By Sher Bahadur Sarki,Bajura, May 27: As monsoon approaches, residents of Bajura, a district in Sudurpaschim Province about 830 km north-west of Kathmandu, are living in fear of becoming the victims of landslides once again.
Following the devastating floods and landslides in May, June, September, and August of 2021/2022, which endangered the settlements in various places in the district, people here now live in constant fear of their homes being washed away during the rainy season.
Since the flood-affected locals couldn't be relocated to a safer place, they are now forced to reside in the same vulnerable area.
Kala Karki, a resident of Badimalika Municipality-3 Ghagar, expressed her concerns about the safer places where they would go during the rainy season. While their life moves ahead peacefully during the winter, Karki worries about the risks posed by the floods and landslides the previous year. She said, "Our houses are at risk, and we fear they will collapse in the event of heavy rains."
The situation is similar for the residents of Budhinanda, Triveni Gaumul, Badimalika, and Budhiganga municipalities and Khaptad Chededah Rural Municipality in Bajura.
The settlements of Partola and Guiban in Ward No. 5 of Khaptad Chededah Rural Municipality have been exposed to landslide risks for a long time. Since 1999, hundreds of families in these settlements have been living in the fear of landslides, but there haven't been any programmes to relocate them yet.
The residents, who returned to the village believing there would be no landslides in winter, are deeply worried about where they will live in the upcoming season.
During the visits of people's representatives ahead of the elections, relocation of the settlements at the risk of landslides and floods become a major topic. However, Suntala Rawat, a resident of Bhule Guiban, claims that the issue of relocation is only raised to gain votes during the elections and is forgotten afterwards.
Dozens of settlements in Bajedi, Nimani, Tamprisera, and Amkot of Budhiganga Municipality are also at the risk of landslides. Most of the locals in these areas have been living in tents since the last rainy season.
Similarly, settlements such as Ghangar, Olena, Tipada, Mana, and Kordh in Badimalika Municipality are also at risk of floods.
The Bajura District Disaster Management Committee has collected data on over 150 at-risk settlements in all nine local levels and submitted them to the Ministry of Home Affairs for relocation purposes.
A housing programme has been initiated in the first phase to accommodate the displaced families from some settlements in Himali Rural Municipality and Amkot of Budhiganga Municipality.
The Bajura District Administration Office has stated that efforts are being made in collaboration with relevant agencies to relocate other settlements.