SUSTA (NAWALPARASI), March 14: Due to an apathetic government, unresolved boarder issues, and growing highhandedness on the part of the Indian side over the border demarcation line between the two countries, Nepali citizens living across the Narayani River in Susta feel like refugees in their own country.
Nepali citizens living at Triveni, Susta VDC across the Narayani River abutting on the Indian border, are allowed to shop in the Indian market but cannot sell their produce in India.
They are allowed to travel to Nepal via the Narayani Bridge, which was inaugurated jointly by then prime minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru and the late King Mahendra, supposedly for mutual use, but they cannot use the bridge to transport their products to the Nepali market.
In this situation, Susta folks have to risk their lives to transport produce by boat to the Nepali market, crossing the swollen Narayani River. The bridge, which is just 12 km from Susta, is of no use for Nepali citizens. Besides, the government has paid no heed to building a bridge over the Narayani to link the cut-off Susta to Nepal´s mainland.
“We cannot sell sugarcane until we transport it to a sugar mill. We are not allowed to use the Narayani bridge on the Indian side and moreover there is no provision for transportation to cross the Narayani from our side,” said sugarcane farmer Bholenath Pashi, who was transporting sugarcane by boat to reach a mill on the Nepali side.
“At least 80 quintals of sugarcane has to be transported across the river in one consignment to meet the boat tender amount. The swollen river always creates a hurdle,” said boat operator Baburam Majhi.
“We are here to facilitate transporting of sugarcane across the river. Even the government failed to address the problem faced by locals here; we have to serve them to the best of our best ability,” said Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI Nandalal Adhikari, who is leading a police team to transport sugarcane across the river.
“We can go to the Indian market to buy things and visit Indian hospitals for treatment but we cannot transport any produce of our land over the bridge to Nepal,” said a local, Bijulibanti Musahar. “We don´t know by whom and when a bridge and dam will be constructed to end our hardship,” she said while waiting for a boat to cross the river.
According to locals, the Indian side has been encroaching on Nepali land at Susta, taking advantage of the volatile political situation in Nepal. Altogether 3,333 Nepali people are living on 14,000 hectares at Susta. They have citizenship but lack landownership certificates.