The Barpak village which was flattened by the 2015 earthquakes has now become an expanse of colorful tin roofs. The picture was taken earlier this week. Narahari Sapkota/Republica
GORKHA, April 25: Hundreds of houses were reduced to rubble in Barpak, the epicenter of the catastrophic earthquake of 2015. Three years on, only 509 out of the 1,400 houses destroyed have been reconstructed. Another 429 houses are under construction while the inhabitants of the others are still under makeshift tents.
Before the earthquake, almost all houses in Barpak looked similar. But now there is more variety because of the colorful zinc roofs. In the past, people here used to build their houses with rocks and mud plaster but now some reinforced concrete units have sprung up. Meanwhile, it is those who are financially weak that are still making do with tents.
The pace of quake reconstruction has been disappointing in the whole of Gorkha district. A total of 55,000 quake victims in the district have received the first tranche of the reconstruction grant but only 18,828 have received the final tranche. Similarly, 25,513 have received the second tranche. There are more than 12,000 quake victims in the district who have not even started their reconstruction.
The reconstruction of quake-damaged schools and other facilities is equally sluggish . The Building Division Office (BDO) has the responsibility of restoring six government buildings and two residential structures. "We are preparing to complete everything within the contract period," said Roshan Shrestha, chief of BDO.
Gagan Singh Ghale of Barpak-1 has just laid the foundation of his house. He delayed the reconstruction to put together enough money for a concrete structure . But he had to fast-track matters for fear of losing the reconstruction grant. "I will lose the grant if I don't build on time and I can't let that happen," he said.
As Barpak is 52 kilometers from district headquarters, locals have to pay Rs.30,000 per truck load for the supply of construction materials. "More than half the grant is spent on procuring and transporting in the construction materials," said Ghale, adding," There are many like me who are incurring huge debts to rebuild." Those who cannot secure the loans are still in tents. "We will have to burrow another 300,000 to build," laments Uttam BK, one of the quake victims.
As many of the victims saw their land cave in during the devastating earthquake , many are not sure where they will rebuild . Though the government has assured such people that it will provide them Rs. 200,000 to buy land, they seem put off by the hassles involved.
Until a few years ago, Barpak was a famous tourist destination . Following the earthquake devastation the tourists are yet to return .