Landslide-displaced people worry about their futureMany families who were driven by the landslide in Lidi are not assured by the government’s plan to resettle them.
Thirty-two bodies have been recovered from the landslide debris in Lidi, Sindhupalchok, as of Sunday while seven more are still missing. The locals are mourning the dead but are also worried about the future of those who survived.
"We have to move on. The rest of us need food and shelter. We are currently focussing on managing the basics,” said 54-year-old Sanga Bahadur Dong, one of the displaced villagers.
A massive landslide had struck Lidi village on August 14, destroying 17 houses and damaging 37 others. As many as 39 villagers perished and 135 families were displaced in the disaster.
Jugal Rural Municipality, in coordination with the District Administration Office, is planning to relocate the displaced families of Lidi to Baskharka in Ward No 1. The authorities have pitched as many as 98 tents on the forestland belonging to Baskharka Community Forest as temporary shelter for the displaced.
But the displaced villagers are worried that the government may not make arrangements for a permanent settlement for them elsewhere. They are not keen on settling in Baskharka permanently since the area is not suitable for farming, says Aangdorje Dong, one of the landslide victims.
"Two weeks ago, the landslide destroyed our house and our farmland. I am now leaving behind my ancestral village and the land I tilled my entire life. I don't know how we will survive now,” said Aangdorje. “The government should give us land on par with what we had in Lidi," said the 60-year-old. "We are farmers and farming is all we know. We can’t do anything else.”
"For the time being, we are ready to go wherever the government has arranged temporary shelters for us. But we cannot live in tents forever. We need land to grow crops and vegetables. We won’t have food to eat if we don’t have land,” said Resham Dong, another displaced villager.
According to Chief District Officer Umesh Kumar Dhakal, a committee has been formed under the District Coordination Committee to discuss the permanent relocation of the displaced families to a suitable place.
“The landslide-displaced people have been moved to Baskharka for now. Permission of the forest office is essential for the displaced villagers to settle there for the long-run," said Dhakal. “The committee will conduct research for a suitable location for the resettlement of the displaced. They will recommend the authorities accordingly,” he said. “The issue of land compensation as demanded by the displaced families will be decided later.”
As many as 42 families of Lidi had started living in Baskharkha before the village was struck by a landslide. But they were compelled to return to their landslide-prone settlement after the forest authority evicted them from Baskharka.
Meanwhile, a majority of the displaced families have now moved to Lapsedanda near Lidi rather than going to Baskharka.
According to Pratap Lama, chairman of Jugal Ward No. 2, after the disaster, around 40 families have been preparing to stay in the Lapsedanda area.
"We will make a permanent arrangement for all the displaced families soon. We are holding talks with the rural municipality and other concerned authorities for their long-term resettlement," said Lama.
Sanga Bahadur Dong says he is preparing to resettle in Lapsedanda permanently since he does not trust the authorities to resettle him elsewhere if he moves to Baskharka.
“The government seems intent on keeping us in tents,” he said. “I don’t want to move to the forest area where there is no cultivable land. I am building a small hut in Laspsedanda and I will live here until the government compensates us for the damage.”