Shelter from the storm
Apr 6, 2019-
Sunday severe rainstorm in the Tarai caught its victims unawares. Most were just sitting down to dinner—their hearths still warm and food still steaming. The rainstorm, and the devastating winds that accompanied it, lasted for barely a few minutes as it moved, but in that time, it destroyed hundreds of homes and claimed over two dozen lives in the Tarai districts of Bara and Parsa. Most of the deaths were due to walls collapsing on their residents.
Since most homes were made out of mud and stone, the storm easily blew away roofs made of thatch or corrugated iron, leaving residents to spend the night under a naked sky, with only the stars for company. By morning, relief had arrived, and temporary tents distributed. Now, the victims have a plastic roof to sleep under, but they remain worried. With the monsoon fast on its way, these temporary tents will not last long. Then, there is the fear of diseases. Without proper sanitation and sewerage, risks of diseases like cholera, dysentery and malaria increase exponentially.
The government has since announced that it will provide restitution to the victims and will also underta=ke reconstruction of destroyed homes. The Nepal Army has been charged with rebuilding—a move that has invited criticism from some quarters. The government has also promised that homes will be reconstructed as soon as possible, before the monsoon arrives.
But victims remain skeptical. Locals have blamed political parties and amateur do-gooders for obstructing actual relief efforts, providing noodles and biscuits when cooked food and mosquito nets are needed. There are accusations of grandstanding and the diversion of resources to facilitate high-ranking government officials on photo-op visits.
On Tuesday, a group of irate survivors barged into their municipality office, demanding the equitable distribution of resources. But their most insistent demand was this: “We want roofs over our heads.”
Photos: Elite Joshi
Dayanti Devi, 38, Barbaliya.
Shivajee Raut Jaiswal, 47, Barbaliya.
Indhu Devi Betha, 40, Barbaliya.
Kailasiya Dekhi, 65, Barbaliya.
Khatu Mukhiya, 25, Barbaliya, with his four-month-old daughter.
Santi Devi, 70, Barbaliya.
Published: 06-04-2019 11:19