Bilateral Cooperation in the Case Study of the Kosi River
Indian-Naples frontier, the Koki is Joined by several major tributaries and breaks southward through the Silk Hills at the narrow Chat Gorge. The river then emerges on the great plain of northern India in Birr state on its way to the Ganges River, which it enters south of Burner after a course of about 724 km. “l This is the first passage in which the Encyclopedia Britannica describes the Koki river, until this part the Koki seems to be a straight forward river, but the interesting part follows immediately: “Because of its great outfighting of debris, the Koki has no permanent
Channel in its course through the great plain of northern India. It has long been notorious for its devastating floods, which may rise as much as 9 m in 24 hours and which long made vast tracts of northern Birr unsafe for habitation or cultivation.
“2 The special features of the Koki river are therefore its high amount of sediments it is transporting and the resulting floods – an aspect we will discuss later more detailed. The last flood of the Koki river happened in August 2008, the repercussions of which were disastrous.
The affected the livelihoods of about 50,000 Naples and a staggering 3. Million Indians from Briar. The number of deaths is still unknown but according to government officials at least 240 people died, media and locals estimate that the number has to be multiplied by ten to meet reality.
3 This Nas by far not the first flood of the Koki river and not even the worst, yet it advanced new discussion on the “issue Koki”. The discussion goes from future flood relief programs over the poor disaster management, to the “blame game”, focusing on who is to blame for this disaster.
Playing the “blame game” in the case of Koki is easy, yet complex. As Mark 1 2 Internet 1 Internet 1 3 Internet 2 Schuler writes in his article “Deconstructing the Disaster after the Disaster: Conceptualizing Disaster Capitalism” that a flood itself is not a disaster per SE, however it is political events that make a disaster out of a natural phenomena. 4 The number of political events that made this natural phenomenon a disaster is long; therefore many actors are to blame and many different arguments on the major mistakes and possible future procedures emerge.
This article will not have the capacity to elaborate on all these, it will therefore specifically address the issue of the lateral work on Koki river disaster management between the governments of India ND Neap This aspect is especially relevant since the embankments to the Koki breached in Nepal while the majority of affected people lived in India.
Therefore I will argue that one factor which lead to this dimension of disaster was the bad performance between the interaction of the Indian and Naples Governments. Furthermore I will follow the argumentation of Men B.
Payday Catheter who recommends in his article “A Practitioner’s View of Disaster Management in Nepal: Organization, System, Problems and Prospects” that it will be necessary to install a Regional Information Center to exchange disaster data and share information in disaster prevention and mitigation. This should also be the platform for any official birr multilateral agreements. 5 This Article will be divided in three sections: the first section will be a description of the Koki flood in August 2008 followed by an examination of the absences of cooperation of the Indian and Naples officials.
Finally I will conceptualize these absences under the aspect of intergovernmental/ bilateral arrangements.
He Koki flood in 2008 ere Koki River, a tributary of Gang River, flows from Nepal to Briar, with a total catchments area of 70. Smoke in Nepal. On August 18th 2008 an embankment breach close to the Indian border occurred, leading to an immediate change of the river course. An area of approve. 3.
000 km was flooded in Briar, affecting at least 3. 5 million people in 993 villages in the rural and semi-urban districts of Aria, Scapula, Madeira, Sahara and Burner (see Figure 1). According to official sources 239 humans died. A large scale relief operation was immediately launched to assist the 4 unrewarded/Schuler, 2008, Page 17 Internet 3 6 Internet 7 affected population. By official numbers 451. 562 flood victims were accommodated in 407 relief camps.
According to media and eye witness information, the number of dictums and number of people accommodated in relief camps and was much higher. Figure 1: The eventual status of the impact of floods in the 5 worst affected areas. Nile people in official and unofficial relief camps received support from the government and humanitarian organizations from August until October 2008 people started repatriating to the villages from October onwards. Due to the large scale destruction of rural infrastructure, homesteads and agricultural land, the scale of the required rehabilitation is tremendous. In addition, the breach is not fully repaired yet and water was flowing around and through the villages affecting the population until beginning of 2009.
This applies especially to the entire Scapula District and particularly to Pasteur block and Burp in closest proximity to the embankment breach.
