… Shetikhari stream subsides after dredging begins

Chencho Dema and Lhakpa Quendren 

The water of Punatsangchhu rose above the Bailey bridge at Khuruthang yesterday morning before it subsided towards the evening. 

The National Centre for Hydrology and Meteorology reported rising water levels from the early warning stations at Tashithang and Yebesa along Mochhu in Punkha around 8am yesterday. 

Mochhu as of 10pm yesterday was still at an alert level with the water level at Yebesa measuring 3.5 metres. Light rainfall was reported in the area. 

Punakha Dzongkhag Administration’s disaster management office notified students, and pedestrians crossing Changyuel and Khuruthang Zam should be extra cautious.

Individuals have been asked to refrain from going near the river and making unnecessary travels.

Mochhu as of 10pm yesterday was still at an alert level with the water level at Yebesa measuring 3.5 metres

Settlements along the river banks like Changyuel, and Samdingkha in Toewdang gewog have been alerted and residents were asked to be ready for evacuation if the water level rises.

Meanwhile, after the Shetikhari stream in Gelephu gewog flooded in the afternoon of August 24, five chain excavators were deployed to dredge the river upstream. The water level has subsided as of yesterday evening, and it has been redirected to its original course, just a few metres above the flooded area.

Gelephu Gup Prem Prasad Katel said that temporary measures are being implemented to control the stream from flooding. He said that the dredging works were underway from KN bridge near the Pelrithang Higher Secondary School.

“The dredging works will continue, and the dzongkhag administration also supported keeping the machines until the situation improves,” he said.

The gewog administration has warned residents about the potential flood risks in the area.

Gup Prem Prasad Katel said that unless permanent measures are not taken immediately, settlements and lands along the riverbanks, including the Gelephu Middle Secondary School and Gelephu Hindu Mandir, are at risk. “The water source has deteriorated over the years, and some settlements are vulnerable to flooding.”

He said that the Sarpang dzongkhag and the Gelephu gewog administrations have been spending about Nu 3 million to 4 million each year on the Shetikhari stream. “We would have already spent billions on this, and it is not a sustainable measure. I feel the experts from the relevant ministry should visit the area to assess the situation and find solutions.”

The Chief Engineer at the Department of Surface Transport regional office in Sarpang, Sonam Tashi, said that six machines have been deployed at various locations in Sarpang to clear roadblocks during the monsoon.

“We will also hire additional machines if the situation demands. We have already informed them in advance to keep these machines prepared for any urgent use, even at night,” he said. “However, in some cases, our efforts are being hampered by shooting boulders.”