Melamchi: The family of Dhana Bahadur Shrestha of Phatte, Melamchi Municipality-11, is presently living in a rented room after their house was swept away by last year’s massive flood in the area. The flood on June 15, 2021, washed away the house the family had built through loan and own limited savings thus rendering it homeless.
The huge flood in the Melamchi River destroyed the house of this low-income family in minutes. The family is living in a rented room at a house near the suspension bridge connecting Duwachaur. This settlement is also not safe. “The landslide at Danuwargaun has further increased the risk in Phatte,” Shrestha said of the vulnerability of the Phatte settlement.
Similar is the misfortune of Ramesh Shrestha and Ram Bahadur Danuwar of Phatte. The same flood on June 15 and the subsequent flooding swept away the homes of several families. Many houses that collapsed in the flooding are in ruin. Many families whose houses were somewhat safe have shifted to other areas taking their belongings with them and living in rented rooms for fear of similar flooding this year too.
Several families have been displaced and moved to Chautara and Kathmandu after their homes and farmland were turned into ruins by that flood.
One year after the devastating flood, the situation in Phatte area in Melamchi is far from settled. On the one hand there is the suffering of those families who were rendered homeless due to the disaster while there is this constant fear of similar flooding among those families whose homes were somehow spared last year. The families still living in at-risk settlements as Helambu, Panchpokhari and Melamchi are not in peace.
“I have not had sound sleep even a single night since the onset of the monsoon,” said Ganganath Bhandari of Helambu-2. His house is close to the Melamchi River and his family is in constant fear of floods. “My house was luckily spared in the last year’s flood and we are living here. But we are living in constant fear,” he added.
Bimala Bhandari of Kiul, Helambu-2 narrated how her and her neighbors have been evacuating to higher land and spending nights in vigil whenever the water level in the river starts rising at night time. “Where do you go abandoning the house that you have built through hard-earned money? The house looks okay and you can neither discard it nor live in it with a sense of security,” she expressed their predicament.
Flood-affected families yet to get grant promised by government
The government had announced after last year’s floods that it would provide a relief of Rs 500 thousand to families whose houses were completely destroyed and an additional Rs 300 thousand to those rendered landless due to the flood. But many of the affected families have not got this amount, the local governments in the area have stated.
Chairman of Helambu Rural Municipality, Nima Gyalzen Sherpa, said they constructed temporary shelters for the flood-affected people with the support of various organizations and the Rural Municipality.
“The federal government should assist in providing the grant as well as an additional amount to the affected families to buy land plots and build houses,” he said.
The sorrow suffered by the families affected due to the flooding caused by the Yangri rivulet is the same as those families affected by the flood in the Melamchi River. Several families even do not have the land to construct a house on.
Tashi Lama, Chairperson of Panchpokhari Thangpal Rural Municipality, shared that the sorrow and agony of the flood-affected families has not been alleviated as the federal government did not provide the grants in time. He strongly called for providing the grant amount to the affected families at the earliest.
The Melamchi Municipality is working to rehabilitate the flood-displaced families and protect the houses and structures that are saved. Mayor Aitaman Tamang expressed the confidence that the affected families will get the grants soon. He said, “I hope the reconstruction works will be started soon and the flood-affected families will be able to return to their homes at the earliest.”
Works on river training have started in Melamchi and Helambu with the release, albeit late, of the budget for this purpose. However, the locals complained that the works are not effective. Indu Danuwar, a local woman, rued that although reconstruction works have started with the allocation of budget for the same, they have not progressed as expected. According to her, only a handful of the affected families have got the amount.
The flood in the Melamchi River last year washed away seven motorable bridges and 11 suspension bridges. The transportation services were restored by constructing makeshift bridges by laying hume pipes in the river.
Similarly, the flooding last year destroyed 551 houses in Helambu, Melamchi, and Panchpokhari. Five thousand four hundred ropanis of cultivable land was turned into a wasteland. Twenty-six people lost their lives to the flood. Thirty-three public infrastructures including the national pride project, Melamchi Water Supply Project, and Radio Melamchi suffered massive damages.
The District Administration Office, Sindhupalchowk has said 338 out of the families rendered homeless due to the flood have received the first tranche of the house construction grants.
Chief District Officer Bednidhi Khanal said some amount has been released in the bank account of 156 beneficiaries of Melamchi and 182 beneficiaries of Helambu.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority (NDRRMA) said that funds are being released through the Chief District Officer for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of houses damaged by the last year’s floods in the Melamchi area.
NDRRMA spokesman Dr Dijan Bhattarai said that a total 1,041 persons were affected in Melamchi and the surrounding area due to the monsoon and the rehabilitation works were started last year itself.
According to him, a total Rs 239 million 891 thousand 250 has been spent so far on rehabilitation. Rs 189 million 157 thousand 500 was appropriated in the current fiscal year and Rs 50 million 733 thousand 750 last fiscal year for this purpose. Similarly, Rs 190 million 258 thousand 750 has been released as first tranche and Rs 7 million 150 thousand in the second tranche last fiscal year for the construction of temporary shelters for the monsoon. Sanchita Ghimire and Dev Raj Subedi/RSS