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Sindhupalchowk locals doubly vulnerable to natural calamities

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Sindhupalchok, April 15, 2016: An artificial reservoir created by the massive landslide in Jure VDC some two years ago that claimed 156 lives in three VDCs of Sindhupalchowk district had also swept away the farmland belonging to Chuk Bahadur Karki, an elderly of Pangretar.

Chuk Bahadur had already endured the loss of his farmland, but last April’s earthquake destroyed his house as well. “As our house collapsed, we ran to save our lives,” he said. All his cooking utensils and food items stored were buried under the rubble.

The rocky hills in the upper parts of the village have developed cracks. Sunkoshi River flows below the village. “We are doubly vulnerable to natural disasters,” said Chuk Bahadur.

According to Chuk Bahadur, the flood caused by the Jure landslide washed away over 200 ropanis of arable land, including his five-ropani farm.

Both the landslide and earthquake are still fresh in the minds of the locals. Frequent aftershocks are still trouncing them. “Sunkoshi River destroyed our farms and earthquake destroyed houses,” he added.

Chuk Bahadur argues that although gabion walls have been installed to prevent possible flood in the village, it is not an effective and sustainable way. He still suspects of flood entering into his village during monsoon.

A total of 45 households belonging to Karkis live in the village. The earthquake last year collapsed all the houses. Although they still fear of landslide due to cracks developed in the hills and floods during monsoons, they are bound to live in the village, Tara Karki, 44, said. “Had we found elsewhere to migrate, we could have happily left this village,” she said. “We love our lives than the village.”

Many earthquake victims like 77-year-old Harka Bahadur Karki complained about the government’s apathy toward their plights. Till date, they have received nothing except 30 kilos of rice, according to Harka Bahadur.

“We won’t vote in the upcoming election,” he said.

The ruins of houses belonging to all 45 families have been accumulated at one place. The locals have been staying under makeshift shelters made up of corrugated zinc sheets, which almost get heated to boiling point. To avoid the scorching heat, they are compelled to spend the days under trees on the premises of Jalpadevi Higher Secondary School.

Every quake-hit local has only one question: When will their house be rebuilt? But no one has the answer for it. They are in dilemma about whether to live in the village or to relocate themselves.

The government grant of Rs 200,000 brings no joy to the affected locals of the village. “When there is no guarantee of a proper place to live in, what shall we do with the money?” 77-year-old Khil Bahadur Karki questioned.