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Society | Eight years on, Mahakali flood victims still to be compensated

Society | Eight years on, Mahakali flood victims still to be compensated

No one knows the whereabouts of more than Rs 400 million raised in the name of flood victims of Khalanga, the Darchula district headquarters, which was flooded by the Mahakali eight years ago.

People from all over the country had raised money for the flood-victims in 2013. But with no proper audit, there has been no accounting of around Rs 400 million raised for the victims.

“Not a single penny fell into the hands of the victims,” says Raghubir Thagunna, secretary of the Mahakali Flood Victims Struggle Committee. “We were given Rs 35,000 as a relief. That was it. We don't know where the Rs 400 million raised in our name has gone.”

“Some of the money received from abroad was deposited into the Prime Minister's Relief Fund and some in the Central Disaster Relief Fund,” says Thagunna, whose two houses, a poultry farm, and land worth Rs 15 million were damaged by the devastating floods.

The Darchula district headquarters was flooded after India opened the sluices of the Dhauliganga Hydropower Project without any notice. After the Darchula floods, advance notice is sent to the Darchula District Administration Office when opening the gates of Dhauliganga. According to Ram Dutta Pant, clerk at Darchula District Administration Office (DAO), the Mahakali that year flooded the houses and land belonging to 113 people. Nearly Rs 1 billion worth of property was lost.

Thagunna alleged that the money raised by various political parties in the name of flood victims was spent on campaigning for elections. “We don't have data on who raised how much. The funds raised by the UML, the Congress, and the UCPN (Maoist), we suspect, may have been spent in the second Constituent Assembly election campaign. We did not get anything,” said Thagunna.

The struggle committee has been demanding compensation for the flood victims of Darchula. They have come to the capital many times by collecting donations. But the government is yet to heed their distress calls.

The DAO had prepared a booklet detailing the losses incurred by each victim. “The district administration has recorded the details of the damages caused by the Mahakali floods. We have not been compensated by the government, nor have we received the amount collected in our name,” complains Lalit Singh Bohora, another victim.

Bohora claims that more than Rs 500 million has been deposited to the Prime Minister's Relief Fund and the Central Disaster Relief Fund alone. “But we have been struggling for eight years to get that Rs 500 million. No one will give it to us,” Bohara said. “Even if we received that amount, it would be half of the compensation we deserve.”