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After flood fury, Sauraha struggles to get back on its feet

- CHANDAN KUMAR MANDAL, Chitwan
Floods spared none, but hotels in the riverside area were hit the hardest, say Sauraha hoteliers

Aug 20, 2017-A week after floods hit Sauraha, a tourist hub close to the Chitwan National Park and Rapti River, locals here are struggling to come to terms with the impact of the disaster that is said to have caused damage worth millions of rupees.

The village was teeming with tourists until a week ago, but it wears a deserted look now. Despair was writ large across the faces of locals, hoteliers and other entrepreneurs as the Post tried to take stock of the situation in the aftermath of one of the worst floods in the district in recent years. 

There are over six dozen small and big hotels in the village which is popular among foreign as well as domestic tourists for jungle safari, local cuisine and boat rides in the Rapti river among others. 

Last week’s floods have affected almost all the hotels and businesses.

Most of the hoteliers said business was already down due to frequent obstructions along the Muglin-Narayangadh road section and the floods did the rest.

Floods spared none, but hotels in the riverside area were hit the hardest, said Damodar Regmi, secretary of the Regional Hotel Association of Nepal, Chitwan. “Restaurants and bars on the banks of the Rapti river were affected the most,” added Regmi. “Losses are to the tune of millions of rupees.”

At least six restaurants in the riverside area were completely washed away, turning the most popular attractions into dry flat land. 

Waters from the swollen Rapti river had gushed into the area after breaching an embankment built around four years ago. 

Krishna Khatiwada, owner of Rapti Beach Restaurant, said he did not expect floodwaters to cross the dyke. “I suffered a loss of around five million rupees,” he said. 

According to the Regional Hotel Association of Nepal, Chitwan, of the total loss of Rs 160 million caused by the floods in Sauraha, hotels and restaurants near the river suffered a loss to the tune of Rs 40 million. 

Deependra Khatiwada, the first-vice president of the Restaurants and Bar Association Nepal, Sauraha, said his Sunset View Restaurant and Bar the floods completely damaged his property. As the rains have abated and floodwaters have receded, Sauraha locals and businesspersons are trying to get back on their feet. 

They have started reconstructing their damaged structures, as they hope to “welcome guests very soon”.

“It won’t take long; it will take about a month and half to restore the riverside enterprises,” said Khatiwada, as some tourists walked along the still muddied road of Sauraha in a sign that Sauraha continues attract the holidaymakers. 

Hoteliers hope a quick rebound, but people like Jal Singh Mahato, however, say they do not know “how soon”, as their livelihood is at stake. 

Mahato, an auto-rickshaw driver, said he used to make three-four trips from Tandi to Sauraha every day. “But this is my second trip in the last three days,” Mahato, who bought the three-wheeler on loan, said on Friday. “My income has come down by more than half. Next instalment is in two weeks and I don’t know how I am going to pay.” 

Published: 20-08-2017 08:12

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