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Surkhet administration starts eviction of flood victims from public land

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The Kathmandu Post
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Five and a half years since the tragedy struck, victims are still looking for help from the government.

Chandani Kathayat

The district administration of Surkhet has issued an eviction notice to the victims of 2014 floods who have been living on the land owned by the District Women Training Centre in Birendranagar.

As the authorities are preparing to evict the flood survivors without offering them any resettlement alternative, the displaced people have refused to leave.

The District Administration Office has said the eviction order was issued at the instruction of the local municipal government.

“The local government has asked us to remove the displaced from the public land at any cost,” Krishna Bahadur Khakda, assistant chief district officer, told the Post. “Other government bodies can resettle them to a safer location.”

In August 2014, several villages in Surkhet were hit by floods, displacing around 970 families. Twenty-four people were killed in the disaster while 91 others are still unaccounted for and declared dead.

According to the District Natural Disaster Rescue Committee, 255 homes were destroyed and 715 homes were damaged in the disaster.

Fifteen families rendered homeless by the floods were put up on the land owned by the District Women Training Centre. They have been living there ever since.

Hari Singh Thakuri, one of the flood survivors, told the Post that they had nowhere else to go.

“We will not move until the government resettles us,” he said.

Nara Bahadur Rokaya, another flood survivor, said five and a half years since the disaster, the government had still not offered them any support.

“We have neither received relief nor compensation for our loss till date,” he said. “We have lost faith in the government.”

Although the Karnali provincial government had announced to provide Rs 350,000 each to the flood-displaced families in the last fiscal year, only a few families have received the grant and that too not in full amount.

According to the Urban Development and Building Construction Division Office, 711 families (whose houses and land plots were swept away by the floods) received

Rs 50,000 as the first instalment to purchase land plots. Only eight families have received the second instalment of the grant so far.

The flood-displaced families have said that the sum of Rs 50,000 provided by the government to purchase land is too little.

“Rs 50,000 is not enough to purchase a land plot. We can’t build a house if we don’t have a plot of land,” Rokaya told the Post.

Three years ago, the federal government had prepared a working guideline to provide relief to the flood-affected families on par with the survivors of the 2015 earthquakes, but the funds for the grant programme was discontinued from the last fiscal year.

Tul Khadka, the spokesperson of Ministry of Internal Affairs and Law, said the federal government had so far released only Rs 59 million as a special grant.

“The federal government has not released funds in the current fiscal year. That’s why the flood victims haven’t received the second instalment,” said Khadka.