of Kaski district got 312mm.
According to the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology, Nepal has received 736mm of rain since the start of the monsoon in mid-June – nearly 150mm more than the average for the same time period. Kaski and the mountains of central Nepal as well as the eastern districts have the highest annual precipitation in Nepal with 3,500mm. There have been many cloudburst events.
On July 20 China officially informed Nepal that the Kerung Tso glacial lake near Khasa in Tibet was in danger of bursting, and the district administration in Sindhupalchok warned people to move to higher ground in the Bhote Kosi and sun Kosi Valleys. However, on July 22 the authorities downgraded the warning after the rains tapered off. The Bhote Kosi has seen frequent glacial lake outburst floods after lakes on the Chinese side of the Himalaya have burst during the monsoon. The last one was after the earthquake in Aug 2015. https://www.nepalitimes.com/latest/heavier-than-usual-monsoon-in-nepal/ (22 July 2020)
July 27: Landslide blocks key road in Nepal for the last five days. https://myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com/news/road-to-rasuwagadhi-border-point-obstructed-for-past-five-days/ (27 July 2020)
Three died, seven missing in separate landslides triggered by incessant rains at Kalikot and Rukum (West) dist on July 27, 2020. https://kathmandupost.com/province-no-5/2020/07/28/three-die-seven-missing-in-separate-landslides-in-kalikot-and-rukum-west
Aug 3: 10 killed in Sindhupalchok landslides 8 killed, one injured after a landslide buried an under-construction covered hall at Melamchi Municipality in Sindhupalchok dist early Aug 3, 2020. At least 24 incidents of landslides have been reported in the dist since Aug 2 night, in which 300 families have been displaced, as per the District Disaster Management Committee. https://kathmandupost.com/province-no-3/2020/08/03/four-killed-and-four-missing-in-a-landslide-in-melamchi-sindhupalchok (3 Aug. 2020)
NASA: Climate change could trigger more landslides in Asia More frequent and intense rainfall events due to climate change could cause more landslides in the High Mountain Asia region of China, Tibet and Nepal, according to the first quantitative study (by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center) of the link between precipitation and landslides in the region. In summer 2019, monsoon flooding and landslides in Nepal, India and Bangladesh displaced more than 7 million people. Most significantly, the study concluded, the border region of China and Nepal could see a 30-70% increase in landslide activity. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/02/200211121512.htm (11 Feb. 2020)
The NASA study uses new techniques to predict how climate change will change landslide patterns in the glacier-covered Himalayan regions. The first quantitative study of its kind to link rainfall and landslides predicts that landslides will rise by 30-70% on the China-Nepal border. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/2020/04/21/himalayas-will-see-dramatic-rise-in-landslides-by-end-of-the-century/ (21 April 2020)
Risky water future The first detailed climate assessment for the Western Nepal predicts that risks on water supplies, farmers and communities will be more severe than thought earlier. Himalayas has been recognised as Climate Change hot spot, within that W Nepal is even more vulnerable because of both its biophysical features and the low capacity of its people to adapt. The new research indicates that the highest temperature changes will take place in the mountains, while the greatest fluctuations in precipitation will affect the lower hills & Terai plains.
The Coordinated Regional Downscaling Experiment for South Asia (CORDEX-SA) is building Regional Climate Models (RCMs) that represent South Asia at a finer scale. IWMI examined predictions from 19 of the COREX-SA RCMs at near-, mid-, and far-future scenarios. They then compared the results with trends observed in climate data gathered over the past half-century by the Nepal govt. And finally, where gaps existed in the data collected by the first two methods, the team interviewed people to gather their perceptions on how the climate had changed over their lifetimes.
