Ignoring risks of flood, locals are constructing houses at the banks of Mahakali in DarchulaA construction guideline was issued after the 2015 earthquakes, but it hasn’t been fully implemented yet.
The 2013 Mahakali flood caused mayhem in Khalanga, Darchula, destroying many houses and displacing hundreds of people. Nearly seven years since the disaster, new homes have sprung up in this riverside town. But many of these homes have been built without following the safety guidelines, say officials.
Prakash Sah, an engineer at Mahakali Municipality, said that he is surprised to see the construction of new houses in Khalanga going on, as the place is still at high risk of flood. “There are hardly any open spaces around the settlement,” he said. “One has to struggle to pass between the houses that are being constructed.”
A construction guideline was issued after the 2015 earthquakes, but it hasn’t been fully implemented yet. As a result, buildings that defy the guidelines are mushrooming in the town and its vicinities.
After the flood, a number of embankments had been erected to shield the bazaar area from possible floodings. But today, those embankments have turned to a motorable road, further exposing the district headquarters to risk.
“We are certain that the embankment will collapse,” said Sah. “Instead of being an antidote to the disaster, the embankments would play an ally.”
But the locals opting to construct their houses on the banks of the river have their own stories to tell. Nara Pati Badal, a resident of Bangabagad, said that a significant chunk of his land was lost in the Mahakali flood, and he is currently constructing a house in the remaining patch of land.
Narsingh Badal, acting chief administrative officer at the municipality, said the rampant construction of houses without following the construction guideline has increased the risks of impacts caused by disasters.
“The locals should be conscious of the scale of loss that a flood may cause,” he said.