Landslide victims warn of sitting out local polls

  • Call politicians to deliver on their promises first
- GIRU PRASAD BHANDARI, (PHOPLI) PYUTHAN

Apr 20, 2017- Just as the date for local level elections draws closer, there is an increased political hustle and bustle in many parts of the country. Political parties have stepped up campaigns and activities while leaders are reaching out to the people soliciting votes for their parties. 

In some parts of the country people though are enthusiastic about local elections, first in two decades, slated for May 14, they have but one request to make to political parties, “Leaders should frequent the villages more often--not only during the elections-- and should try to listen to the locals’ concerns and take initiatives to address them.”
People of Phopli in Pyuthan say political parties and their leaders are quite good at making promises, but when it comes to delivery, they invariably fail. 
Eight months ago, Phopli suffered one of the worst disasters. 
As many as 27 people of different wards of Phopli, then a village development committee, perished in landslides. Around 80 families of Phopli who were displaced by the landslides are still living in makeshift shelters in the Rambari Community Forest area. 
Political parties were quick to promise support, said Jhagindra Magar who lost his wife and three children in the landslides. “The CPN-UML had announced Rs 25,000 each to the families of those who died in the landslides, but we are yet to receive the aid,” said Magar.
In October last year, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal visited the landslide-hit area and assured Rs 800,000 each to the displaced families as relief and resettlement aid. Yubaraj Bhandari, a social activist, said the government, however, is yet to start the process of releasing the money. 
The families who lost their loved ones in the disaster received Rs 100,000 in addition to Rs 15,000 “special support” during the Dashain festival. 
According to the District Natural Disaster Rescue Committee, nearly Rs 2 billion will be needed to resettle the displaced flood and landslide families in the district. 
Now with the local elections less than a month away, political party leaders have started canvassing, which locals and the landslides victims in particular are not very happy with.
“We are not going to vote for them until they take initiatives to ensure the relief amount that has been promised,” said Magar. 
Bhirkuna, Gatina, Charibang, Makre and Pholpibaskot settlements among others in Phopli are vulnerable to landslides and people living their need to be resettled in safer areas. 
Balaram Pun, also a landslide victim, said people are worried as the monsoon is near. “The prime minister had announced relief on par with what the earthquake victims are entitled to. But it has remained a promise only,” said Pun, adding: “Leaders come up with false assurances during elections. Once elections are over, they forget us.”

Published: 20-04-2017 08:26

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