The change would vary even within the region’s different geographical areas. The monsoon was forecast to become wetter in the mountains but drier on the hills & plains, with more extreme climate events affecting both. This suggests that water scarcity could become a pressing issue in the Terai, while faster-melting glaciers from rising temperatures would be the main climate challenge in the mountains. Results from other studies have shown that glacier area already decreased by 25% throughout Nepal, during 1980-2010. https://www.thethirdpole.net/en/2020/03/22/a-risky-water-future-for-western-nepal/ (22 March 2020)
Climate migrant struggle to survive Pushed out of their village by a drought and lack of food, a group of Nepalis are fighting to amplify the voices of those forced to relocate by the planet’s warming. Climate change is remaking the Himalayan region, putting at risk millions of South Asians who depend on its water resources and pushing mountain dwellers in northern Nepal, home to the world’s highest peaks, to build new settlements at lower altitudes.
Glacial melt has accelerated in the 1,500-mile-long Himalayas. Land once used for growing vegetables has become barren. Yak herders say they are struggling to find grazing patches for their animals. Scientists have found that rising temperatures could spread malaria and dengue to new areas of the Himalayas, where mosquitoes have started to appear in the highlands. If we overlay significantly changed rain and river flow patterns, it will be a mess for people depending on Asia’s big rivers for irrigation and drinking water.
Ayshanie Medagangoda-Labé, the United Nations Development Program’s representative for Nepal said: “Nepal is ground zero for the impacts of climate change. As a country with one of the most fragile ecosystems — the Himalayas — and an economy that is heavily reliant on favorable climate conditions, Nepal is probably one of the most exposed.” The number of climate change migrants in Nepal’s Himalayas is unknown, though local officials in mountain towns estimate it to be in the thousands.
More than a decade ago, the village’s families gathered for a meeting to ponder a heavy question: Should they stay? By the end of the meeting, 17 of 26 families, about 90 people, vowed to leave. The leavers have trickled out of Dhye in groups over the past few years. They strapped bundles of food and clothing to their backs and hiked nearly a mile down to the banks of a still-flowing stream. They called their new community Dhye Khola, a local name for the water body. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/05/world/asia/nepal-himalayas-glacier-climate.html (5 April 2020)
Why more women die in natural disaster The conclusion is that “Women bear the brunt of most disasters like floods, earthquakes and landslides in Nepal because the countryside has been ‘feminised’ by the outmigration of men. And it is the women who tend to be inside the house more often than men”. In addition, “women have less access to information and seldom participate in disaster learning skills. Socio-cultural perceptions of sexuality and traditional beliefs about gender responsibility also put women at greater risk in disasters.” https://www.nepalitimes.com/here-now/why-more-women-die-in-nepals-natural-disasters/ (5 Oct. 2020)
Melting Himalayan Glaciers Threaten Domestic Water Resources Retreating glaciers and snowpack loss threaten high-altitude communities that rely upon seasonal melt for domestic water resources. But the extent to which such communities are vulnerable is not yet understood, largely because melt contribution to water supplies is rarely quantified at the catchment scale. The Khumbu Valley, Nepal is a highly glaciated catchment with elevations ranging from 2,000 to 8,848 m above sea level, where more than 80% of annual precipitation falls during the summer monsoon from June to September. Samples were collected from the rivers, tributaries, springs, and taps along the major trekking route between Lukla and Everest Base Camp in the pre-monsoon seasons of 2016–2017.
Results indicate that between 34 and 90% of water comes from melt during the dry, pre-monsoon season, with an average meltwater contribution of 65%. With as much as two-thirds of the dry-season domestic water supply at risk, the communities of the Khumbu Valley are extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change as glaciers retreat and snowpack declines. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/feart.2020.00128/full (29 April 2020)
Glacial lakes become more deadly as Himalayan ice melts New research has found that more glacial lakes in the Himalayas are forming, of which 47 are critically dangerous and could burst, flooding downstream areas in Nepal, China and India.
“Altogether, 3,624 glacial lakes were mapped in the Koshi, Gandaki and Karnali river basins of Nepal, China and India. “Of these, 1,410 lakes are equal to or larger than 0.02 sq km, which are large enough to cause serious damage downstream if they burst.
