Nepal | July 06, 2020

Relocation plan


The Himalayan Times
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The families who are resettled should also have means of livelihood and income generation activities and be socially and culturally connected with their relatives

A cabinet meeting held yesterday decided to relocate the uninhabitable villages or settlements of the hilly districts hit hard by the April 25 earthquake and its aftershocks at safer locations within 15 days. The government has formed a three-member committee led by Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bamdev Gautam and Local Development Minister Prakash Man Singh and Urban Development Minister Dr. Narayan Khadka as committee members. The meeting decided to relocate 13,000 households from 18 districts, including Gorkha, Sindhupalchowk, Dolakha, Rasuwa and Dhading. It is said that 56 villages or settlements need to be relocated at safer or convenient places so that they are not completely isolated from their relatives; they can till the arable land that they have got and preserve their cultures and religions. The government decision came after experts from the Department of Mines and Geology recommended the government for relocation of these villages at risk of landslides.

The largest numbers of households to be relocated are in Ramechhap (5,548) followed by Gorkha (2,242), the epicenter of the quake, Solukhumbu (1,736), Dhading (1,742), Makwanpur (1,238), Sindhuli (807), Okhaldhunga (103) and Lamjung (59). The three-member committee will come up with a plan to relocate these households within 15 days. It appears to be quite an uphill task given the government’s inefficiency and lack of resources. Currently, the vulnerable groups have been taking shelters either in public schools, at their own villages risking further landslides, at relatives’ lands, government land or community forestry without any basic amenities. Geological experts have found more than 5000 dry landslides triggered by the quakes that have left many hilly settlements uninhabitable.

If the government comes up with a concrete plan, it will find no problem of resources as the friendly countries and development partners, including the World Bank and Japan, have pledged funding for reconstruction of houses in the quake-affected districts. The WB has pledged providing Rs 50 billion for the reconstruction of houses in the rural areas while Japan has shown interest in the area of urban development. As the government has decided to relocate the vulnerable settlements to safer places, the new ones must have all basic amenities such as access roads to markets, schools/colleges, health posts, electricity, communication facilities and the means of livelihood. The new settlements must be developed in such a manner that they will look like well-planned townships and that they will also encourage other scattered villages to converge into integrated settlements. The families who are resettled should also have means of livelihood and income generation activities and; they are socially and culturally well-connected with their relatives. Although the government has decided to relocate them at safer areas within 15 days, it has not fully identified such areas so far within the districts or outside. The government must also get an informed consent from the quake victims before their relocation.

Health at risk

It is not possible even to mention the things in which dishonest traders ply roaring trade in banned or substandard food items in the country. Just take three very recent cases in which the police seized, at Banasthali, Kathmandu, a truckload of dead chickens meant for sale at much cheaper prices. The gullible buyers would hardly find it out that they compromised their health in the process. But both retailers and suppliers stand to make a big cut — the former’s cost price would be several times less than their selling price, and the latter would recover at least part of the cost by selling the dead chickens which must legally and morally be rubbished.

The second case involved a cold store owner who was nabbed storing and selling dead chickens in and around the same area. The third involves the seizure and destruction in Rautahat of chickens illegally imported from across the southern border. But these examples constitute only the tip of the iceberg. This practice extends to almost any other food items, such as cooking oils, fruit chemically quickly ripened or enlarged, and date-expired items.

A version of this article appears in print on July 01, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.

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