Five years on Surkhet flood victims still deprived of relief
September 1, 2019 09:21 AM NPT
By: GANESH BISHU
Deurupa Kami (above), a Surkhet flood victim sobs as she narrates her family’s sorrows since the flood and a temporary settlement of flood victims (above left) in Bheriganga Municipality in these recent pictures. Photo: Ganesh Bishu/Republica
BIRENDRANAGAR, Sept 1: Floods and landslides displaced a total of 1045 families in Panchapuri, Birendranagar, Bheriganga, and Barahatal areas in 2014. Even though the government instantly promised to resettle the victim families, they are still living in a makeshift hut in the nearby jungles. This has taken a toll on their health and the overall progress in life.
“During the elections, we were made very hopeful of resettlement, but their promises never materialized,” laments Shushila Kami of Bheriganga. “We have been trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty, which even our next generation won’t be able to overcome. We want the government’s intervention without delay,” she added.
Deurupa Kami, who has been living under a tarpaulin with family nearby Shushila’s hut, has serious complaints too. She said that many people come and visit them, record their audio videos, make reports, but never act to make their life better. “We don’t know where they come from, but we have been interviewed several times. And yet, nobody has worked in our interest,” Deurupa said.
Deurupa and Shushila had not just lost their houses to the floods then, like many other victims they had lost their lands too. “If the floods had not washed away our land, we would have somehow managed to build a house on our own. But we don’t have land. We cannot manage to buy land and built a home,” explained Deurupa. She lost her adult son last year to an accident. He was the only breadwinner in the family.
Kamala Sunar, yet another victim of the floods and landslides also lost her husband recently. The mother of four is now even more worried about her children’s future. “First, the natural disaster destroyed our lives. Now, we lost him. I don’t know how I am going to take care of my children,” she lamented.
Sunar’s father-in-law Durga Bahadur Sunar also expressed worries over the uncertain future of the children. Even if the people like him, who are in the twilight years of life, could be neglected, the government should have given helping hands to young children, he noted. “We are like the setting sun. We don’t have any future. But there are children. They need protection,” he stressed.
The family also discussed land ownership certificate which the government was supposed to provide them right after the floods. “They talk of it even now. But the time is passing so fast; the government is very slow.”
According to Durga Bahadur, the government did very much unfair to the flood and landslide victims compared to the earthquake victims.
The devastating earthquake of 7.8 rectors had hit the country affecting 14 districts, including Kathmandu in the year 2015. The affected families have received house grant in three installments.
“We have not received even relief. The plights wer almost the same,” lamented Durga Bahadur.
Amrita BK, another flood victim, living in the forest area, stressed on the need to build an integrated settlement for the homeless people. “The government has not taken our problem seriously. Or else, the government could have taken measures to build an integrated settlement,” she remarked.
According to Sita Nepali, a local leader of NCP, there has been a delay in the distribution of relief to the victims due to lack clarity at the policy level for address the problem. The earlier government led by late Shushil Koirala had announced relief to them. Later, the government headed by Pushpa Kamal Dahal had also promised them assistance. But still, there has been no clear guideline on whether to provide land to the victims or provide them cash, Nepali said.
According to Renu Acharya, Deputy Mayor of Bheriganga Municipality, both the federal and provincial governments should be sensitive towards the victims. Unless they support, the problem cannot be solved by the local level, she said.
Other succeeding governments also gave assurances to the victims. However, the victims have been left on their own so far. A total of 150 people had lost lives in the floods and landslides in August that year. Nineteen districts were affected, and Surkhet was among the worst hit.