“However, 47 are the most dangerous ones that need immediate mitigation action,” said Sudan Bikash Maharjan, one of the authors of the report, which was jointly produced by the International Centre of Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and United Nations Development Programme in Nepal. Of the 47 lakes, 25 are in the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China, 21 in Nepal and one in India. https://www.thethirdpole.net/hi/2020/09/29/glacial-lakes-become-more-deadly-as-himalayan-ice-melts/ (29 Sept. 2020)
India-China-Nepal strains could hinder climate research in Himalayas The paucity of scientific cooperation was revealed in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 4th assessment report, released in 2007. The report identified the whole Himalayan region as a black hole for data, with no consistent long-term monitoring in a region warming much faster than the global average. After the report was published, the countries of the region committed to cooperate on research to quantify the impacts of climate change. But there has been little action over the past decade. In 2014, when the IPCC released its 5th assessment report, the same problems remained. https://scroll.in/article/966415/tensions-between-india-china-and-nepal-could-hinder-climate-research-in-the-himalayas (5 July 2020)
Shadow on proposed Pancheshwar dam project The discussion between two countries is now stuck around existing and future usage of water from the Mahakali River. Last meeting happened in Nov 2019 when UP Singh, Secretary, MoWR travelled to Nepal. According to hydrological studies, the Mahakali has an average annual water availability of 18 billion cubic metres (bcm), of which 13 bcm is currently being used. India is drawing 12 bcm while Nepal is drawing 1 bcm.
India draws 7 bcm of its 12 bcm from the upper Sarada barrage located on the India-Nepal border, for irrigation in Uttar Pradesh. The remaining 5 bcm comes from the lower Sarada barrage, which is 150 km downstream on the Indian side. “Our contention is that this 5 bcm should be part of India’s existing usage. But Nepal wants this to be treated as part of India’s future usage (once the dam is built),” the official quoted earlier said. “If the 5 bcm becomes part of future usage, India will effectively not get anything when the dam comes up.”
India’s stand is that when the dam comes up, of the remaining 5 bcm water available for use, Nepal’s share should be 3 bcm while the remaining 2 bcm should come to India. “Nepal is objecting to this, saying the 5 bcm India is drawing from the lower Sharada barrage should be part of India’s future usage, taking its total to 12 bcm. While Nepal should get the remaining 5 bcm,” the official added. “It’s only after the water sharing issue is settled that we can move ahead and discuss issues like where to arrange funding for the project and the share of each country, etc.,” the ministry official added. https://theprint.in/india/india-nepal-friction-casts-shadow-on-proposed-pancheshwar-multipurpose-dam-project/452200/ (1 July 2020)
The Pancheshwar Dam affected due to controversy on Kalapani border. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/will-strategically-important-pancheshwar-dam-bear-brunt-of-india-nepal-tensions/articleshow/75902707.cms (23 May 2020)
Pancheshwar Dam Nepal, India fail to meet again It has been 21 months since Nepal and India last held a joint meeting to discuss outstanding issues related to the Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project. However, the two govts are clueless about when they will meet next. It has been over 25 years since the project was conceptualised, but up to now, they have not yet finalised the detailed project report.
The last joint meeting of expert groups between two countries was held in Kathmandu in Feb 2019. Now, it is New Delhi’s turn to host the meeting. But, it is not certain when it will take place. A member of Nepal’s Water and Energy Commission says the escalated border dispute between the two countries might have affected the meeting schedule. Nonetheless, a meeting of the governing body of the project was held in Nov 2019. The governing body does not discuss outstanding issues except some administrative affairs. https://english.onlinekhabar.com/21-months-on-nepal-india-fail-to-meet-again-on-pancheshwar.html (23 Nov. 2020)
Mahakali irrigation project doubtful As per the Mahakali agreement between India and Nepal, Nepal is entitled to get 1,000 Cusecs water from Tanakpur and the Project has the target of irrigating 33,000 ha up to Malakheti of Kailali. However, the Indian side is not ready to give irrigation water to Mahakali Municipality (Dodhara Chandani) as per the terms of the treaty.