Here the flood wave was very fast and had the highest destructive force. In Internet 5 addition, the tooling level was persistently at the highest level in comparison to there blocks and districts. 8 Pasteur block was the first block hit by the flash flood as it is located directly at the border to Nepal, a few kilometers from the broken embankment. The selected penchants are part of the area that was most affected by the flooding.
The flood’s direct impact on life, infrastructure and livelihood was extremely high compared to the other affected areas. At this location being that close to the breach the flood came as an immediate flash flood directly after the dam broke.
Many houses were destroyed, even concrete and brick structures were flushed away, and most of the livestock was lost. Three main streams with tremendous current passed through the area, leaving (as a major long term problem) a silted desert-like landscape that cannot be used for agriculture without extensive rehabilitation efforts. As agriculture is almost impossible and therefore the affected hamlets which are almost completely dependent on agriculture can’t take up agriculture again without further support, temporary migration is a widespread coping strategy among the population which is still facing an economic crisis due to ‘ere limited sources of income. Many people left for Nepal and other regions in India o gain money as daily laborers. This leaves large numbers of mostly vulnerable single headed families behind.
Women, children and elderly without support from the earning head of the family are seen as the most vulnerable groups among the flood affected.
The population of all hamlets in the effected area consists either of low cast-, migrant- or minority groups (mostly Muslims) of which many live below the poverty line (PL, defined and identified by the Indian government). 10 It is very questionable if the embankment can be repaired sufficiently in time for the monsoon season starting in June.
The construction work is delayed; the deadline for construction set by the government will most likely not be met. Reasons are seen in the slow decision making processes, difficulties resulting from the bilateral activities Ninth the Naples government as well as in protests and turmoil in the project area that interrupt the reconstruction work. The quality of the embankment construction e. G.
Use of sandy soil) is still poor. In addition only repair work at the breach is done; the rest of the dam is still in the same condition as before.
Considering the 8 9 Internet 4 & Internet 5 Internet 5 10 Internet 6 embankment’s proposed lifetime of 35 years when it was built in 1963 and the recent observations, a similar flood disaster is still considered as a possible scenario during the next monsoon season. 11 Understanding Koki politics Floods are no new phenomena in the sphere of Koki. The Koki river changed its course within the last two centuries in a westerly direction by nearly 150 km.
The movement of the river has not been gradual but of an evaluative nature – a sudden change in the river course.
This happens very frequently, while the Mississippi for instance has an evaluative frequency of 1400 years, the Koki has one of 24 years (see Figure 2). 12 Figure 2: The westward movement of the Kiosks erne reasons are due to the massive amount to sediments 14 the river carries along, coming down from the Himalaya and being fed by its seven tributaries. 1 5 Therefore Internet 6 Internet 8 13 Internet 2 14 This is due to the high altitude the Koki covers, the old age of the Koki river and its tributaries, that worked themselves through the raising Himalayas. 2 11 Koki has braided in the basin of Briar meandering a very large alluvial fan, the change of its course receives support by heavy rainfall in the catchments and high seismic activity in the hinterland causing landslides and large sediment production Inch eventually fill up the basin. 16 Additionally, the place where the river meets the genetic plain from the Naples foothills is quite narrow – only 5-km wide and steep (see Figure 3).
The water laden with silt and sand passing through such narrow and steep range provides the river with all the velocity and power to have such an Impact on the region of Briar. 7 Although there have been plans about flood control of the Koki since the 19th century on, no consensus was reached and no definitive action was taken until 1954. In this year India and Nepal signed the Koki agreement to regulate the flow of the river and ensure flood management. This plan included the building of a barrage to generate electricity and embankments were raised on either side of the river. 18 The special case in this arrangement was however, that Nepal is the upper riparian and India the lower riparian state.
As already mentioned Ninth the steep and narrow terrace the Koki flows down into the lower riparian state and creates a high vulnerability for India. Therefore it is important to understand hat any failure in flood prevention on the Naples side has an enormous effect on India and more specifically the Briar region – as was the case in the 2008 flood. This leads to the fact that India has a higher interest in appropriate flood prevention on Naples territory than Nepal itself. So the most important aspect of the 1954 agreement was the issue of compensation.
