Relief efforts take a hit in disaster-hit DhorpatanLast week’s floods and landslide have damaged sections of Burtibang-Dhorpatan road, cutting off affected villages in Dhorpatan Municipality from the district headquarters.
The flood and landslide that occurred at Bhujikhola in Dhorpatan Municipality Ward No. 9, Baglung, a week ago have damaged around 20 kilometres of the 36km Burtibang-Dhorpatan road section, cutting off disaster-hit areas from the district headquarters of Baglung Bazaar. Relief distribution has also taken a hit because of disruption in the road connectivity, say authorities.
The flooded Bhujikhola had swept away at least 80 houses downstream in Wards 7, 8 and 9 of Dhorpatan Municipality on September 2. After the disaster, more than 1,000 families in the disaster-hit areas and the Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve Area have been disconnected from the rest of the municipality and the district headquarters.
Authorities are facing difficulties in distributing reliefs to the flood and landslide victims in Deurali and Paleghar.
“Relief materials have to be carried to Deurali and Phaleghar in Ward No. 9 because the road connecting these villages to Burtibang has been disrupted,” said Dhan Prasad Pokharel, chief administrative officer of Dhorpatan Municipality. According to him, relief materials meant for the victims are currently stuck at the municipality office in Burtibang. “Some organisations and individuals have been distributing relief in areas that are accessible by road. But they haven’t been able to reach remote areas where relief is most needed.”
According to the Area Police Office in Burtibang, telephone services have also been affected in the area since telephone poles were either uprooted or swept away in last week’s disaster.
“Relief distribution and relocation of victims have become difficult because telephone services have been disrupted in all three affected wards,” said Prakash Singh Bhandari, inspector at the Area Police Office. “We don’t know what’s going on in those villages since reaching there has become impossible because of the disruption in road networks.”
Last week’s disaster has severely affected electricity supply, drinking water projects and telephone services in the three wards of the municipality.
“Three micro hydropower projects were swept away and two mobile phone towers were damaged in the Bobang area,” said Yam Bahadur Kayat, a resident of Dhorpatan Ward No. 8. “There is no electricity in the villages. I had to walk to Burtibang from my village just to make a phone call and charge my mobile phone.”
The municipal office is making efforts to clear the landslide debris from the roads and repair damaged road sections in order to resume vehicular movement.
“So far, 17 bodies have been recovered from the debris; 21 people are still missing,” Dev Kumar Nepali, mayor of the municipality, told the Post. “We are trying to expedite repair work along the damaged road sections so that we can use heavy equipment to clear the landslide debris and speed up relief distribution in the incident sites.”
After the disaster, locals have started using a foot trail to reach Burtibang from their villages. But according to the ward office, the foot trail has also been partially damaged by last week’s flood and landslide.
“It’s risky to walk along the foot trail. The flood and landslide have weakened the trail,” said Nepali.
Chief District Officer in Baglung Suresh Neupane said the District Administration Office has mobilised 40 security personnel from the Nepal Police, 35 from the Armed Police Force and others from the Nepal Army to carry out search and rescue operations in the affected areas. “Two excavators are currently being used to remove landslide debris from the road. We hope to open the road by Dashain,” said Neupane.
According to Hari Bahadur Ghartimagar, the chairman of Ward No. 9, most of the residents of the disaster-hit areas had left for the highlands at the beginning of the monsoon season to graze their cattle. They usually make their way back to their villages at the onset of winter.
“But some of them have lost their families in the disaster and they need to come back to identify the bodies. Since the roads are damaged, it’s difficult for them to make their way back to their villages,” said Ghartimagar.