“It is the unofficial view of the Indian side that they would give water to Dodhara Chandani only after the construction of Pancheshwar Hydroelectricity Project. It is almost eight years since Nepal submitted the detailed project report of Pancheshwar to India. Still, India has not done anything in that regard,” Director of Mahakali Irrigation Project (third phase), Prachanda Dev Bishta added. A secretary level meeting of both countries including water resource experts had decided to settle the topic of giving water to Nepal from Sharada canal through consensus within six months. This deadline has been over around nine months ago. https://thehimalayantimes.com/nepal/after-24-years-mahakali-irrigation-project-still-doubtful/ (20 May 2020)
Along the Koshi, flooded in Nepal, ignored by India This is the first story in a three-part series on flooding in the Kosi-Ganga-Padma river basin across three countries, Nepal, India and Bangladesh.
Under the Koshi Agreement, signed between the govts of Nepal & India in 1954, Bihar is responsible for preventing floods in the area affected by the Koshi Project, roughly 150 kms of embankments built along the river in India and Nepal to prevent floods.
Before the June-Sep monsoon every year, the Bihar govt sends officials to Nepal to install “cement porcupines” – concrete poles joined with nuts and bolts – and pile up nylon bags on the riverbank to slow down the flow of the water. However, by and large, it has failed to inspire local trust because Indian engineers do not consult them or their representatives. Nepali officials claim this has resulted in short-sighted solutions, and means the task has to be repeated almost every monsoon. https://www.thethirdpole.net/hi/2020/08/13/along-the-koshi-flooded-in-nepal-ignored-by-india/ (13 Aug. 2020)
Part 2. https://www.thethirdpole.net/hi/2020/08/14/flooded-by-corruption-every-year-in-bihar/ (14 Aug. 2020)
Death comes before justice for Koshi flood victims in Nepal In 1968, the Koshi river swept away hundreds of homes, destroying land and livelihoods, yet generations later villagers in Nepal’s Sunsari district are still waiting for help from the Indian & Nepali govts. https://www.thethirdpole.net/2020/11/10/death-comes-before-justice-for-koshi-flood-victims-in-nepal/ (10 Nov. 2020)
UP CM complains to PM 11 new flood prevention projects worth ₹53.64 crore could not be executed before the current flood season on the Indo-Nepal border as Nepal did not provide permission for implementation in its geographical area due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Uttar Pradesh govt said on Aug 10, 2020. The statement comes as 582 villages in 19-20 districts of UP remained affected by floods, with 303 of them marooned despite a 15% below normal rainfall so far, as per the State Relief Commissioner. Till date, 1.04 lakh families (5.75 lakh persons), in 19 districts, 76,623 animals and 38, 248 ha farmland were affected by the UP floods. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/11-anti-flood-projects-stalled-by-nepal-yogi-tells-pm-modi/article32318433.ece (10 Aug 2020)
नेपाल ने ….. नदी का बहाव रोक दिया This details how ongoing tense relationships between India and Nepal has impacted water releases from rivers and maintenance of water sources:
नेपाल ने गंडक नदी के इस पार सुस्ता गांव में पुल निर्माण शुरू किया। भारत ने आपत्ति जताई तो निर्माण बीच में ही रोकना पड़ा। नरकटियागंज के भिखनाठोड़ी में एक जलस्रोत राेक दिया, ताकि एसएसबी के जवान परेशान हों। इनका कैंप जलस्रोत से 50 मीटर दूर है। यहां बोरिंग से पानी आता है। हालांकि, पानी बंद होने से आम लोगों काे परेशानी हो रही है।
जून के शुरू में वाल्मीकिनगर में त्रिवेणी घाट के पास बांध मरम्मत का नेपाल ने विरोध किया। भारत के कड़े रुख और एसएसबी के दखल से मामला शांत है। लेकिन स्लुइस गेट का निर्माण ठप है। पूर्वी चंपारण में बलुआ के पास बांध मरम्मत का काम नेपाल ने रोक दिया। नो मेंस लैंड पार कर ऊंचाई बढ़ाने का आरोप लगाया। जबकि, यहां वर्षाें से बांध है।
