Newly-built settlement for Musahars in Itahari unoccupied for two and a half years

Published On: August 31, 2022 03:30 PM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

ITAHARI, August 31: A newly-constructed settlement for Musahars has been seemingly left useless for the past two and a half years as the target beneficiaries are reluctant to inhabit the settlement citing various reasons. The Musahar community for which the shelters were built argued that their consent was not sought beforehand and that the newly-built settlement lacks facilities. 

It takes much time to reach the company they are working for from the newly-built settlement at Itahari-16, and their children's school is also far away, they argued. The settlement was developed by the Itahari Sub-Metropolitan City.

Fifteen houses have been built for the Musahar community, currently living at Itahari-17, at a cost of Rs 12 million under the Tarai Madhes Prosperity Program. Itahari Sub Metropolitan City also provided assistance for the project. 

Local resident Sumati Rishidev said they would not leave their ancestral place. "They did not consult with us before building the settlement for us. We cannot leave this place where we have been living for long. We must be settled within our existing settlement itself."  

It is far away from the company where we work, he said, adding that it takes 45 minutes to one hour on a bicycle to reach Itahari bazaar from the settlement. "So, it will create problems for our children to reach school," he said.

The target group assesses that the settlement built for them lies in an inappropriate location from the Itahari Bazaar where they have to be each day to earn a living. It is not easily accessible for their regular duty station and schools of their children. 

"We are ready to live in makeshift huts along the roadside areas, but we don't think we will move to the new shelters built by the government." As he said, the local government is urging them to shift to the settlement. "It takes at least 45 minutes to one hour to arrive in Itahari Bazaar from there. The local government promised us to provide bicycles to make the travel easier, but it is not a sustainable solution. Working women of the community are likely to be affected more if we move there," he said. 

Drinking water facility has been ensured in the settlement. Likewise,  the settlement has toilets, a children's park, a community building and a temple as well. Millions of rupees were spent to implement the project.

With the target group declining to move to the new settlement built for them, the multi-year road project brought by the local government has been in limbo. Itahari Sub-metropolis is at the moment seeing no clear ways ahead  to determine the modality of road widening projects with the plan to shift the people residing on the roadside to the new settlement.  

A three-member team was formed under the convenorship of the then Itahari Submetropolis-16 chair Deep Narayan Chaudhary after the target group refused to shift to the settlement. Based on the committee's report, the local government prepares to provide the new homes to the most indigent community in the town. "The process is likely to begin within some months," according to sub-metropolis chief administrative officer Ram Charitra Meheta.


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