Surkhet, September 25
Hundreds of families from Hariharpur in Surkhet, have been languishing in temporary shelters for the past three years after they were displaced from their homes due to floods.
As many as 115 people lost their lives and around 1,000 families were displaced across the district due to the flooding in local rivers and rivulets three years ago. The victims have been staying in temporary camps set up at various places including Birendranagar, Chincho’s Masina, Babiyachaur, Taranga and Girighat.
“Three years have passed but we’re still here; now we feel that we are to spend our entire lives like this,” lamented Sangita Nepali, a vicitm, in the Girighat-based temporary camp.
Hariharpur’s Man Bahadur Damai, who with his five-member family, has been living in the forest for three years lamented, “Dashain is here and I don’t know how we’ll enjoy the festival as we’re barely surviving.” The majority of victims in Girighat camps are from Dalit and indigenous communities, most of them make a living by crushing stones on river banks and with other low-paying jobs.
Though the government has extended assistance to victims to construct their homes, most of them have yet to build their houses. The government had provided Rs 50,000 to victim families to purchase land last fiscal. As per sources with the Urban Development and Building Construction Department, Division Office, a total of Rs 29.9 million was distributed to 192 families.
The government further offered Rs 3 lakh for house construction. The flood victims, are however, yet to avail the housing grant as they are yet to buy land citing the meagre land purchase grant. “We have to submit land ownership certificate to claim housing grant but as we’re unable to buy a strip of land with the meagre amount of Rs 50,000, there is no point in making a home,” said a victim.
Official data prepared by the district natural disaster rescue committee showed that 715 houses were completely damaged by floods and landslides in Surkhet three years ago. Another 215 houses had suffered minor damage.
A version of this article appears in print on September 26, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.