India was responsible for providing compensation for the land acquired in Nepal as well as all damages done in the course of the construction of the barrage.
It was also responsible for the design, construction and operation of the project. 9 This included the maintenance of the dams which lied in the hands of the water resources department of Briar. 20 In 1966 the agreement was amended. This time the significant addition was the definition of the lease period. It stated that Nepal would lease the land for the barrage to India for period of 199 years.
This lead to a high discontent among the Naples population since the barrage was only constructed for a 1516 Internet 2 Internet 8 17 Internet 8 18 Internet 9 19 Internet 9 20 Internet 10 maximum life span of 50 years.
In the sass’s India and Nepal negotiated again, after the flood of 1987. India discussed an alternative project of Koki flood management the building of the Sapp Koki High Dam, taking also in account that the Nepal government was unsatisfied with not benefiting adequately from the electricity generated trot the project. These negotiations took a long time and finally in ‘confessional power tariff’ was agreed upon. 1 The Dam project is still one of the solutions that are currently discussed as a response to the 2008 floods, interestingly enough is the fact that the first proposal to build such a dam was made in 1937, yet offices in Nepal were opened only in 2004 for feasibility studies. 22 Figure 3: Chronology and Visual display of the breach of the embankment 21 22 Internet 9 Internet 11 23 Internet 8 These negotiations between Nepal and India were as tenacious and protracted in terms of a flood prevention program, as the response of the officials towards the flood was slow and disastrous.
As shown in Figure 3, the first signs of an embankment breach in Chukkas were recognized on August 5th, 13 days before the actual breach. With those responsible on leave and a failure of communication, it took eleven more days for the contractors to finally come from Briar to arrive at the significant part of the embankment. It is then told, although an official version of this story does not really exist, that the local Nepal population obstructed the work demanding employment, extortion money and favors from the contractors. Even the Naples army is supposed to be impeding the work of the contractors.
Whether this story bares the truth or not it is evident that in this case, there was a total lack of cooperation between the Indian and the Naples side, with the contractors arriving earlier and the Indian embassy of Katmandu informing Naples government Officials, a conflict like the one described above should be easily avoidable. 24 However if this situation would have been taken care of appropriately it might have been possible to prevent the flood but the vulnerability would have remained high.
ere maintenance of the embankments was simply neglected. Due to the deposit of sediments, the riverbed rises.
As a reaction the embankments were enlarged, increasing the water pressure on the embankments since the close-by land was actually situated lower than the river itself. It is ironic that the flood which caused the disaster in August 2008 was relatively harmless. The river discharge was actually lower than its long-term average for August (4,729 AMA/s). The rainfall in the hills was below average during the first half of August.
The maximum flood peak ever recorded in 1968 (25,787 AMA/s) was almost six times higher than the discharge when the breach occurred. 5 Many previous floods were blamed on foxes and rats that dug holes in the embankments; this is an indication of very bad flood management and DOD prevention work. Lindsey et al write in their book “Water Resources Engineering” how it should be done: “Levees should undergo regular inspection with the aim of looking for evidence of bank caving, weak spots created by animals or vegetation, inundation settlement, bank sloughing, erosion around the outlets of sewers or other pipes passing through 24 25 Internet 10 Internet 2 the levees and other possible sources to danger. Any alarming condition should be maintained.
Patrols should have arrangements for immediate communication with flood-fighting forces and equipment for immediate repair of minor danger spots.
“26 ere example of the Koki river demonstrates how a bilateral arrangement fails due to lack of communication and uncertainty about responsibilities. An even useful Institution like the Soil Conservation Research and Demonstration Center which was established by the Government of India in Chat (Nepal) under the original Koki agreement of 1954 was closed a decade ago. 27 Conceptualizing the Koki politics ere agreement between India and Nepal regarding Koki is bilateral.
In Sheppard Forman and Derek Gear article: “New Coalitions for Global Governance: The Changing Dynamics of Multilateral” they state that such agreements have the advantage of having their lack of institutional constraints, shared interest of a smaller group, greater ability to immobile resources. 28 In contrast, the traditional Intergovernmental agreements have disadvantages. The least powerful actors can be marginalia; most informal state-to-state arrangements have no mechanisms of accountability or oversight (no records of meetings).
