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Facing hardship in makeshift huts, Sindhupalchowk flood victims returning to their damaged houses

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MELAMCHI, SINDHUPALCHOWK: SEPT. 26 – Facing hardship in makeshift huts, flood victims of Melamchi and Helambu in Sindhupalchowk district have started returning to their damaged residences over three months after the tragedy.

They’re returning to their broken house is against cautions by authorities that the damaged houses are yet not fit for living.

They have removed the rubble and debris and repaired their damaged houses all by themselves so they can live. Some of them have completed the repair of their destroyed houses and started living there.

Local authorities have cautioned against using the impaired houses for living as a study on whether they are fit for living is yet to be carried out, said an official of Melamchi Municipality.

However, the victims have a different story to share. They said that they are facing various difficulties living in temporary huts. “The winter is around the corner and it makes it more difficult for us to live in the makeshift huts during the season,” said a flood victim, Maiya Dulal of Melamchi Municipality.

Her two-storey house was destroyed in the flooding three months ago. She cleared the flood deposited rubble and now is living on the second floor. Repair is underway to remove rubble from the damaged house with the help of workers and an excavator, she said. “Around Rs 700 thousand have been spent in the reconstruction. I do not know how much more money it requires to complete it. We are forced to live in the damaged house without any other option left,” she said.

Her house shutter was completely damaged. The different parts inside the house are also destroyed. The walls have developed cracks. The windows and doors are broken. “What do we do, there is no other place to go to. We have to stay here whatever the condition. That is why we rebuilt our house with our own money. We have no other option even though there’s a risk of flooding,” she expressed her desperation.

She even lost two ropanis paddy fields to the flooding. Despite suffering a big economic loss, she has already started living in the house after rebuilding it.

Most of the people whose houses were damaged due to the massive flooding are repairing their houses, without consulting with the engineers. There is also no study as regards whether the repaired and reconstructed houses are safe enough to live in. However, those people without shelter have been reduced to the status of homeless and landless.

Dulal said half the people of Melamchi whose houses were damaged by the flood have started living in their house after repairing them on their own while the remaining half are removing the flood debris that has deposited inside and outside of their houses. Many of the affected people have mortgaged their houses and land in banks. They are now worried about how to pay the bank instalment of the loans they had taken.

Mayor of Melamchi Municipality, Dambar Bahadur Aryal shared that as per the preliminary data, the flood has swept away 247 houses in the municipality. It has washed away more than 1,700 ropanis lands.

It is estimated that over Rs 3 billion losses have been incurred due to the damage to the land property alone. The details of the damage have been still coming in, he said.

“We had suggested not shifting to their houses right now. But the locals have started removing the debris themselves and living in the house after normal repair,” the Mayor said.

As per the preliminary details of the Helambu Rural Municipality, 227 houses there were washed away by the flood. The Rural Municipality Chair Nima Gyalzen Sherpa said the flood has eroded more than nearly 2,100 ropanis lands in the rural municipality.

The unimaginable flood in the Melamchi and Indrawati rivers damaged land and property especially in wards no 6, 10 and 11 of the municipality. The areas close to the river bank have been wreaked in the Melamchi Bazar while the settlements around have been displaced.

The municipality has set up a relief and rehabilitation fund by depositing Rs 5 million and it has called various organisations and communities to contribute to the fund.

Five persons have been killed and 20 are missing due to the flood and landslide in Sindhupalchowk so far.

One hundred and thirty-four persons have died in flood, landslide and inundation related incidents while 45 are unaccounted for throughout the country in this monsoon.

The monsoon is not yet over. Meteorologists have predicted that the monsoon will exit from the country by the first week of October.

-Narayan Dhungana/RSS

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