Compensation eludes Koshi flood victims

ITAHARI: People, who were displaced by the flood fury in the Saptakoshi River more than two decades ago, want their long-standing woes to be addressed.

Khinamaya Khadka, 73, a resident of Mahendranagar in Sunsari, has been seeking justice for the past 22 years.

Similarly, three generations of Subarna Chaudhari, 28, have been living in a makeshift squatters’ settlement. At a conservative estimate, around 32,000 families were displaced in the floods. They are living in tenements in Mahendranagar, Prakashpur and Barahachetra — all public property — that is located adjacent to a forest. Raghunath Dhakal, 70, whose two bigha-plot was washed away, alleged that despite repeated attempts he was yet to receive any compensation in all these years.

“All that we have got from the authorities is 5 kg each of wheat and maize. Nepali Congress president Girija Prasad Koirala had won many an election, thanks to our support. But, in return, he did nothing for our welfare,” alleged the aggrieved locals.

In the Constituent Assembly (CA) polls last year, the CPN-UML won from the area.

But, UML CA member Bhim Acharya, too, has not been accused of letting down his constituents. While, Madan Bahadur Bhandari, 79, drew parallel with the last year’s Koshi flood victims, who have been adequately compensated for the natural disaster.

Khinamaya lamented that death would take her away before the relief could touch her life. Disappointed with the state apathy, the displaced have warned of sustained protest programmes if their demands, including permanent settlement, land ownership certificates and setting up of a panel to address their woes, were not met soon. Rajan Dhungana,

a local, explained that though several committees and panels were formed in the name of flood victims’ welfare, the exercise was a non-starter.

Rewati Raman Bhandari, a local UML leader, said that a memorandum would be submitted to Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal soon, highlighting the long-standing problem.