DANG, July 7: Uma Oli had a small cottage on a piece of public land in Bangalachuli Rural Municipality-5. This was where she had been living for decades. Owning a house on her own land was her biggest dream. The local government in 2018 promised her a new house. Under the ‘model village development project’, the government was building 30 two-room houses in the rural municipality.
Oli, a laborer, felt on cloud nine. The government then told her that she needs to dismantle her old house as the new one would be erected on the same land and she did not hesitate to follow the suggestion.
In October 2019, she was handed over a new house. There were three similar houses around. She happily accepted the one offered to her. However, her joy did not last long. The roof leaked and the walls did not block the sun and wind. It was worse than her old cottage.
“They told me to dismantle my cottage. But the house they have built is not manageable. They have not fixed the roof and the walls properly, it leaks everywhere,” she said.
Oli stated that she did not have a sound sleep for several days after moving into the new house. Neither could she cook meals properly. This affected not just her health but also that of her baby, a toddler.
Her neighbor Sarita Oli is no less disappointed. The first thing she did after shifting to her new residence was blocking the holes with papers and torn clothes. “There were many gaps between the walls and the roofs; the corrugated sheets were not fixed properly. I knew it would leak from there, so I tried to block the holes,” she reported.
While the quality of the houses has left the beneficiaries in a huge dismay, they are equally shocked over the budget. The government states that each of those houses was built for Rs 700,000. The villagers had contributed labor for the construction.
Meanwhile, chairperson of the rural municipality, Bhakta Bahadur Oli accepted that the new houses were in a sorry state. He stated that technical flaws had led to the poor results. “Yes the houses are not safe. It happened due to some technical flaws in the beginning,” he said.
Nineteen such houses built by the rural municipality have not been handed over to beneficiaries yet. The latter did not accept the houses.
A local contractor ‘Mine Stone’ was given the contract of the project. Despite the poor results, the authorities have not taken any action against the contractor. According to the administrative officer of the rural municipality, Neb Bahadur Oli, six companies had bid for the project but ‘Mine Stone’ alone had the needed experience.