’14 flood victims of Banke, Bardiya still awaiting relief

- Krishna Prasad Gautam, NEPALGUNJ

Jul 20, 2017-Hundreds of people displaced by floods in Banke and Bardiya are still forced to live in temporary shelters even almost four years after the disaster, with 63 percent of victims yet to get the first instalment (Rs 50,000) of the relief and 68 percent of the budget allocated for house construction frozen largely due to the “incompetence” of authorities concerned.

According to the division office of the Urban Development and Building Construction in Nepalgunj, only Rs 193 million of the Rs 595 million allocated for house construction in Banke and Bardiya was spent in the last fiscal year. 

As per data available at the division office, only 612 households--out of 1,652 families who were entitled to government relief--in Banke have received the first tranche of Rs 50,000 to build their houses so far. In Bardiya, 341 households of 3,589 are yet to receive the first tranche.  

A total of 1,381 households in the two districts are yet to receive the first tranche of the aid. 

The government had decided to provide housing reconstruction aid of Rs 300,000 to the victims affected by the 2014 floods on par with the people affected by the 2015 earthquake. 

Massive floods on August 14 and 15 in 2014 had claimed 15 lives in Banke and 32 in Bardiya. Hundreds of people were displaced. 

Ninety percent of Gulariya, the district headquarters of Bardiya, was inundated by the floods. The flood-hit families were resettled in Jhora and Hajarath community forests. Over 400 families are still living there. 

“We have been living in temporary shelters for the last four years. We have visited various government offices seeking help to build our houses, but to no avail,” said Omkar Yadav, a flood victim. Then village development committee office, according to Yadav, had asked the flood victims to fill forms at least three times, assuring that they would get the relief amount “soon”. 

But the division office blamed the VDC office for the delay aid distribution. 

“We had tasked the VDC offices with making the victims fill the forms. The VDC offices submitted the forms at the end of the fiscal year, making it difficult for us to distribute the grant,” said Homnath Bhusal, an engineer at the division office. 

“We received the relief amount in May. The aid could not be distributed within mid-July due to local elections. We also had to conduct technical assessments,” added Bhusal.

There was no answer as to why the aid was sent only in May, just two months before the fiscal year ends.  

Bhusal said Rs 261.5 million housing reconstruction aid would be spent “if the authorities can distribute the first tranche to the victims of Banke and Bardiya”. 

Published: 20-07-2017 07:45

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