How a three-decade old landslide is displacing a whole villageLocals complain of slow government response in solving the crisis.
Last year, Ram Bahadur Gurung moved out of his ancestral village of Chipla, in Marsyangdi, to Ghermu Phant. A massive landslide that had occurred in Chipla some 30 years ago had been slowly expanding, putting Gurung’s house at direct risk. In these three decades, no efforts have been made by the government to lessen the risk, Gurung said. “No measures were adopted to control the landslide, which kept growing bigger every year, or to transpose the peoples to safer spaces,” he said.
Gurung eventually constructed a house for his family in the plains of Ghermu Phant with his own money. Others like him, Manjeet Gurung and Bel Bahadur Gurung, have also migrated out of the village to safer spaces in Kramuche and Proju Danda.
“After the landslide kept swallowing our land and approached our houses, we appealed to the government to help us build a dam,” Ram Bahadur said. “But we didn’t get any help. A group of ‘experts’ would come to observe occasionally. But nothing has come of those visits.”
Another local Kabi Jung Gurung says the villagers have been living under threat for years, especially during the monsoon. “During days, we live in our house but during rainy nights, we go to take shelter in our relatives’ houses, to another village,” he said.
Only last year, seven families migrated out of the village, which is home to a total of 85 households. Five families are in the process of moving out this year.
Locals say it’s not just their houses that are at risk due to landslides but also arable land. Because of the landslide, several patches of lands have cracked up; a school has also suffered damages.
Since the earthquakes of 2015, however, the government started to be a little more attentive to the crisis, Ram Bahadur said. “We registered our names in the list of families at risk but there has been negligence in maintaining the list: the names of those who are in dire need of help are missing.”
Jagadish Mishra, acting chief of District Project Implementation Unit, which falls under the ambit of National Reconstruction Authority, told the Post that 17 houses in upper Chipla are considered highly vulnerable. The government has allocated a total of Rs300,000 for those families. For those who do not own land to build new houses, the government provides an additional Rs200,000, according to Mishra.
Ten houses in Chipla have their own land suitable to construct new houses while seven need to purchase land, according to the unit. Some have started constructing houses taking loans while some are yet to start work. Mishra said that the distribution of compensation has also been halted due to a delay in signing an agreement with the ward office.
According to the unit, the landslide has spread over 2,200 hectare land, damaging arable land and community forest.