Haphazard construction of rural roads causing landslidesThe construction of roads without proper surveys has been the leading cause of landslides in several places of the hill districts.
Three villagers were buried to death, another went missing and two others were rescued alive when a landslide occurred at Khahare in Kaligandaki Rural Municipality, Syangja, on Tuesday. Homnath Pandey, 68, was swept away some 20 metres below but was later rescued in an injured state. He is receiving treatment at Palpa Mission Hospital.
“We invited this disaster. We constructed a road on the pretext of developing infrastructure. The road was constructed through the forest and hill. We are the victims of haphazard development works,” said Pandey.
A road through Birgha of Kaligandaki to link with Ridi was constructed a few years ago. Tuesday’s massive landslide erupted from the road and killed four people, injured two and displaced four families. “The road caused many landslides in the area,” added Pandey.
On July 10, five people died when a landslide swept away a house in Sarangkot at Ward No. 18 of Pokhara Metropolitan City.
“The landslide occurred as the authorities concerned did not clear an old landslide debris that had swept away the road section last year. The weak retaining wall along the road section also contributed to the disaster,” claimed Sher Bahadur Thapa, a local.
In a similar incident, a landmound dumped while constructing a rural road at Ward No. 8 in Machhapuchchhre Rural Municipality, Kaski, fell on the house of Premraj BK on Friday, killing three of his grandchildren. Triggered by heavy rains, the landmound buried his tin-roof house. “I would not have faced such a tragedy if the road wasn’t constructed just above my house,” said BK.
According to Krishna Duwadi, the ward chairman of Machhapuchchhre-8, the rural road was constructed three years ago as per the demand of the local people. Eight families have been displaced due to the landslide in the village since Friday.
These water-induced disasters, which were mainly caused by haphazard construction of roads, are just to name a few. The construction of roads without proper surveys has been the leading cause of landslides in several places of the hill districts.
People’s representatives and conservationists have raised questions about the haphazard development works that have harmed the locals living in the area.
Speaking at the meeting of the Gandaki Provincial Assembly recently, lawmaker Bindu Kumar Thapa said roads are constructed in the last month of each fiscal year just to meet the target and are executed in haste without proper surveys.
“The haphazard construction of roads to avoid budget freeze is the main reason behind landslides. The landslide in Sarangkot is one such example,” claimed Thapa.
Almost all the local units in the province have prioritised road construction in their budget. Most of the roads were constructed by using excavators that completely ignored the possible impact on the environment.
Ishwor Chandra Marahatta, secretary at the provincial Ministry of Physical Infrastructure Development, said the rural roads constructed without proper surveys and designs are prone to landslides.
“There is an unhealthy competition to connect every household and village with a road network. The roads are constructed but they are not repaired or maintained on a regular basis,” said Marahatta.
According to Marahatta, many local bodies have been using excavators owned by people’s representatives in road construction projects.
“We are working to set standards for the construction of rural roads to prevent such natural disasters in future,” he said, adding that the ministry would gradually upgrade such landslide-prone roads as per the available means and resources.
As per the data available at the Gandaki Provincial Police Office, around 2,000 people have been displaced by landslides in various parts of the province this monsoon.
“During these field inspections, we found that most of these landslides were caused due to the haphazard construction of roads,” said Rajendra Adhikari, the information officer at the provincial police office.