As dusk starts to set in, a sense of extreme nervousness grips Bhim Kumari Jyoti of Helambu rural municipality-7, Chanaut Bazaar. This is the time when the water level increases in the Melamchi Rivulet which passes through the Chanaut Bazaar. The thunders emanating from the friction of boulders further elevate her fear level.
She becomes anxious when the black clouds appear in the sky. “I become fearful with the emergence of dark clouds – again the downpour will flood the rivulet and inflict on our lives,” she said, adding, “We have not slept for the past three days due to fear of swollen rivulet and its dire consequences”.
The flood-fed Melamchi Rivulet on June 16 had washed away her house and land. A thunderous roar came from the rivulet at 7.00 pm. She observed abrupt soaring up of the rivulet which took away her home and land at 12:00 in the night.
The swollen rivulet on Wednesday wreaked havoc in Melamchi municipality and Helambu rural municipality-1, 2, and 6. Jyoti, 55, had not ever seen such a flood with thunders in the river.
Minmar Tamang of the same area also has a similar story to recount. The flood also swept his house and food grains. Now his family members are forced to live under a tent on a cliff.
Likewise, Bishnu Pratap Khadka also saw the never-ever rise in the level of the rivulet. “Light went off; a different sound came from the rivulet, all villagers gathered in a place but we could not do anything rather being a mere spectator of ravaging rivulet,” he recalled. “There was nothing in place. On the same day, I along with my sister-in-law had been to the fishery of my brother. Though I managed to run away from the fish farm with the rise in the water level, she could not. The notorious rivulet took her away.”
The violent river turned 50 ropanis lands of five Khadka brothers into a wasteland and washed away a fish farm of Bishnu’s younger brother.
According to Bhuwan Dangal, the flow of the river was rising since mid-June and it turned out to be devastating on June 17. “We felt the intensity of the giant flood more than of the 2015 earthquake. At one point, we reached a conclusion that the flood was going to decimate all of us, we survived the disaster luckily, though we lost the entire asset we had in the flood.’’
He is taking shelter under a tent in a nearby higher area since the disaster. The scale of flood-caused damages is higher than of the losses we incurred during the quake, he added. “At least we had a piece of land to rebuild our houses in the aftermath of the quake, but this time we are homeless as well as landless.”
Local Dhruba Bahadur Shrestha said the river rose to 10 meters higher than its normal level.
The disaster however caused no human loss here as people managed to escape it on time.
Chanaut Bazar would serve as the market especially for the people of the northern part of the district. It used to be busy all day. It looks like a desert since Wednesday’s unprecedented incidence. Most of the shops here have submerged in the water.
Local Helambu Youth Society Roshan Dangal said none could pick up their belongings at that time flood as it came all of a sudden in the evening. All the displaced are residing in the higher areas. After the flood, the traders have shifted safe stuff to a safer place.
“We are living in constant fear since Wednesday’s incidence as we are still unsafe from the disaster. The water’s level in the river has not gone down,’’ said Dangal. He said the flood swept away 20 houses out of 50 in the market area and causes the property loss (estimate) of around Rs 7 billion.
Displaced families to be rehabilitated
Bagmati province government Minister for industry, Tourism, Forests, and Environment, Saresh Nepal lamented that Sindhupalchowk district has been devastated again by floods when it had been coming out of the suffering wrought by the massive Jure landslide and the 2015 earthquake.
He shared that a search, rescue, and relief mission is ongoing in the Helambu and the Melamchi area at present with the help of a chopper. The province government minister said the people displaced from their homes due to the disaster would be permanently rehabilitated in a safer zone.
"The land required for rehabilitating the displaced families would be provided in collaboration with the local government and reconstruction would be carried out together with the federal government," he said, adding that the provincial government has already allocated the required budget for the rehabilitation.
According to him, the government is carrying out works in connection with the rehabilitation of the families remaining to be rehabilitated from last year and those displaced by the flood and landslide this year.
He added that the provincial government will immediately provide Rs 50 thousand to the displaced families, Rs 300 thousand to families not having houses and land for purchasing a land plot to build a house, and Rs 500 thousand for house construction.
Separate funds for infrastructure
The province government is to provide separate funds for the construction of infrastructures like roads, electrification, drains, and water supply near the house of the displaced families. "We will give this amount at the rate of Rs 500 thousand per family if a settlement of minimum of five families is set up. The government has formulated laws for this purpose and also allocated the budget. The province and local governments are responsible for this," he said.
Minister Nepal said the government will develop integrated settlements by shifting the settlements to another location from the at-risk place. Nearly 110 families have been displaced from Chanaut Bazaar.
The Bagmati province has provided 50 sets of heavy tents, 100 tarpaulins sheets, and 10 packets of medicines to the flood-affected households. Likewise, Tilaganga Eye Hospital has provided foodstuff to 100 families.