Fear of landslides leaves Damdi locals sleepless

Published On: August 15, 2017 03:45 AM NPT By: Daman Rai

KHOTANG, August 14: For the past few days, locals of Rupakot, Majhuwagadhi Municipality-10, Damki of Khotang have not been able to have enough sleep due to the fear of landslides. The fear of being crushed by Hatisunde Bhir(cliff) which lies 1000 meters above the settlement area, and large rocks stuck in a Bar (banyan) tree, has stolen the sleep of locals of Damdi.  
The Hatisunde Bhir which lies in the border of Patheka-9 and 7 developed huge cracks during the earthquake of 1935. According to Tanka Bahadur Rai, a local teacher, this cracked cliff and three other rocks stuck in the Bar tree can anytime fall into the settlement area due to the continuous heavy rainfall which has already devastated eastern Nepal.

Dark clouds hovering in the sky are enough to scare Damdi locals. Every time there is lightening and thunderstorm in the sky their heart starts beating faster. This fear has been troubling the locals for years especially during monsoon. "During the rainy season, we rarely sleep," said Nir Bahadur Rai, a local, adding, "We know we are risking our lives but we have got no where to go."

Torrential rain has led to cracks in the Hatisunde Bhir and that has left the locals worried for their lives. Earlier in 1988, the crack was just 1 feet long however, the crack has now been more than four meters long, informed Dal Bahadur Rai, a local.
In the last 20 years, no houses have been built in Damdi of Patheka due to the fear of being  wiped out by landslides. The fear of death has compelled many villagers to migrate to other villages. During the rainy season, some locals take shelter in other villages and return home in the morning. "Four/five months of every year are hard to spend," said Rai. Being tired of living under constant fear, the locals have jointly made a decision to quit the village. 

A meeting of the Local Disaster Risk Management Committee (LDRMC) held on April 11,2014 listed Damdi in the list of places with high risk of natural calamities. More than fifty families of Damdi are at high risk of landslides. Not just that, the villagers are also troubled by the erosion in Nakham River of Gaun Puchar. In order to mitigate the risk of natural disasters, Damdi Community Disaster Management Work Plan has been prepared.

Though several agreements were made for relocating the settlement at risk, none of them were implemented. A meeting conducted by the District Natural Disaster Relief Committee (DNDRC) on July 2, 2012, had instructed Land Conservation and Rural Reconstruction Nepal (RRN) to study the degree of risk of natural disasters in Damdi. After their study, the research team submitted a report urging to relocate the settlement and schools as mitigating risk seemed impossible. But nothing has been done yet.

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