Commentary: This is not fair, Prime Minister Oli!

Published On: June 18, 2021 03:38 PM NPT By: Kunga Hyolmo

If you can hold a meeting in the middle of the night and recommend to the President to dissolve parliament, why can't you pay a visit to the flood- and landslide-hit areas and announce relief, extend support and give hope to people in despair? What is stopping you?

Yesterday my aunt was airlifted to Kathmandu in a chartered helicopter after she complained of chest pain. Along with her, a lady who is expecting a baby this month also arrived here in Kathmandu just to have her baby delivered. These people were compelled to pay heavy fare and chartered helicopters as the roads and bridges connecting their region to the rest of the world have just been swept away by a massive landslide and flood.

Still many are planning to travel to the capital in the same manner. Helambu is just 80 KM away from Kathmandu and it takes around only 15 minutes to reach there by a helicopter, which is the only way to reach the upper belts of the region for now.

Helambu Rural Municipality and Melamchi Municipality are in bad shape. Electricity and communication networks have remained disconnected for the past two days and there is no sign of improvement in the situation any time soon. Towns and cultivable land have turned into sandbanks. The loss of property and land are estimated in billions of rupees. Dozens have gone missing and many have lost their families, relatives and friends.

Suspension bridges connecting the rural villages have also been swept away. There is currently no connection between the villages. People are left stranded and families are displaced. Hundreds have lost their homes and land. People who were landlords a few days ago have become landless and homeless. It felt like the earth beneath my feet shifted as I heard my friend from Melamchi who lost his home and land to the flood compared himself to a refugee. Voices of my fellow villagers, family who are still in terror hunt me these days.  

The upper region of Helambu is now totally disconnected from the rest of the world. People there do not have enough daily essentials. Whatever food and other supplies they have stored won’t last more than a month or two and the worst are the medical emergencies. The supplies are running out and so are lives.

It has been three days since Helambu and Melamchi were hit by the devastating flood and landslide which wiped everything on its way. However, not a single response team of the government or any other bodies has visited the most-affected areas like Melamchi Ghyang, Nakote, Tarkeghyang, Sermathang, Timbu, Kuel, Chanaute and Melamchi among many. The social media is flooded with news, pictures and stories of Helambu and Melamchi after the disaster but not a single piece of them seems to have drawn the attention of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and other authorities. I wonder what Prime Minister Oli is doing!

PM Oli, if you can hold a meeting and recommend to the President to dissolve parliament in the middle of the night, why can’t you pay a visit to the flood- and landslide-hit areas and announce relief, extend support and give hope to the people in despair? What is stopping you? Your government seems busy and interested in the dirty political games rather than addressing the problems of the people. This is not fair, Prime Minister Oli!

Helambu and Melamchi will take almost a decade to catch up with the speed in which the development activities were being conducted before the catastrophe. It will take years to construct all those roads and motor-able bridges. The government and local bodies have no idea of the level of destruction suffered by the Melamchi Drinking Water Project and its tunnel. It is apparent that the project now won’t be able to supply water to the Kathmandu Valley this year. The project suffered massive destruction soon after the people in the valley had just had a taste of the nation’s pride project. But, yes, the government has no time to waste on this nonsense.

Education institutions are now forced to remain shut at the beginning of the new academic session and health emergencies are likely in the coming days. The problems currently facing Helambu and Melamchi are just the tip of the iceberg as the monsoon season has just begun. The Department of Meteorology and Hydrology has already announced that Nepal is likely to receive more rainfall than average this year.

This is the time to join our hands and support each other. Helambu and Melamchi need help. Whatever relief and government aid received seemed mainly focused on Melamchi only. Other regions are also affected equally and share the same fate.

I want to draw the attention of the government, international community and local bodies to help Helambu and Melamchi survive this catastrophe.


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