सीतामढ़ी के बैरगनिया के पास भी बांध निर्माण पर तनातनी है। सीतामढ़ी से भिट्ठामोड़ जा रही सड़क पर नवाहीं गांव के पास एप्रोच रोड पर नेपाल ने विरोध जताया। अब निर्माण ठप है। https://www.bhaskar.com/local/bihar/news/nepal-launches-troops-on-border-captures-our-land-stops-river-flow-127455158.html (28 June 2020)
Nepal FM on boundary issue & river Asked about the status of Kalapani and boundary issue with India, Nepal, Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali on Jan. 24 said that there are three other agreements which are related to the treaty which categorically says that Nepal’s western border is demarcated by the Kali river, in Nepal it’s called Mahakali river, is the western boundary river of Nepal. “So, Nepal wants to settle this unresolved or pending issue according to the Sugauli Treaty and other correspondence at that time, historical maps, evidences,” Gyawali said. https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/nepal-says-if-india-can-resolve-boundary-issue-with-bangladesh-why-not-kathmandu/1716822 (24 Jan. 2020)
Small transboundary river: Understanding Bhikhna Thori and River Pandai on India-Nepal border in Pashchim Champaran, Bihar In this Guest Blog Eklavya Prasad, Megh Pyne Abhiyan (Bihar) narrates the little known but rather big problem of Indo Nepal small transboundary rivers that are not part of any discussions, agreements or cooperation between the two govts. Narrating in detail the case of Pandai river that flows from Parsa district in Nepal to W Champaran district in Bihar, he shows how people of Bhikhna Thori (& many other villages) have been suffering. According to an ongoing study of Megh Pyne Abhiyan, there are at least 75 (still counting) such small transboundary rivers between Nepal and Bihar, shows how big a problem this is.
Foundation stone of head regulator works of Indo-Nepal Link Canal laid Shri A.K. Singh, CMD, NHPC, laid the foundation stone of head regulator works of Indo-Nepal Link Canal at Barrage of 94.2 MW Tanakpur Power Station of NHPC located in Banbasa, Dist Champawat (Uttarakhand) on 8 Dec 2020. The 1.2 km long Indo-Nepal canal is being constructed under Mahakali Treaty. https://www.psuconnect.in/news/CMD-NHPC-lays-the-foundation-stone-of-head-regulator-works-of-Indo-Nepal-Link-Canal/25812/ (8 Dec. 2012)
Nepal China Issues
Nepal fears China encroachment The report mentions diverting of a number of rivers that flow from Tibet to Nepal. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/nepal-fears-china-encroachment/articleshow/76542042.cms; https://www.timesnownews.com/india/article/amid-ongoing-india-feud-is-the-nepal-government-turning-a-blind-eye-to-chinese-encroachment/610718 (24 June 2020)
The documents show patches of Nepalese territory in several districts had already been encroached by China and cautioned that Beijing could take over more territory in the north if the rivers continue to change course. The loss of Nepalese territory due to the rivers changing course could run into “hundreds of hectare land”, it said. Nepal shares a boundary with China in the north, & has 43 hills and mountains from the east to west, that act as the natural boundary between the two countries. The survey dept has assessed that the changing course of 11 rivers had already cost Nepal 36 ha across four of its districts; Humla, Rasuwa, Sindhupalchowk & Sankhuwasabha. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/china-could-set-up-border-outposts-in-encroached-territories-nepal-govt-document/story-UD04e4xBMlTSbXcj2BQh8N.html (23 June 2020)
In a press statement on news reports about Nepal-China boundary, Nepal govt has rejected boundary dispute claims. https://mofa.gov.np/press-statement-on-news-reports-about-nepal-china-boundary/ (25 June 2020)