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No respite for earthquake victims

No respite for earthquake victims

Two more survivors of the Nov 3 earthquake have succumbed to health complications resulting from harsh weather conditions in Jajarkot, taking the number of survivors killed in the quake to 37. 

The deceased, Karna Bahadur Bishwakarma (58) of Rautgaun in Bheri Municipality-1 and Lal Bahadur Raut (68) of Jiri in Barekot Rural Municipality-4, had been living under tarpaulin tents after the destruction of their homes in the 6.4-magnitude quake with Ramidanda as its epicenter. 

Karna Bahadur, living in a makeshift tarpaulin tent with his five family members, had been bedridden for the past week. “He was running a fever and we thought it was seasonal flu. When we took him to the hospital, his condition had already worsened,” shared Rup Lal, son of Karna Bahadur.

Initially admitted to Jajarkot district hospital, Karna Bahadur was referred to Karnali provincial hospital in Surkhet after his condition deteriorated. He passed away in the course of treatment on Saturday morning. Bir Bahadur Giri, chairperson of Barekot Rural Municipality (Jajarkot), confirmed that Karna Bahadur, an asthma patient living under tarpaulin sheets, passed away as his condition worsened due to harsh weather conditions.

Asthma patients constitute a majority of the 37 deceased. Three children and a new mother are also among the dead. Although the government had announced plans for the relocation of earthquake survivors from tarpaulin tents to temporary shelters within a month, only 9,169 families have been relocated so far. Additionally, only 1800 families have received the Rs 50,000 grant (meant for each family) for building temporary shelters.

Of the 35,140 earthquake survivors eligible for the grant in Jajarkot, more than 26,000 of them have not built temporary shelters yet, according to Harish Chandra Sharma, assistant chief district officer of Jajarkot. Due to delays in releasing the grant, earthquake survivors have been unable to construct temporary shelters, so they have no option but to brave chilly winter nights under tarpaulin tents.

Humanitarian workers say that cumbersome administrative processes involved in opening bank accounts and submitting proof of homelessness after police investigations make it quite difficult for the survivors to get government grants. Raj Bahadur Shahi of Junichande-5 in Jajarkot says a lackadaisical attitude of the local government is the reason why the survivors are not getting government grants.