By Kailash Lama, Dolakha, Apr 4: Singati, the northern business center of Dolakha, which had trying to stand on its feet after facing huge damage of devastating earthquake of 2015, has now been badly affected by the nationwide lockdown enforced to control COVID-19.
Due to the lockdown, locals who have just built their earthquake-damaged structures by taking loans from banks and cooperatives are facing problem to pay their loans.
Around 95 per cent of structures were damaged while 18 people had died due to earthquake of 2015.
Singati was the most affected area of Dolakha by the earthquake.
With the enforcement of lockdown and closure of businesses, locals are facing problems in paying the loans taken from banks and cooperatives.
“During the earthquake there used to be movement of people and we could sell our goods. But due to lockdown, we have not been able to do business and earn for paying installment of credit taken from the banks and cooperatives. We fear our houses may be auctioned if the lockdown continues,” said Kusale Tamang, a merchant from Bigu Gaunpalika.
Singati, which is 35km from Dolakha’s headquarters Charikot, has been a center for three local bodies — Kalinchowk Gaunpalika, Bigu Gaunpalika and Gaurishankar Gaunpalika.
“Around 350 business firms do a business of around Rs 30 million a day in Singati,” said Padam Pandey, a local businessman.
Other than a couple of shops selling essential household goods, shops in Singati are totally closed.
Similarly, only vehicles that bring essential goods are plying the road.
Local businessmen and merchants have urged the concerned authorities to find a solution to their problem and provide them relief.
“All three levels of government are only speaking of doing this and that, but none have been brought into action. From prevention and control of virus to bringing policies for providing relief to us, the government bodies have done nothing,” said Mahesh Shrestha, chairman of Singati- unit of Dolakha Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce & Industries.
However, the local government has said it is more focused on preventing its public from COVID-19 in the beginning.
“Our primary concern is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our area. We also know the problems being faced by the business sector in the wake of the earthquake and we will bring necessary plan and policy to address it soon,” said Yuddhistir Khadka, chairman of Bigu Gaunpalika.
According to Khadka, the local government will also implement government’s directives to ask banks to exempt interest or installment for the month of Chaitra.
“We have also requested the landlords to not demand one month’s rent, in line with the central government,” said Khadka.