Landslide-displaced families await relocationMore than a hundred families from two villages in Sankhuwasabha were displaced by a landslide two monsoons ago. The displaced are still living in temporary shelters.
On the night of July 11, 2020, a landslide swept through Besinda village of Silichong Rural Municipality-1, destroying 86 houses. Eleven people went missing and four were rescued alive by the villagers.
Chepchewa, the village which sits directly below Besinde, suffered huge property damage from the landslide but was saved from any loss of life.
Bhimsari Rai, Bhim Bahadur Rai and Gowa Singh Rai and his daughter Phulmaya Rai from Besinda were rescued 12 hours after being trapped in the landslide debris.
“That night I was preparing to go to bed when the ground started shaking. My 79-year-old father was already trapped under the debris. I somehow managed to extract him from the debris and we hid under a huge boulder all night. The villagers rescued us in the morning,” said Phulmaya Rai.
The District Disaster Management Committee and some NGOs provided immediate relief materials, including tents, to the victims. Most of the houses in the two villages were either fully or partially damaged by the landslide.
The displaced victims moved towards the Bihibare market in Silichong seeking safe shelter. Almost two years since the incident, the survivors are still living under tents in Bihibare waiting for the authorities to resettle them permanently.
A few months after the landslide, the rural municipality said it would provide permanent resettlement to 106 households, including 86 from Besinde and 20 from Chepchewa.
“That was 20 months ago and we are still waiting. We want a permanent shelter before the rainy season starts,” said Dilip Kulung, another displaced victim from Besinde who has been living under a tent with his family of four for over a year now.
The survivors and victims have submitted all the necessary documents to the local level with regard to their resettlement, but they have not heard back from any of the authorities, says Kulung.
The District Disaster Management Committee and Silichong Rural Municipality-1 have decided to relocate the victims to Khandbari Municipality area and Bakhaltum of Silichong.
“We are working in coordination with the District Disaster Management Committee. The committee has decided to relocate 106 households to a safer place,” said Ram Kumar Kulung, chairman of Silichong Rural Municipality-1.
Bhim Bahadur Rai, a survivor, also complains that even though the paperwork was completed from the local level and the District Disaster Management Committee, the resettlement process has yet to begin.
“The landslide took my house and all my belongings. I was rescued by the villagers for which I am very thankful but living 20 months under a tent during the winter and rain is killing us slowly,” said Bhim Bahadur Rai.
The rural municipality claims that it has completed all the required procedures and communicated with the disaster management committee but the land purchase committee has stated that the procurement process was halted due to lengthy legal process and insufficient documents.
According to Degeswari Shrestha, deputy chief of Khandbari Municipality and the land search committee, the delay in work to provide land to the victims is due to faults in the Detailed Project Report submitted by Silichong Rural Municipality.
“I can see the suffering of the victims but I cannot do anything unless Silichong Rural Municipality completes all the documentation. The District Administration Office rejected the proposal of resettlement for a lack of proper documents,” said Shrestha.
“The carelessness of the local level and the local administration has turned the landslide victims into squatters,” said Bhimsari Rai, a survivor.