Mar 13th 2023,

RC Timilsina


Field trip to Garaiya and Chiliya Tappu (Locally known as Srilanka Tappu)


On March 31st, 2022, following our breakfast in Chatara, which is located downstream of the Koshi River and serves as a bridge between the Sunsari and Udayapur districts, we took an auto-rickshaw towards Srilanka Tappu. The driver of the rickshaw was a young man with a small mustache and a confident demeanor. During the ride, we inquired about his daily life and livelihood, to which he responded with an optimistic outlook and a sweet smile. Despite the dirt road, we arrived safely to our destination.

As we continued our journey, we traveled 7km further from Chatara to reach the villages of Garaiya and Chiliya, which are located on the bank of the Koshi River in the Sunsari district. These villages are known for their unique river triggered challenge, river bank cutting, locally known as Kattan, which involves sliding down the land by the current of the river. As we began our journey, we were greeted by the sight of the meandering Koshi River and the vast expanse of land adorned with rows of quaint, temporal cottage-style houses. The pastoral land nearby was home to a grazing herd of contented cattle, while the cool breeze carried with it tiny particles of sand dust. A straight pathway separated the village from the agricultural land, with an electricity line running alongside it. We spotted a verdant hectare of cultivated land that was irrigated by a water pump. The fields were filled with healthy-looking crops, including maize, wheat, and various vegetables.

Upon arriving at the village, we were greeted by Mr. Purnase Rai who was lounging under the shade of a tree, enjoying the cool breeze of the Koshi River while ignoring the oppressive humidity outside. We engaged in a lengthy conversation with him about the impact of floods on his life, despite the fact that he migrated to this area three years ago from the hilly region of Udhyapur in search of a better livelihood. When purchasing his non-registered land, he was well aware of the threat of the Kattan of Koshi. Although the Koshi River was located miles away from his residence, the devastating effects of Kattan were not fully realized until approximately 15-20 years later. In recent years, particularly the last two, there has been extensive Kattan, which is experienced throughout the year, with peaks during the monsoon season and slowly decreases during other seasons. The land structure consists of loose sandy soil, which is why on average approximately one meter of land is eroded by the Koshi River on a daily basis.

Mr Purnase Rai explained his experience with the Kattan he says that “बाढी आउन थालेसी हिलो माटो लतत आउछ, हिलो दंग दंग गनाउदै आउंछ” – meaning “the muddy water with bad smell indicates that flood. Emotionally he shares “ढुङ्ग्रोबाट पानी घोपटाय जस्तो गरी पानि पर्छ, भक भक घर जत्रो बलुवा माटो झर्छ, फेरी रेट्छ फेरी झर्छ गर्दै यता आइपुगो, राती बगाउने होकी भनेर निन्द्रै पर्दैन” in this area cloudburst occurs and massive Kattan occurs along with the landslide. Even hard to take nap and life is really tough during the monsoon. To address the issue of Kattan in the Koshi region, a triangular-shaped concert block called Tri-Khutti has been installed in the upper region of Srilanka Tappu, with the cooperation of Nepal and India. Since the implementation of Tri-Khutti, there has been some relief from the effects of Kattan, although it is not considered a permanent solution by the locals. The construction of Tri-Khutti was overseen by both the Nepali and Indian governments. Despite its limitations, the installation of Tri-Khutti has given hope for a better future in the Koshi region.

During the conversation, he shared a harrowing experience of how he and his wife had to run for their lives at midnight to escape an elephant attack. They fled from their home to their neighbor's house and were able to survive. However, when he returned the following morning, he found that his house had been destroyed. As he recounted this traumatic incident, tears welled up in his eyes. He expressed his longing for his birthplace and revealed that he planned to return to Udhayapur. However, he was fortunate in a way, as nobody was willing to borrow his land due to the constant threat of Kattan from the Koshi River.