Nepal minister calls Indian flood relief aid pittance


Kathmandu : Less than a week after the Indian government handed over a cheque for NRS 320 million to Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ to help bring relief to the victims of the Kosi flood, a senior Nepali minister dismissed it as a pittance.

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Home Minister Bamdev Gautam, who is also the deputy prime minister, Wednesday said that at a time the premier was seeking billions of rupees to rehabilitate the flood victims and rebuild the destroyed infrastructure, which includes part of a major highway, and phone and electricity lines, India should pay NRS 20-30 billion as compensation.

Gautam said that India had built a series of embankments and other structures along the India-Nepal border for its own security. However, they were creating havoc in Nepal.

According to the Kosi river pact signed between the two neighbours in 1954, India has to maintain, build and repair the various structures on the river.

The Kosi breached its embankment in August after two of its spurs collapsed, unleashing destruction in Sunsari district in south Nepal as well as in Bihar state in India.

Gautam said that in comparison to the 50,000 people left homeless in Nepal, the money handed over by the Indian government was inadequate.

Gautam belongs to the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (UML), the second largest party in the six-party ruling alliance headed by the Maoists.

The UML has been repeatedly saying that as per international norms, India should compensate Nepal for the ravages caused by the flood.

Indian authorities say that the breached embankment could not be repaired in time as its technician team was threatened by the locals and the Nepal government failed to ensure their security.