Quake victims of Konje have no land to build houses

By Narendra Dhakal

Gorkha, Oct. 25: About 33 families residing in temporary houses at Alagaun of Barpak in Gorkha district, the epicentre of the devastating earthquake of 2015, are now in a dilemma.

Although the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) has set a deadline for receiving the government housing grant, according to which the beneficiaries must collect all three installments by mid-July 2018, the quake-hit households of Konje have yet to begin constructing their homes.

There were about 20 houses in Konje that now lies in Sulikot Rural Municipality-2. On the very day of the devastating quake, all of them went to take shelter in Alagaun after the land in Konje developed several cracks.

“The earthquake ravaged the entire village. Many cracks developed in the village, and we were afraid to live there. Therefore, we moved to Alagaun for shelter on the very day of the quake,” said Dhani Ram Ghale, a local from the village.

The land on which they have been residing for 31 months belongs to six families of Barpak.

They have been living in temporary shelters constructed on land belonging to others. They have no land to build their own home even though they have received the first installment of the house reconstruction grant, i.e. Rs. 50,000.

“We want to construct a quake-resilient house and live in our own home. We have also received the money provided by the government, but none of us have land to build houses,” said Ghale.

He said that all the victims were ready to build quake-resistant houses if they were provided land for the purpose.

It is an hour’s trek from Alagaun to Konje.

Following the quake, most of the land in Konje caved in, and stones and soil keep on falling from the hill above.

Therefore, no family wants to return to the village for fear of landslides and other disasters.

According to Ghale, some families have decided to buy land in Alagaun to build a house while poor families are being forced to return to Konje.

The Konje people want to buy land in Alagaun and other areas of Barpak, but the locals don’t want to sell their ancestral property.

However, after many rounds of talks and requests by the displaced families, the locals of Barpak have shown the readiness to provide land to the Konje people to build their homes.

Land in Barpak is very high compared to neighbouring villages. A ropani of land in Barpak costs about Rs. 800,000.

The displaced families have repeatedly requested the government to solve their problems.

They had asked KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda-led governments to relocate their settlement, but they have no idea if their request ever reached the Prime Minister’s Office.

“We had also submitted an application for a relocation of our village to the Prime Ministers when they visited Barpak, but so far there has been no action,” said Ghale.

The government hasn’t sent an expert to study the geological condition of Konje village.

Acting chief of Gorkha District Coordination Committee Secretariat of the NRA Shiva Lal Poudel said that he was unaware about the condition of Konje village and its inhabitants.

“I have no information and reports about Konje. I will try to study the situation and coordinate with the concerned bodies to resolve the issue,” he said.

About a dozen settlements in Gorkha face the same situation as Konje.

 

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