Flood in Madhes

Flood victims demand safe land to build new houses

September 3, 2017 07:10 AM Amar Khadka


ITAHARI, September 3: Dhanamaya Khati, 70, does not have a house to live in. The local of Itahari - 3 was displaced after her house was swept away three weeks ago. Peeping out from a tarpaulin shelter, the elderly woman said she could build another house, but doesn't have the land for it. Besides demolishing their houses, the devastating floods took its toll on the land of the people. Khati wonders what people like her would do if the government does not offer a solution. 

“There is no trace of my house. The flood destroyed it. My family and many others are living a miserable life, the tarpaulin leaks,” she said. “We do not know what to do now. Our land has changed into a riverbank, where to build another house?” she questioned.
There is no bed inside Khati's shelter. She sleeps on a thin sheet, which is not wet. All other family members share the same space. “The earth is not dry yet. Where to go. Life has become so miserable,” she lamented.

Khati's muscle pain has grown due to the cold. Her daughter-in-law Sita stated that the water has not stopped bothering them. The rain is consistent and that has made the life of the displaced people just horrible. 

“We lost our house to the flood. And now there is all water around where we are taking shelter,” Sita said. “We could think of building a new house if we had a piece of land,” she added. 

The floods on 13 August killed over 100 people in the plains and displaced thousands of families. Due to the lack of enough government response, the victims have been living a miserable life. They have been demanding relocation at the earliest. According to Khati and other victims, relief packages do not solve their problem. 

“It is not one or two persons' problem. The flood wreaked havoc in entire tarai and millions of people have been affected. Our land has been washed away by the flood. We cannot build house if the government does not provide us a piece pf land,” Sita, 40, said. 

According to Sita, some of the displaced families have been building houses in their land. However, 'that is not going to last as the land has become very fragile due to the flood'. 
“We could also make a house on our land. But there is sand everywhere. That land is not as solid as before,” she remarked. “So, building a house in such a land would be very foolish of us,” she added. 

Sita also lamented losing all the belongings the family had. Due to the lack of basic goods, it has become very inconvenient to look after the children and elderly people, she said. 

On Saturday morning, the government provided her corrugated sheets. She was one among dozens of flood victims to get the sheets. However, Sita is not impressed at all. 
“What to do with the sheets? They want us to build new houses. But that is not easy unless we are given land,” she argued. “If they don't give us land, we will be forced to erect houses at the same old place. And that makes us very much vulnerable to floods again,” she noted. 

Her neighbor Dil Bikram Nemwang also demands a permanent solution to the problems of the flood victims. He stated that the both who have already been hit by the floods and those who are settled along the riverbanks need to be relocated to safer zones. “We all know that this is flood prone zone. So why not think beforehand and plan for a safe settlement,” he advises. 

According to Nemwang, those who have gone to the old place and built houses are going to be displaced next year as well. “That is what everyone says. And even when we check, there is all sand, not soil,” he stated.

Meanwhile, 12-year-old Dipak BK, also a flood victim, noted that 'building houses at the same old place is just like inviting death'. “If we build our houses at our old land, we are simply trying to attract death,” he said. 

Twenty-five families of Itahari - 3, Sunaulo tole, have shared the same temporary settlement. A safe area to build houses is their common demand. 

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