Quake victims living in constant fear of landslides

Dolakha, June 24

For some 34 households at Thangbaru and Dorpatole  in Kalinchowk Rural Municipality of Dolakha, rain always rings an alarm. Each time it starts raining, the villagers fear for their life. But they don’t have any option other than to stay on despite impending danger.

Ever since the devastating 2015 quake, they return to their village for six months to cultivate their land, while they spend the winter in a forest above the village.

“As we’ve our farmland here, we can’t leave this place simply because we need food to sustain our life; but the reality is you never know when there will be a landslide,” lamented 74-year-old Bed Shankar Bhandari.

Further, Bhandari harked back to the landslide tragedy that caused 12 deaths 35 years ago. “It was a massive landslide that took the lives of my fellow villagers; some were displaced after the disaster,” he said. “We know there is a looming risk in this village, but don’t have any alternative as everything, from our home to land, is here,” he added, bemoaning the government’s apathy to relocating them elsewhere.

“Who would want to stay on here in risk? But we don’t have any option unless the government arranges alternative place for us to live and farm. We can’t afford to buy land elsewhere on our own,” said another local Ramji Karki, 57, of Dorpa Tole, who has also got his house reconstructed just recently. “As no one cautioned me against the impeding danger, I built my house for shelter,” he said.

In fact, residents of these villages reached out to the district administration office to urge it to shift the risky settlements elsewhere, but to no avail. “No matter how much we tell them, they simply wouldn’t listen to us,” lamented Jaya Bahadur Khatri of Thangbaru.

Earlier, an team of experts assigned by the government in the wake of the tremor had assess the condition and recommended that more than 100 villages, including Dorpatole and Thangbaru be shifted elsewhere. But until long after the recommendation was made, not a single settlement has been moved to a safe place. Though the government had once entrusted Nepal Army with the construction of a collective residence here, the proposed facility too could not be constructed owing to a dispute over land.