Flood victims of Itahari Muncipality-3, Sunaulo Tole erecting temporary huts in this recent picture. Amar Khadka/Republica
ITAHARI, Dec 27: Khadak Bahadur Bhujel, a flood victim from Itahari MuMunicipality0, is nowadays bothered with the absence of embankment in the nearby Budhi River. Four months ago, the same river had made him and dozen others homeless. The flooding had damaged settlements along the Morang-Sunsari district border. Many of these flood victims have started to erect new house or repair the old ones but the absence of embankment on the river has kept them all extremely worried.
“Building house is not a big problem. We can do that by taking loan or by arranging necessary funds through other means. We will pay off the debt by working hard, day and night,” states Bhujel. “But in lack of embankment to stop the floods from entering our settlement, our families will remain vulnerable,” he shared.
Bhujel has started to repair his house by taking Rs 50,000 loan from a local moneylender. Though his family had been living in a temporary hut since the floods, the chilling weather has forced his family to repair their house. Others in the settlement have also sped up repairing and constructing their houses to save their family from the winter cold.
“We are poor people. We do not expect too much in life. But like others we are also concerned about our safety,” he said on Tuesday while repairing his house. “We are repairing our houses but we cannot go and build embankment on the river. That’s beyond our capacity,” he added.
Flood victims like Bhujel, most of who are daily wage earners, wish for the embankment to be built at the earliest. They urge government and non-government agencies to protect their settlements from future floods by building embankments.
“When flood destroyed our homes, many organizations including government agencies came to our rescue with relief packages. But, we are not still secure,” Bhujel stressed. “We would appreciate if the government or any non-government agency could build the embankment and protect our families from floods in the future.”
When flood wreaked havoc, most areas in the Tarai region were inundated. Over a dozen of people lost life while some disappeared in the flood. Rai, Limbu, Brahmin, Mandal and Sardar community that lived near the Budhi River in the district were the worst affected. In Bhujhel’s area, 36 out of 80 houses were fully damaged.
Samsher Rai, another resident, shared that several organizations have been extending to support for repairing or rebuilding damaged houses. He argued without the embankment, their houses, no matter how strong they are constructed, won’t be safe. “For us, the major concern is building a strong embankment. But the government has not thought about it so far,” he said.
Kamala Dhungana, who was busy in erecting her two-room house, stated that there is no assurance of safety from future floods even though her home construction would be complete soon. “We are a family of three. Two-room house is fine for us. Some organizations have been providing construction materials to build it and soon we will be moving in the new house. But we are worried about the fate of the house from future floods,” she said.
Shova Subba and Binita Limbu, another two flood victims from Itahari-3 also urged for the same thing. They said that they don’t expect anything from the government other than building embankment on the river.
“We don’t have problem about house. Even single room is enough for us to live in. All that we want is that embankment be built on the river so that we could live here in peace,” said Limbu.
Barkha Bahadur Limbu another flood victim said that the government must work on finding a permanent solution to the problem of floods. Living in huts during the winter and monsoon is harsh for us. “Time and again, we are forced to suffer such miseries because of the floods. The government must find appropriate long-term solution and implement them,” he said.
The government has prioritized resettlement of flood victims in 18 of the most flood-affected districts. “We are worried about building embankments more than new houses. The government should construct embankments on all vital places to protect settlements from floods,” said Pushpanath Dahal, another flood victim from the area.