A concern about sustainability has also to be raised; when leadership changes, the intentions of the arrangements can also change. And finally initiatives might be good for a quick particular and flexible reaction but bad for establishing long term policy Interestingly enough most of the critiques mentioned by Forman and Gear are relevant for the Koki case. ere longer the Koki arrangement lasted and the more actions were planned and awaken, the less reliable the partners became.
This is the case in the question of the maintenance of the embankment. With Napalm’s shift from a kingdom to a federal republic the debate over costs, benefits and risks have to be reconsidered.
30 It is also remarkable that India and Nepal are a very odd couple. Nepal is a small country Noose economy relies and depends on its neighbor India. With India operating in Naples territory this is a constant threat of the sovereignty of Nepal, who is Just not strong enough to be on the same level as India in terms of power relations.
The Koki arrangement resembles a typical Neo-realism approach, 26 27 Lindsey, et all, 1992 Internet 12 28 Internet 13 29 Internet 13 30 Internet 2 where a small state cooperates with a hegemony, yet being in constant fear of being exploited or taken advantage of. It seems that India is even aware of this problem and therefore hesitates to take action and refuses to interfere in Naples territory by inspecting the embankments, Just for the sake of not causing any inconvenience. As such, Nepal and India maneuvered themselves into a “loose-loose situation”.
Under these circumstances bargaining is difficult and the disaster is the result of a operation which is necessary but from both sides contested. Cooperation in this case of Koki and in many other water and electricity related aspects is crucial for India in term of flood security and gaining electricity, as well as for Nepal to support their economy. Therefore the best way forward for both countries could be a shift from neo-realist foreign politics towards politics based more on rational-choice institutionalism.
As Men u way eccentric suggests in his article “A Practitioner’s View of Disaster Management in Nepal: Organization, System, Problems and Prospects” one solution could be the installation of a Regional Information Center to exchange disaster data and share information in disaster prevention and mitigation. This should also be the platform for any official bi- or multilateral agreements.
31 This Mould again expose Nepal in being marginalia as the least powerful actor, but it has not to be this way.
Since the issue of flood control is universal in South Asia – in the same way as India relies on Naples flood control, Bangladesh relies on Indian flood contracts, so does India rely on Pakistan and Bhutan – this institution should not be bilateral but multinational. This would give the smaller countries of South Asia more bargaining power against India and at the same time bilateral arrangements can be monitored without relying on an institution such as the World Bank.
Such cooperation does not have to be under the influence of SACRA, since SACRA is a relatively weak institution and the issue of water management needs a strong cooperation. Therefore an independent institution might be more useful for this project.
This would give Nepal and India the chance to – whatever their future actions towards Koki will be – prevent such a disaster as the recent flood in August 008, due to better communication, monitoring and maintenance.
Internet 3 Also on Chinese flood control, but China as a country that contests multilateral agreements should be left out of this Regional Information Centre for geopolitical and strategic reasons 32 Conclusion Inheres most scholars argue about the appropriate flood management measures for the future of the Koki river, I argued in this article that it is more important to first reconsider the relationship between Nepal and India regarding Koki before any actions are taken.
A cooperation between Nepal and India is necessary in regards to Koki, but it is important that this cooperation is fruitful, sustainable and in the consent of both parties – among the governments as well as the civil society and the population. If the future agreements are conducted in the spirit of the one from 1954, the next disaster is not more than 50 years ahead of us. The complexity of the Koki river and the therefore resulting difficulties of a flood management were demonstrated in the first part of the article.
Further on I demonstrated to which extent the existing agreement and the treatment of the agreement were one of the actors – by far not all – which explained why the floods occurred in August 2008. This must lead to a paradigm shift in the bilateral cooperation between India and Nepal in regards to water and flood management. My proposal in this case is the Installation of a Regional Information Center to exchange disaster data and share information in disaster prevention and mitigation. This should not only be bilateral but regional to embrace other partners of Indian’s water management and create a better monitoring of cooperation.