People of settlements prone to landslides and floods in Sindhupalchok living in abject fearSindhupalchok has been battered by a series of natural disasters over the past decade, with over 3,375 households in the district at risk of landslides.
Chakradhwaj Tiwari, a resident of Ramche Sahele in Bahrabise Municipality-9, has been restless since the monsoon began. The landmass above his settlement has caved in and could result in landslides, he says. His house is also at risk of floods from the nearby Andheri stream.
“The stream gets flooded when it rains in the area. The entire settlement is at high risk of landslides as the construction of Tamakoshi transmission line has been left incomplete,” said Chakradhwaj.
According to him, the land just above the settlement has caved in because of pits that were dug to place utility poles for the Tamakoshi transmission line.
On Sunday, the flooded Andheri stream swept away an animal shed and damaged the paddy field of Krishna Tiwari, a resident of Ramche Sahele. Krishna managed to take his buffaloes and cattle to safer places before the shed was swept away.
“We feel as if we are living on the edge every day. We don’t know when the floods and landslides will sweep away the whole settlement,” Krishna told the Post. “After what happened in Lidi and Ghumthang Gagpuje in the past, we cannot be too cautious.”
According to Krishna Bahadur Rayamajhi, the ward chief of Bahrabise-9 who recently visited the area, around 50 houses at Sahele, Chambote, Pipalbot, Bhirkuna and Pakha Chautara in the ward are at risk of landslides.
People of several settlements in Sindhupalchok, a hill district of Bagmati Province, are living in abject fear of landslides. Sindhupalchok has been battered by a series of natural disasters over the past decade. The earthquake of 2015—which killed 3,570 people and destroyed over 90,000 houses— has made the district’s topography vulnerable to landslides, geologists say.
As per the data available at the District Police Office in Sindhupalchok, landslides had swept away Bhirkharka Nagpuje and BK Tole of Bahrabise-7 on 13 September 2020, killing 15 people. Sixteen people went missing in the calamity.
On July 9 of the same year, the flooded Bhotekoshi and the Kabhre Thadokhola stream swept away 19 people while a total of 145 people were killed and 127 families displaced in the Jure landslide on August 2, 2014.
“The village is encircled by multiple landslides. Since most of the villagers don’t have land elsewhere, we have to stay in the settlement even though it is at high risk of landslides,” said Somati BK of Bhotekoshi Rural Municipality-1. She complained that the villagers had repeatedly requested the people’s representatives and government authorities to relocate them to safer areas but to no avail.
Somati still remembers last year’s disaster.
“It was night time. There was a commotion in the village as multiple landslides had erupted nearby. We hurried to the Tatopani dry port with my nine family members,” she recalled.
The settlement is still at high risk of landslides, she says. The villagers expressed their dissatisfaction stating that the people’s representatives and the authorities concerned are indifferent towards their problem.
“We submitted a number of applications and memorandum to the offices of the ward, rural municipality, district administration and the ministry requesting them to relocate 51 families who are at high risk of landslides. We also visited the lawmakers and ministers. They assured us that they would address our problem but have done nothing so far,” said Ram Krishna BK of Listikot in Bhotekoshi-1. According to him, a team of geologists visited the settlement last year and recommended the relocation of its residents at the earliest.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority under the Ministry of Home Affairs submitted its report to the State Affairs and Good Governance Committee of the House of Representatives last year, stating that 3,375 households of various settlements in Sindhupalchok district are at risk of landslides.
A geological study conducted in 2021 in Bahrabise Municipality pointed out that 13 settlements of the local unit are at high risk of landslides and floods. A six-member technical team, including geologists Lekh Prasad Bhatta and Govinda Pathak, had visited more than 50 settlements of the municipality for the geological study. The technical team listed around 5,000 households of 13 settlements, including Sigarche, Nagpuje, Karthali, Jambu, Bukam and Sotang, as being at high risk of landslides and recommended the authorities concerned to take initiatives for their relocation.
However, those landslide-prone settlements are yet to be shifted. Thirty families in Sigarche are still living with high risk of landslides as the land just above the village has developed cracks.