Monsoon brings more misery to Dhading villagesEvery year, the rainy season causes loss of lives, displacement of people, and destruction of property in the landslide-prone district.
Netra Prasad Khand, 55, died on the night of June 9 when his house got swept away by a landslide while he was asleep. His wife Kanmaya Khand was staying at the new house the couple had built after the 2015 earthquake damaged their old house.
Continuous rainfall in the preceding week followed by heavy rainfall on June 9 triggered the landslide at Agnichok in Tripura Sundari Rural Municipality-5, Dhading that killed Netra.
“It was raining heavily that night. Loose stones and boulders were rolling down the hill. It soon turned into a mudslide and then a full-fledged landslide,” said 55-year-old Kanmaya. “I screamed for my husband who had gone to sleep in our old house but the storm drowned out my screams.”
About two hours later, the neighbours heard Kanmaya’s call for help and went to rescue the couple. “But my husband was already buried in the landslide,” she said.
Netra’s body was recovered from the landslide debris the next day. He is survived by his wife and son, who had gone to Korea for foreign employment a month and a half before the disaster.
Eighty-four-year-old Dhanmaya Sarki also died in a landslide last Thursday at Budhathum, Gangajamuna Rural Municipality-7.
Incessant rainfall since last week has affected several settlements in Gangajmuna and Tripura Sundari rural municipalities. Every year, monsoon brings about loss of lives, displacement of people, and destruction of property in the area.
Around 62 houses have been swept away by landslides while 217 houses have been damaged in Gangajamuna Rural Municipality this month alone. There was one casualty.
In Tripura Sundari Municipality, landslides have killed one person and damaged nearly 161 houses this year.
According to Tul Kumari BK, 55, of Bhirmauri in Gangajamuna Rural Municipality-5, her house was badly damaged in a landslide on June 14. She has moved out of her house and is currently taking shelter at her neighbour’s property.
“I have pitched a tent in my neighbour’s field because our house is badly damaged. The threat of being swept away by landslides compelled us to leave our house,” she said.
Most settlements in Gangajamuna and Tripura Sundari rural municipalities were greatly affected by the 2015 earthquakes with most houses either completely or partially damaged.
People living in the damaged houses haven’t been at peace since the earthquake, says BK.
“The earthquake has left the landmass here with huge cracks and loose soil,” said BK. “Every rainy season is a curse for us. When it rains, we have no choice but to sit and wait for the disaster to pass.”
The settlements are now dotted with concrete houses alongside the old damaged ones but the locals say that even the new structures face the risk of being swept away or buried by landslides.
“The topography has become weak since 2015 so even if we build concrete houses, it’s not going to help us survive a landslide,” said Bal Bahadur Bhandari of Chhapathok in Tripura Sundari Rural Municipality-6. “We haven’t been able to sleep since the monsoons began. It has been this way since 2015. Some of us are currently living under a tarpaulin tent while others have gone to their relatives.”
The Nepal Red Cross Society, Dhading, in collaboration with the District Administration Office and the rural municipal office has provided tarpaulin, appliances, blankets and food to the landslide-displaced families.
Landslides have damaged crops, livestock and food and swept away property in several wards of Gangajamuna and Tripura Sundari rural municipalities.
On July 21, 2019, an entire settlement of 92 individuals from 21 households in Bahrabise of Gajuri Rural Municipality-2 was displaced by a landslide. The landslide-displaced families have been demanding the government for safe relocation but the authorities have yet to address their demands.
The rural municipality has allotted a leased property for the landslide-displaced to settle in but the victims say it is not the solution they are looking for.
“In 2019, our settlement got swept away by a landslide. At first, we took shelter in the house of a relative but after some time, we moved to the leased land provided by the municipality and put up a tent there,” said Sun Bahadur Tamang of Bahrabise in Gajuri Rural Municipality-2. “I have a family of six and we have been living in the same tent for the last three years. I work hard every day to provide food for my family. If I get sick my family will starve. So I cannot even afford to be sick.”
According to Chief Administrative Officer of Gangajamuna Rural Municipality Ram Chandra Itani, the local unit has provided the landslide-displaced families with some relief materials, such as two bundles of zinc sheets, groceries and tarpaulin, among others.
Rameshwar Simkhada, vice chairman of Gangajamuna Rural Municipality, said although there is no long-term solution to the problems faced by the landslide victims, the rural municipality is providing temporary relief under the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority.
“A committee has been formed to evaluate and develop schemes for the safety and well-being of the victims. We are working on finding long-term solutions,” he said.