Six people lost their lives in a landslide at Aulgurta, Nalgad municipality-12 of Jajarkot district. The incident eight years ago put the whole settlement at risk. A decision was made to immediately relocate 60 households to safer places, and yet nothing was done. This year, the settlement is in a danger of another flooding.
Five years ago, three people were killed in a landslide in the model Badi settlement in Dailekh district headquarters. Many houses collapsed. Local politicians promised to relocate the settlement soon. Again, their promises came to nothing. The 52 houses in this settlement are still at high risk damage from landslides.
Landslides take place every year in Haudi, Shubhakalika rural municipality of Kalikot too, endangering its 176 households. Another 25 houses have already been destroyed.
Dozens of settlements in Karnali region are at high risk of landslide. This year, landslides in Jajarkot, Kalikot and Rukum West have caused severe damage to life and property. The various plans that have been drafted, from the district to the central level, are again limited to paper.
According to local Red Cross activist Govinda Acharya, there is a tendency to make ambitious plans at the time of disasters, but then these plans are quickly forgotten.
Acharya rues lack of seriousness in relocating endangered settlements, resulting in the loss of precious lives. Khadananda Chaulagain, chairman of Shubhakalika rural municipality in Kalikot, complains that the limited budget he gets is insufficient to resettle homes.
Karnali MP Ganesh Prasad Singh, elected from Jajarkot, is currently in Kathmandu to knock on the doors of Singha Durbar. He says the problems of the landslide affected people were ignored. A landslide had killed 14 people in Barekot last July.
The land there is now fragmented, the village itself at high risk of landslides. MP Singh has come to Kathmandu to draw the attention of the federal government even as the locals have left their homes and settled in open fields. “I have come to Kathmandu carrying the decision of the local and state governments to relocate the settlements,” Singh says. “If these villages are not shifted, another disaster looms.”
The Karnali state government has an integrated settlement program for the relocation of endangered settlements, and the budget for it was set aside in the previous fiscal.
Karnali Province Chief Minister Mahendra Bahadur Shahi says managing land for resettlement has been the main difficulty. “The local level bodies have been unable to arrange for the required land. At other places, the locals have refused to be relocated.”
The state government had allocated around Rs 500 million for the integrated settlement development program last fiscal, Shahi informs. The budget, however, was frozen due to lack progress. Shahi says the program has been given continuity in the current fiscal and will be implemented in Kalikot, Jajarkot, and Mugu districts after a detailed study.