Candidates fail to impress Sindhupalchok quake victimsFifty-four-year-old Parba Raj Giri of Sangachowk, Sindhupalchok was working in a field when the devastating earthquake on April 25 two years ago turned his two houses into rubble.
Fifty-four-year-old Parba Raj Giri of Sangachowk, Sindhupalchok was working in a field when the devastating earthquake on April 25 two years ago turned his two houses into rubble.
His daughter-in-law and granddaughter were pulled out of the debris after two hours by the locals.
Giri’s six-member family lived under tarpaulin sheets for about six months. The family now lives in a makeshift shelter of zinc sheets.
With elections just round the corner, Giri says his frustration has increased as candidates keep visiting his house with promises in return for votes.
“I have but one question for all the candidates—what were they doing when we were suffering,” he says. “I have strictly told them they lack the moral ground to seek votes.”
According to Giri, those who are running door-to-door campaigns and canvassing for votes were not available even to offer consolation.
He has so far received Rs 50,000—the first tranche of government aid—to rebuild his house. But it was just enough to clear the debris and level the land, he says.
“I have not been able to lay the foundation of the house as prescribed by the government. So I am not sure how I am going to have a roof over my head.”
Giri says he has made up his mind not to vote this time.
Katak Bahadur Joshi, 60, from a remote village of Katarche in district, narrates a similar story.
His house and a cowshed were destroyed in the earthquake. The family survived as they were working in a maze field when the disaster struck. A few non-government organisations came with some support—tarpaulin sheets, foodstuff and utensils—while the government provided Rs 15,000 as immediate relief. But that was hardly enough to buy two bundles of zinc sheets, he says, adding: “Political party leaders were nowhere to be seen.”
“Either candidates or those campaigning on their behalf have been visiting us on a daily basis with promises that they would help us if they get elected,” said Joshi. “In the last two years, I have very well understood what they are up to,” he adds with a tinge of contempt for party leaders.
Giri and Joshi’s statements reflect what most of the voters in Chautara Sangachowk Gadhi Municipality, one of the areas most affected by the quake in the district, feel.
As if the much-delayed reconstruction work was not enough to anger them, the ongoing election campaigns with lofty promises are adding to their frustration.
A total of 3,570 people were killed in the disaster in the district while 78,537 lost their houses. Even two years after the quake, only 1,506 houses have been reconstructed while 3,619 households are yet to receive the first tranche of the Rs 300,000 grant.
It’s not that party leaders who are in the fray are not aware of the local people’s anger.
“Lack of elected representatives is one of the major factors for the reconstruction delay,” says Keshav Raj Giri, a Nepali Congress candidate for the post of Chautara Sangachowk Municipality mayor. “We will try our best to ensure that the victims get roofs over their heads.”
District at a glance
198,428 : Voters in the district
27,985 : Voters in the municipality
8 : Mayor candidates
7 : Deputy mayor candidates
69 : Ward chairperson candidates (14 wards)
3,570 : People killed in 2015 quake
78,537 : People who lost their houses
1,506 : Houses reconstructed so far
3,619 : Households yet to receive the first tranche housing aid