Locals detain engineers

Dhangadi, July 13

Locals of Malumela, Bajhang, today detained two engineers deployed for a road survey, irked by the inaction of local authorities regarding the matter of shifting households at risk of landslides.

Baitadi Road Division Office Engineer Surendra Nepal and Assistant Engineer Prakash Shrish were taken hostage while returning to their office upon completing the survey of Aambagar-Phakali road section of Chainpur-Dipayal road today, a day after they had reached the site, by angry locals before a police team deployed from the local Matela Police Post rescued them.

The engineers were then brought to the police post for security reasons.

Locals of Malumela and Aambagar have long been demanding relocation of households that are under constant risk of being buried by landslides triggered by the drive to open a new track for the Chainpur-Dipayal road, and for relief and compensation for the houses damaged.

“The locals had detained the engineers and were verbally abusing them before they were rescued,” said Assistant Inspector and in-charge at the police post Chet Bahadur Budhaeir.

Bishwo Prakash Joshi, a local, said that his family has been bereft of a good night’s sleep for the past month after debris started falling from above. “Ever since the road construction project triggered the landslides, a large swathe of our land and a few houses have been buried and dozens of other families are likely to be displaced,” he said.

“With no response to our plight from the concerned authority, we had no option but to take drastic measures to get their attention,” added Joshi, who demanded that the authorities assess the threat to households in the village and relocate them.

Eight houses have been damaged so far due to falling boulders during the reconstruction of the road and four other families have been displaced owing to this threat. The village comprises 25 families.

On his part, Chief District Officer Sunil Khanal pledged to do the needful to resolve the problem and return the engineers to their office.