Victims of last month’s Pyuthan landslides languish in school buildingsAuthorities concerned have offered assurances but haven’t done anything to resettle the displaced victims yet, they say.
Uma Budhathoki Magar, a nursing mother in her mid-thirties, has been staying at a local school building in Airawati Rural Municipality-4 for the past month. After a landslide damaged her house on October 5, she had no alternative but to take shelter at the community school building. The landslide left the whole Tigrapatal village, Magar’s native, at high risk.
While the local unit has managed food for Airawati’s displaced people, the condition of the makeshift habitat in the school is poor, more so for a new mother like Magar.
“I have a small baby in my lap, and the temperature is gradually decreasing,” Magar said. “We don’t know when we will return home. Nobody has visited us to inquire about our plight except the rural municipal authority.”
Landslides triggered by heavy rains in Tigrapatal last month displaced as many as 23 families, most of whom have been taking shelter at the school. Various social organisations and individuals have provided relief materials to the displaced through the local unit.
With federal and provincial elections around the corner, political leaders, candidates and cadres have intensified their activities across the district. But they have totally ignored the plight of the displaced, residents say.
“The candidates walk along the way distributing their publicity materials and election messages but they haven’t entered the school where we are taking shelter which is just below the main road,” Magar said.
Another displaced victim, Sanu Budha Magar, said, “The party leaders used to visit our doorsteps in the previous elections canvassing votes. They assured us to construct roads, drinking water projects, electricity and airports. But they do not even visit us when we are in difficulties.”
Moreover, the residents have a more immediate threat to worry about.
A hill just above Tigrapatal village has developed huge cracks, leaving the whole settlement at high risk, residents say, adding that political parties and their leaders have remained tight-lipped about the situation of the flood and landslide victims.
Like elsewhere in the country, last month’s heavy rains caused widespread damage in Pyuthan, a hill district in Lumbini Province. Alongside Tigrapatal’s 23 families, the landslides displaced 50 families of Markawang and Dhanchaur villages of Mandabi Rural Municipality. Many of them set up makeshift habitats in community buildings and schools.
And with many schools resuming their classes on Monday after the festive vacations, the displaced inhabitants are now worried about finding another shelter.
The authorities concerned, however, haven’t taken any initiatives for their rehabilitation, residents say.
When Chief Minister of Lumbini Province Kul Prasad KC and other high level officials visited the landslide-affected villages of Tigrapatal, Markawang and Dhanchaur after the natural disasters, the residents were hopeful that they’d be resettled soon. The visiting group had promised that a technical team would study the risk of landslides in the villages and help the displaced resettle.
But any move towards that is yet to be taken, with victims left frustrated.
“I am fed up with the leaders’ assurances,” said Shivalal Pun Magar, a landslide victim from Mandabi-2. “I don’t like to hear the name of the parties and their leaders anymore.”