Settlements along the river Sunkosh

Chimi Dema | Tsirang

Situated between two giant rivers of Sunkosh and Kalikhola, residents of about 50 houses in Lhamoidzingkha and Kundrelthang chiwogs in Lhamoidzingkha, Dagana, live in fear of flooding every summer.

Local residents say changing river courses and swelling during monsoon pose threat to their lives and properties.

They said except for a few embankment walls and emergency excavation when settlement nearby gets flooded, there were no major flood mitigation measures put in place.

Between 2011 and 2017, a mitigation wall was constructed along the river Sunkosh in two phases.

Lhamoidzingkha gup, Surja Bahadur Limboo said that although there was a plan for the third phase construction, work couldn’t be executed without a budget in the current plan. “A 600ms long wall is required along the river to protect nearby settlements.”

He said Kundrelthang chiwog is at high risks of flooding, as the river changed its course and flows towards the village.

“We’ve written to the drungkhag administration last year, requesting for budget to divert the river course,” he said. “It couldn’t be done, as it required permission from Indian counterpart.”

The gup said floods washed away protection walls constructed along the river in the 1990s.

Kundrelthang tshogpa, Barun Majhi, said that if the mitigation measures are not put in place at the earliest, 28 houses might be affected. “There are also government reserved forest and private reserved land at the site.”

He said that although the wall constructed between 2011 and 2017 was built to protect at least 35 households, floods washed away most of the walls last year.

With financial support from the dzongkhag disaster management committee, a wall measuring 60ms was constructed along Kalikhola last year at a cost of Nu 500,000.

Gup Surja Bdr. Limboo said that although temporary mitigation measures like seasonal dredging and river course diversion could be done along the Kalikhola river, a flood mitigation wall is necessary to protect settlements near river Sunkosh.

“With monsoon nearing, the threat of flooding is even more,” he said.

The issue of a need for a flood mitigation wall was also raised during the ninth dzongkhag tshogdu (DT) last month.

The DT recommended the gewog administration to study the potential risks and submit the report.

The gup said they would soon carry out the study and submit the report along with estimated cost.

The dzongkhag administration has also kept a provisional budget of Nu 0.583M for construction of flood mitigation wall in the fiscal year 2021-2022.

Local leaders, however, said that a huge budget is needed to construct a wall.

Meanwhile, local residents said Kalikhola is said to have flooded more than five times since 1992.