Though life is slowly returning to normalcy in Barpak of Gorkha district, the epicentre of the April 25 earthquake, local residents have not yet decided how and where they should build their houses.
“We received enough foodstuffs as relief and we thank everyone for that,” said Lal Bahadur Gurung of Barpak -1, adding that the government should now tell them what type of houses they need to build. “Should we rebuild our homes in the same place? And what type of house should we build?” he asked.
All of the 22 houses that provided home-stay services to tourists in the village have all been destroyed. “We had been providing such services for the past seven years. Now we do not know when we will be back in business,” said Pur Bahadur Ghale, treasurer of the local Home-stay and Tourism Management Committee.
The earthquake destroyed almost all houses in the village and claimed the lives of more 70 people. Of 1,470 survivors, 1,380 have already received identity cards from the government and they are living in temporary shelters which lack adequate water and sanitation facilities. “It costs some Rs 1.4 million to build a proper house,” Ghale said, adding that they need around Rs 500,000 even if they reuse materials from the damaged structures.
Meanwhile, Relief Distribution Committee Coordinator Suk Bahadur BK said they have written to the Department of Urban Development for technical suggestion on building new houses. “We are willing to comply with whatever guidelines are prepared for us,” he said.
BK said a team of geologists have categorised some areas of Wards Number 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the village as unsafe. Currently, almost all people from the entire VDC are staying in camps at several places.
The displaced people, however, are hopeful of resuming their businesses. Manash Ghale, who operated a home-stay along with a hotel, said he is confident that he will be able to return to his business.
“All we need is a little
support,” he said, “Otherwise it will take us two to three years to build back on our own.”
71,000 families await cash relief
Prakash Adhikari (Nuwakot)
Local authorities have provided cash relief meant for building temporary shelters to only 5,000 of the total 76,000 quake-affected families in the district.
The survivors, however, said they were happy to receive the aid even around two and a half months after the quake. Upon receiving the cash relief of Rs 15,000 from a team of officials led by Chief District Officer Umesh Kumar Dhakal on Sunday, Indra Kumari Rai, 66, of Ganesthan-4 thanked the government and said she will use the amount in buying galvanised zinc sheets to build a shelter for her family. Like Indra Kumari, most quake affected people at Ganesthan-4, 5 and 6 said they plan to purchase galvanised zinc sheets with the cash relief. Local Development Officer Rajendra Kumar KC said the relief distribution process was delayed due to a sudden increase in the number of affected families. He, however, said they plan to provide the cash relief as well identity cards at the same time.
Meanwhile, complaining about the haphazard relief distribution by some non-government organisations in the area, Shanta Adhikari of Ganesthan said people in her village got nothing though those from the neighbouring Chaughada, Kabilash, Narja and Khanigaun received some relief materials in the past. Officials said most of the quake-hit families in Barsunchet, Kimta, Kabilash, Okharpauwa and Bidur Municipality have received the cash relief.
Some of the recipients, meanwhile, said they have already built temporary shelters borrowing money from local user groups and that they will use the government aid to pay back the loan. Bhoj Bahadur Basnet, a quake survivor, said he plans to invest the amount in rearing goats for Dashain. He said other villagers too plan to invest the amount in productive work such as buying fertilisers. VDC Secretary Ishworman Shrestha said the relief process was delayed as they had to settle disputes related to the number of quake-hit families.