Life has been difficult for hundreds of families displaced from their homes in Bajura's remote Himali Rural Municipality.

According to Himali Rural Municipality Chairperson Govind Bahadur Malla, 40 families in Faiti village in Ward 4 and 97 families in Kyudi of Ward 5 of Himali Rural Municipality were displaced after the ground in their villages caved in. "The ground in the villages developed cracks and caved in, apparently due to the road dug from below the villages.

While some houses have already crumbled, the others which are still standing are at risk," said Area Police Office Kolti in-charge Devendra Joshi, who returned after conducting field monitoring of the villages.

The cave-in was caused by the under-construction Rugin-Bichhyan access road built with the provincial government's investment.

Given the risk caused by the cave-in, the villagers are staying in the forest of Jorgaun, which is about an hour's trek from the villages. "It's been about a week since we left our villages and came here," said Bir Bahadur Budha, a victim and also a ward member.

"Some are staying in sheds made for cattle, others in caves and still others by making makeshift shelters from tree twigs and the likes," Budha said, adding that many, mostly kids and the elderly, were falling ill. Another victim Mansari Budha lamented the shortage of drinking water and food grains. "As it's a forest, we don't have water to drink and no food to make ends meet," Mansari said, adding that most of them had no food to eat.

As per the rural municipality's data, around 600 people of 100-plus families have been displaced from the villages and are living in the forest and other shelters now.

"We know what they may have been going through, but, as the place is a remote one, it's been difficult to manage relief for them," said Himali Rural Municipality's acting Chief Administrative Officer Raj Bahadur Bhandari, adding that efforts were on to provide relief to the displaced lot.

Chief District Officer Gopal Kumar Adhikari said a team of security personnel returned to the headquarters on Sunday after monitoring the situation in the cave-in-affected areas of Himali Rural Municipality.

"For now, we have provided 30 quintals of rice and tarpaulins to the rural municipality to distribute to the victims," said the CDO.

Rural Municipality Chairperson Govind Malla accused the provincial government of not coordinating with the local government while constructing the road, and putting the villages at risk. "It's true that the villagers have been displaced because of the road construction being carried out without conducting proper study," Malla said, adding that efforts to relocate displaced families were on.

A version of this article appears in the print on July 8 2021, of The Himalayan Times.