Nepal

Seven years since the Mahakali floods, victims await compensation

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Residents of Khalanga fear possible floods every monsoon, as the embankments that were damaged seven years ago are yet to be reconstructed.

Manoj Badu

Darchula

It’s been seven years since the Mahakali floods swept away 56 homes and killed at least 12 people in Darchula district, but the displaced flood victims are still awaiting compensation and resettlement.

On the night of June 16, 2013, the flooded Mahakali broke its embankments and entered Khalanga, the district headquarters of Darchula, resulting in loss of lives and property.

Every year with the onset of monsoon, the locals in the area fear possible floods, as the embankments that were damaged seven years ago are yet to be reconstructed.

Since the government has not brought any concrete programme to resettle flood victims, most of them are on the verge of being displaced from the district headquarters.

“The government did not bring any relief package and it still hasn’t resettled us. In the past seven years, all it has done is hand out Rs 35,000 to each flood-affected families,” Kamal Singh Dhami, a resident of Khalanga who was displaced by the Mahakali floods, told the Post. “Most families who lost their property to the flood have moved away while some are still taking shelter with their relatives.”

According to the estimate prepared by the District Administration Office, the floods of 2013 had swept away houses, land plots and shops of 353 families and destroyed properties worth more than Rs1.27 billion.

Ragubir Singh Thagunna, secretary of the Mahakali Flood Victims Struggle Committee, said, “The then Cabinet decision had decided to provide soft loans to the flood-affected businessmen and had also assured grants to the flood-affected families if they apply for foreign employment and other government facilities. But the decision has not been implemented yet.” According to him, the banks in Darchula are not willing to provide loans to the flood victims, as they don’t have any land or property.

However, Mayor of Mahakali Municipality Hansharaj Bhatta said, “We had distributed 200 ID cards to the flood-affected individuals five months ago. In the current fiscal year’s policy and programme, we have a scheme to find out ways to provide grants and subsidies to the victims through various government facilities.”

The construction of the embankment along the Mahakali River in Darchula has been left incomplete since its initiation soon after the floods in 2013. The construction work was started through a five-year master plan.

According to the master plan, the construction of the embankment should have been completed within the fiscal year 2018-19.

Kamal Singh Mahat, acting chief at the Mahakali River Control Project, said the construction of around 100 metres of embankment in the core area remains to be completed.

“Around 60 metres of embankment in the Bangabagad area and around 40 metres in the Pulghat area are yet to be constructed,” said Mahat. “The project was delayed due to insufficient funding and consequences of the 2015 earthquakes.”