Fear of landslide keeps locals awake

Published On: August 11, 2016 12:10 AM NPT By: Suman Malla

MUGU, August 11: Rupa Rokaya is unable to sleep these days, thanks to the fear of landslides that has gripped her family. Massive rocks and mud have been sliding down from the settlements below her house while road and land above her house have sustained many cracks. “As the monsoon continues, it is just a matter of time before landslides sweep us away,” said Rokaya, a local of Nigale village in Srinagar VDC-9, Mugu district.

Her village is just an hour's walk from the district headquarters, Gamgadhi. Locals of Nigale village, which has about 42 households, rely heavily on markets of Gamgadhi to sell their vegetable. However, heavy rainfalls have destroyed the vegetables and washed away their farmlands, effectively robbing the villagers of their major source of income.

“Without vegetables, we do not have other means to earn our livelihood. We are deeply worried how we are going to make a living,” said Janshila Rokaya, another local. “But more than feeding ourselves, we are worried about managing a place to stay if landslides destroy our home,” she added.

A road was constructed about 20 meters above the village as part of Rural Access Programme. As the road is already full of cracks, locals say that continuous rainfalls can easily tear apart the road, putting their lives and properties under risk. The whole village has been left terrified due to the risk of landslides.

“When it rains, we immediately leave our home and head for a safer location in the forest. And fear of possible landslide keeps us awake throughout the night,” said Birkha Bahadur Rokaya, another local. “There are many cracks in the lands above our village. Though our whole settlement is at high risk, we are forced to stay in our village risking our lives in lack of alternatives. We cannot even shift to lower settlements as lots of landslides occur there too.”

Chief District Officer (CDO) Keshav Raj Sharma informed that 20 percent of 139 settlements throughout the district are at high risk of landslides. “As the monsoon is ongoing, lots of villages are at high risk. We have requested them to stay on high alert,” said Sharma, who is also the coordinator of the District Disaster Relief Committee (DDRC).

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