Landslides and floods threaten many settlements in mid-hill regionHaphazard construction of rural roads have raised the risk of landslides and erosions, road engineers say.
Several landslides have occurred along the Siddhartha Highway, Tansen-Ridi road and other rural roads in Palpa, Arghakhanchi and Gulmi districts since the monsoon arrived in Nepal earlier this month.
In Palpa, a landslide at Bandipokhara of Tansen swept away four vehicles killing four people on Monday while the search is ongoing for the missing.
Around a dozen landslides have occurred along the Tansen-Ridi road section since the second week of June. More than a dozen landslides have also occurred along the Harthok-Arghakhanchi road section while electricity has been cut off in various parts of Ribdikot, Rainadevi Chhahara and Tinau for the last three days after landslides damaged the power lines.
In Arghakhanchi, the Gorusinghe-Sandhikharka road section that leads to the district headquarters has been obstructed for the last five days. Officials say continuous rainfall has hindered the efforts to resume the traffic along the road.
Similarly, a landslide triggered by the monsoon downpour killed two people when a moving vehicle was buried at Hadhade area in Dhurkot of Gulmi district four days ago.
At least 22 families in Ishma and Resunga villages in the district were also displaced after landslides struck their settlements. The district administration office said around a dozen houses in Satyawati and Musikot villages were at high risk of landslides.
Over the years, excessive use of heavy equipment to construct roads and other infrastructure in the mid-hill regions has raised the risk of natural disasters such as floods, landslides and soil erosion.
Binod Ghimire, a local resident of Tansen Municipality-5, said, “Road expansions in the villages are happening at a rapid pace and the local authorities have not been considering the environmental impact while starting infrastructure development works in fragile topography.”
Bishnu Prasad Shrestha, an engineer based in Palpa, said, “Rural roads are carved out on slopes without considering the topography. This has increased the risk of landslides in hilly areas. In rural areas, dozer drivers are given the responsibility of an engineer and they possess no technical expertise or knowledge about constructing roads on hilly sections.”
Ram Prasad Shrestha, an engineer in Palpa, said, “The local unit should think about the environmental impact before digging roads. All rural roads were dug up without technical assessment, which has raised the risk of floods and erosions during monsoon.”
According to Durga Banjade, assistant chief district officer, Hungi of Rambha, Shreedanda, Koldanda, Masyam and Dhovan of Tinau, Gejha of Rampur, Bikot of Purba Khola, Khasyeuli of Robdikot, Salahakot and Jyamire of Nisdi and Besi area of Kaligandaki are at high risk of landslides.
“There’s landslide risks at Tansen-Harthok, Harthok Chhahara, Siddhartha Highway, Aryabhanjyang-Rampur and Kaligandaki corridor as well. These roads are at risk of landslides because of road expansion.” said Banjade.
More than 200 families are at risk of landslides in Palpa alone.
The local units are supposed to allocate funds for disaster risk management, but most local authorities have said that they lack the budget. Ram Bahadur Karki, chairman of Rainadevi Chhahara Rural Municipality, said they have allocated a limited budget for disaster management in the current fiscal year because of financial constraints.
Meanwhile, Narayan Bahadur GC, chairman of Ribdikot Rural Municipality, believes that the funds from the local government alone will not be enough to mitigate and manage natural disasters.
“All three tiers of governments should coordinate to mitigate disasters in rural areas,” he said.
The Disaster Risk and Management Act 2017 states that federal, provincial and local units should be mobilised in an integrated way to minimise and manage disasters.
Currently, all government bodies are focused on combating coronavirus, said Bijayaraj Paudel, chief district officer in Arghakhanchi.
“We could not focus towards limiting the risk of disaster this monsoon due to the coronavirus pandemic,” he said.
According to the District Administration Office in Arghakhanchi, Sandhikharka, Shitaganga, Malarani, Bhumikasthan, Chhatradev, and Padini areas are at high risk of floods and landslides.