Settlement relocation plan hits snag as victims refuse to shift

Settlement relocation plan hits snag as victims refuse to shift

The government’s plan to relocate over 36,000 families of more than 300 settlements by July 15 has failed to materialise, as vulnerable communities in most of the earthquake-affected districts have refused to shift temporarily to any new location.

According to Under Secretary Baburam Bhandari at the Ministry of Home Affairs, most of the district disaster relief committees led by concerned chief district officers have not implemented their resettlement plan, as locals turned down government’s request for temporary relocation.

“Only 360 families in Rasuwa, 78 in Okhaldhunga, 64 in Sindhupalchowk, 36 in Chitwan, 18 in Gorkha and 11 in Solukhumbu district have been resettled in already identified places in the last 10 days,” Bhandari, who also leads the National Emergency Operation Centre, told this daily.

According to a report presented by the joint teams of lawmakers and geologists after visiting the affected settlements, at least 15,277 households of 50 settlements in Dolakha need to be relocated at the earliest to minimise the damage caused by the monsoon, while 5,548 families of Ramechhap, 3,023 of Makawanpur, at least 2,331 families from Gorkha, 2,244 from Dhading and 1,723 from Sindhupalchowk were also recommended for relocation.

“The chief district officers of the respective districts have informed that they failed to implement the relocation plan, as locals refused to leave the settlements although they were rendered uninhabitable due to tremors,” the under secretary said. Most of the villagers demanded a permanent solution to the crisis rather than temporarily shifting from their age-old residences to new ones, he said. “It’s very tough to convince the communities as they have social, cultural, economic and religious ties to their villages.”

On June 30, the government had decided to relocate over 36,000 families of 18 districts within two weeks by entrusting a task force led by Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bamdev Gautam that includes Deputy PM and Minister for Federal Affairs and Local Development Prakashman Singh and Minister for Urban Development Narayan Khadka.

According to a government survey, over 100,000 residents from at least 300 settlements are also vulnerable to possible landslides in monsoon season in the hilly districts following the devastating earthquakes of April and May that killed over 8,000 people across the nation.

According to a ministry data, DDRCs have so far spent Rs 8.42 billion to provide relief to the families of earthquake victims, while MoHA has already released Rs 10.42 billion to the districts for the same. “Six districts have demanded additional Rs 1.22 billion to carry out resettlement activities.”

Source: THT