Doti earthquake victims living precarious life


By Keshab Chandra Mahara,Dipayal, Mar. 12: The house of Jang Bohora of Majhgaon, Purbi Chowki Rural Municipality-3, in Doti district, lie damaged from the earthquake. His family, who had spent a few days under a tent in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, are back in the same tent, where they are living a precarious life. 

The Bohora family is not alone; other earthquake victims in the district are having to living in cracked houses. Bohora said initially, there was a lot of fear, but that has recently subsided to some extent.

"We could not enter the house for at least one month and we spent cold days and nights under the tent. But children and older citizens started falling sick under the tent due to the cold, so we shifted back to the damaged house,” he said. "Even five months after the earthquake, we had no choice but to stay inside the precarious house,” Bohora said. 

Chandra Budha, a resident of Padagaon, is also living in a dilapidated house similarly damaged by the earthquake. He said that even after staying under the tent for three to four months, even a temporary shelter could not be arranged, forcing him to live in a dilapidated house now. "We are sleeping on the ground floor in an effort to stay safe from the earthquake. Our neighbours are also doing the same,” he said.

It has been five months since the earthquake inflicted human and material damage in the district. The earthquake that occurred on November 8 and 9, 2022 left more than 500 houses in the district completely damaged and 4,500 houses partially damaged. According to the statistics of the Red Cross, the Purbi Chowki Rural Municipality was particularly affected.

Ram Prasad Upadhyay, chairman of the rural Municipality, said more than 2,700 households have been affected in Purbi Chowki. For the time being, a makeshift settlement made of tin has been constructed for the people whose houses have been completely damaged and who have lost their families, but the reconstruction work has not progressed yet.

The earth-quake damaged houses lie in precarious position and seem certain to collapse completely in the event of another mild earthquake. The risk has increased further after the victims has returned to their at-risk houses. 

Laxman Singh, the coordinator of the District Coordination Committee, said that the Doti residents are at risk because they are staying in the houses already weakened by the past earthquakes. He expressed concern that even a small earthquake may cause big damage to those houses as they are already precarious.

Experts have been saying that the Doti earthquake should be taken as a warning bell. Former Director General of the Department of Mines and Geology, Som Nath Sapkota, said that there has not been a major earthquake in West Nepal for a long time and the far west and surrounding areas on the Indian Plate are at high risk of earthquakes. He suggested that such earthquakes should be understood as danger bells and that disaster preparedness plans should be worked out as soon as possible.

The victims complained that by delaying the reconstruction work, the government has neglected the victims. "After the earthquake, the government was busy with elections, government formation, and power sharing," said one earthquake victim Birendra Upadhyay.

He blamed that the Doti earthquake did not galvanise the government the way the 2015 Gorkha earthquake did.

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