Most rural roads in Baglung are swept away by landslides during monsoonRepair works start in the winter season only to be severely damaged in the monsoons.
Last year, Badigad Rural Municipality enlisted Gwalichaur-Jaljala-Ranasinkiteni road as a pride project of the municipality. In the fiscal year 2018/19, the rural municipality had allocated a budget of Rs 10 million to upgrade the road after which it was widened and gravelled in some sections. Around 25km of the road section is in operation currently.
The upgradation work was underway during the winter season, but the monsoon, which brought floods and landslides, has left the entire road section heavily damaged. “Every year, we repair the road after the rains and initiate upgradation work again in the dry season. The entire stretch of the road is windy and risky and poor construction makes it all the more dangerous,” said Mehar Singh Paija, mayor of the rural municipality.
According to the representatives of the rural municipality, the local unit allocates budget to upgrade and repair the road every year. “We don’t have the exact figure but the municipality has spent millions on repair works,” said Paija.
The locals of Jaljala, Gwalichaur, Ranasinkiteni and Sishakhani depend on this road stretch to stay connected to Baglung bazaar where most of the trade happens for the villagers. But constant repair works on the road section leaves hundreds of villagers seeking for an alternative to using the dangerous road. “We have to risk our lives while travelling through the road from mid-June to mid-November,” said Hira Bahadur Paija, a local man.
Maya Malla, a native of Ranasinkiteni, said that pregnant women, senior citizens and patients are the worst hit by bad road conditions in the area. “I move to Baglung bazaar before the monsoon start and return only during the dry season,” said Malla, stating that villagers would rather move to safer locations than to commute through the risky road during monsoon. “Every year landslides caused by construction work on the road section sweeps away farmlands and villages are cut off.”
Pradeep Chandra Subedi, chief administrative officer of the rural municipality, put the blame squarely on contractors who are notorious for using heavy-equipment on roads vulnerable to landslides. “The contractors use heavy machinery for clearance and construction of roads which has over the years weakened our land,” said Subedi. “We have done what we can to control landslides by constructing retaining walls, roadside drains, and causeways.”
Amar Bahadur Shrisha, ward chairman of Badigad Ward No 8, said that most of the rural roads dug in winter gets swept away during the monsoon.
In Baglung Municipality too roads get swept away every year by landslides. Gyanendra Gautam, ward chairman of Baglung Ward No 11, said that most of the rural roads have been swept away by landslides in this monsoon. “Forget vehicles, even people can’t walk through these rural roads,” said Gautam.
The monsoon this year also triggered landslides in Dhullu, Kushmisera, Sigana and Gaja Daha of Jaimini Municipality.