Last year’s flood victims from Dhorpatan still await reliefSeveral government officials had reached the flood- and landslide-hit areas and announced relief packages but none of the promised funds has come through.
Mangali Sunar lost her house to the flooded Bhujikhola at Dhorpatan Municipality-9, Baglung in September last year.
The 42-year-old took shelter at a local school building for three months after the disaster. She visited the municipality office several times expecting help from the local authority to reconstruct her flood-ravaged house. But 15 months since the disaster and no help has been forthcoming.
“We were provided four sacks of rice and pulses soon after the floods. The regional committee of the Nepali Congress distributed a few zinc sheets a couple of days later. But we have not received a single rupee from the municipality,” said Mangali.
Tired of waiting for a government grant, Mangali has started reconstructing her house by taking loans from her neighbours and relatives.
Around Rs 25 million was donated by Baglung natives settled abroad as relief for the flood victims, said Mangali. The donated amount was with the municipality for nearly a year before the municipal office distributed it among the victims, but Mangali was not one of the recipients.
Following pressure from different quarters, the municipality distributed Rs 200,000 to each family affected by the devastating floods. Many victims built huts with the relief amount.
“Baglung natives who have settled abroad had donated money as relief for the victims but I haven’t received anything yet,” said Mangali.
The rain-swollen Bhujikhola stream had swept away 126 houses downstream in wards 8 and 9 of Dhorpatan Municipality on September 2 last year. As many as 22 people were killed in the flood while 15 others are still unaccounted for.
However, in its assessment of the damage, the municipality mentioned that only 97 houses were destroyed by the floods.
“Many flood victims were excluded from the list of beneficiaries. We have repeatedly asked the municipality to provide the relief amount to those victims left out of the list but to no avail,” said Nanda Sunar, the chairman of Ward 8 of Dhorpatan Municipality. “Many flood victims are still seeking shelter and struggling for food.”
Khim Kumari Pun, aged 33, lost her mother to the September floods when their house was swept away by the river. She stayed at a school building for six months before she built a small hut with the loan taken from friends and family.
“It’s hard to manage food. The government has not provided any relief yet,” she said.
Several government officials had reached the flood-and landslide-hit area and announced relief packages. The then Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa had announced that the federal government would provide at least Rs 300,000 to each family displaced by the floods and landslides to reconstruct their houses. The Gandaki provincial government had also declared a support of Rs 100,000 per family. But none of the funds has come through.
Bhim Bahadur Sunar, a local trader, lost his general store and a godown to the floods. He lost assets worth Rs 10 million to the floods, he claims. His eight-member family has been taking shelter at a neighbour’s house.
“The state did not provide any relief package to reconstruct our houses. I lost everything in the floods and without support from the government, I don’t know where to start,” said Bhim Bahadur.
The municipality admits that it hasn’t provided relief to all the flood victims for lack of funds.
“The municipality should provide 15 percent of the total relief amount provided by the federal and provincial governments, which amount to Rs 8.5 million. The municipality hasn’t been able to set aside that kind of money for relief,” said Devkumar Nepali, the mayor of Dhorpatan Municipality.