Flood victims in Surkhet await resettlement for past six yearsOnly a few families have received half the grant announced by the provincial government while the rest have received none.
In August 2014, floods hit several villages in Surkhet and displaced around 970 families. Twenty-four people were killed in the disaster while 91 others are still unaccounted for or declared dead.
Following the disaster, the federal government had prepared a working guideline to provide relief to the flood-affected families on par with the survivors of the 2015 earthquakes. According to the government data, 239 flood-affected families have demanded they be resettled in safer locations.
In the last fiscal year, the Karnali provincial government had also announced a monetary package to the flood-displaced families. The working guideline promised Rs 300,000 each to the flood-displaced families who only have to construct their houses and an additional Rs 200,000 to those who need to purchase land plots. So far, only a few families have received half the grant while the rest have received none.
Although the government had planned to construct houses for the flood victims by the end of the last fiscal year, not a single house has been constructed so far. Among the total flood victims, 514 families had demanded a relief amount to construct houses whereas 292 families had demanded relief for both house construction and land purchase.
For the last six years, the flood-affected families of Surkhet have been taking shelter in camps at Masina, Girighat, Tikhakuna and Women’s Training Centre in Birendranagar, among other areas in the district. Nara Bahadur Rokaya, a flood survivor currently taking shelter at the Women's Training Centre, said the government has yet to offer them any support.
“We have received no relief or compensation for our loss. We don’t know how much longer we will have to stay here,” Rokaya said.
In March 2019, the provincial government had formed an 11-member probe committee in coordination with Naresh Bhandari, minister for Internal Affairs and Law, for the resettlement of the flood victims. The committee concluded that there are 1,045 flood-affected families in Surkhet in need of relief.
The committee also announced that it would distribute Rs 300,000 each to the flood-affected families after the formation of the committee.
In the fiscal year 2018-19, the government had allocated a budget of Rs 315 million for the resettlement of the displaced flood victims. But the decision is yet to be implemented.
“In the last fiscal year, the government had provided Rs 96.6 million to eight local units in Surkhet so that each flood-affected family could get Rs 50,000 as first installment,” said Mohan Kumar Jaishawal, an account officer at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Law.
According to Haribhakta Bishwokarma, a non-gazetted first class officer at the Disaster Section of the ministry, 591 flood-affected families of eight local units received Rs 50,000 as the first tranche of the aid.
Minister Bhandari also said that his office has already sent Rs 59 million to the respective local units to be distributed as a second installment. The families who received the first tranche will receive Rs 100,000 as the second tranche of the aid.
According to Bhandari, the government has allocated Rs 50million budget to construct residences for flood victims in the upcoming fiscal year.
“Half the affected families are yet to receive the first installment. They will receive the installment in the upcoming fiscal year,” Bhandari said.