Tuesday, 28 September, 2021
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NATION

Earthquake victims of Barpak Dalit  settlement await reconstruction



earthquake-victims-of-barpak-dalit-settlement-await-reconstruction
A view of Dalit settlement in Barpak, Gorkha. (TRN photo)

By Narendra Dhakal, Gorkha, Sept. 3: It has been decided that the Unit offices of the National Reconstruction Authority in Gorkha will be phased out soon after the construction of individual houses reached its final stage.

Accordingly, the Nepal Reconstruction Authority (NRA) District Project Implementation Unit, Grant Management, and Local Infrastructure, Gorkha will remain only until mid-September.

According to Ram Sharan Acharya, chief of the Grant Management and Local Infrastructure, 94 per cent of beneficiaries in the district have already received the third tranche. Preparations are underway to hand over the remaining houses as well the reconstruction-related work to the concerned offices.

"It has been decided that we will be here only until mid-September, but we have yet to receive an official letter," he said. If anything goes wrong, the concerned offices will take care of it.

As the NRA is bidding farewell to the district, the earthquake victims of the Dalit settlement of Barpak, the epicenter of the 2015 earthquake, are left disappointed.

"We have yet to decide where to build our houses. After six years of painful waiting, we are left without homes," said Suk Bahadur BK, a leader of the settlement. "A new government has just formed, let's hope the government will do something for us."

Before the earthquake, there were 32 Dalit families on the southeastern side of Barpak. They were staying in their ancestral land but the devastating earthquake left that in ruins. They are now taking shelter in government land.

They are still living in a temporary shelter on the land of Agriculture Service Centre, Animal Service Centre and Range Post. After the geologists advised not to build a house in the old place, they have so far received Rs 50,000 in the first installment to build their houses.

"Four families returned to their ancestral land risking their lives, and two even reconstructed their houses," said BK. "All of us are hopeful that the new government will provide us the much-needed relief. At the same time, we are worried about the NRA’s imminent departure.

Deemed unsafe by the geologists, the settlement which was to be relocated to a safe place and an open museum was to be built in its place in memory of the earthquake. But the work could not proceed as some locals refused to provide their land.

Meanwhile, Grant Management and Local Infrastructure Gorkha have claimed that 14 people from the settlement have already built new houses. As for the rest of the houses, no decision has been taken yet, said Chief Acharya. "We have done all we can at the district level, but that hasn’t happened from the central level," he said.

Six years after the devastating earthquake, the Dalit families continue to spend their days and night under the tents, most of which are now unusable. As the reconstruction of individual housing nears an end, there is no end to the families’ misery in sight.