Cold weather hits earthquake survivors hard

- Anup Ojha, BHAKTAPUR

Dec 25, 2015-

Eighty-two-year old Punamaya Gothe’s face, hands and legs are massively swollen due to cold.She has been living in a makeshift shelter at Dudhpati in Bhaktapur with six members of her family after their house was destroyed in the April 25 earthquake.The octogenarian’s daughter in law, Maya, is a new mother. She gave birth to a baby boy inside the same tent  threemonths ago.

“The baby suffered from fever for the first two months. Now he is down with pneumonia. I am worried about him. How am I going to save him from this winter,” said Maya.  

Beside the newborn, almost all family members are also suffering from common cold and cough.According to the Bhaktapur Metropolitan Police Circle, three earthquake-displaced people have died of cold in the past two weeks.

 “They all were above 50 years of age, living in temporary shelters,” said Superintendent of Police Kiran Bajracharya.

According to the data at the Circle, 3,065 people are living in temporary shelters at Dudpati, Bhaja Pokhari, Chyamasi, Byashi, Sano Byasi, Bhalukhel and Liwali in the district. Living inside these shelters is getting difficult by the day due to growing cold.Children and elderly persons are vulnerable to catching various cold-related illness.  “My children cry throughout the night because of cold. We don’t have warm clothes to wear. We wake up in the morning with our blankets wet with dew droplets,” said 32-year-old Laxmi Wayaju, mother of three.

The people living in temporary shelters have so far only received Rs 15,000 from the government. The money is barely enough to feed a family for a month, let alone build a new house.

“We survived the earthquake. Whether we will survive this winter is what concerns us these days,” said Wayaju.“These people must be shifted to warmer place, they don’t have warm clothes or the shelter to survive the cold. Already people are falling sick,”said SP Bajracharya.Chief District Officer of Bhaktapur Toyam Raya said his office has already released Rs 20 million to Bhaktapur Sub-Metropolitan City to distribute Rs 10,000 each to the quake-displaced families to buy winter clothes. “The money should go through the Chief Executive of the municipality, but the post is empty right now, however, we have done things from our part,” says Raya.

 

Published: 25-12-2015 09:42

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