The last bridge connecting Helambu to rest of the world in bad shape

Published On: June 25, 2021 05:49 PM NPT By: Kunga Hyolmo

KATHMANDU, June 25: A massive landslide and a flash flood hit Helambu Rural Municipality and downstream villages of Sindhupalchowk last week. It has almost been 10 days, and it won’t be otherwise to say that Helambu has remained disconnected from the rest of the world since then. Both motorable and suspension bridges have been swept away. There has been no communication network and electricity since June 16.

While the massive flash flood triggered by a huge landslide in the Himalayas of Helambu wiped all the motor-able bridges in the area, the only one in Chanaute bazaar in Helambu survived the disaster. This bridge is the last one that connects Helambu to Melamchi Municipality and other regions. But, the bridge is in bad shape and it is likely that it too will be swept away soon if the government and local authorities do not act soon to keep it protected.

The flash flood that occurred on June 16 swept away five motorable bridges and five suspension bridges, according to the chairperson of Helambu Rural Municipality, Nima Gyalzen Sherpa. “The Chanaute Bridge – locally known as Rato Pool – is the only bridge that survived the flood,” he added.

Currently it is usable and vehicles can pass through it. But, if immediate and efficient measures are not adopted to protect it from being swept away, it is likely that Helambu Rural Municipality will starve this monsoon.

Due to only this bridge, NGOs and INGOs are successful in distributing relief materials and daily essentials. This has been the only single way in and out of Helambu Rural Municipality by road. But, the condition of the bridge is deteriorating day by day with the rise of the level of water in the Melamchi River. The bridge is currently being supported by two huge rocks and it is only a few feet high from the river.

“The local government has begun building an embankment around the bridge and I hope it will protect the bridge from flash floods to come,” Chairperson Sherpa said. “We are also building improvised cable crossings – locally called Tuins – in the places where we are unable to build suspension bridges recently,” he added. “This would help supply essentials to the rural village.”

The government must act immediately to protect the Chanaute Bridge from floods in order to keep the rural villages of Helambu alive. If the bridge also meets the same fate, helicopters will be the only option for supplying essentials and in case of emergencies.

Currently, there is no road access to only a few villages. The rest of the villages are connected by the Chanaute Bridge. 

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