Dalit Community In Earthquake-Hit Barpak Still Under Makeshift Huts

Dalit Community In Earthquake-Hit Barpak Still Under Makeshift Huts

12 Feb, 2022

By Narendra Dhakal Rising Nepal  

Gorkha, Feb. 12: More than six years have elapsed since the Gorkha earthquake struck in 2015. Since then, a vast majority of the destroyed or damaged houses by the quake have been reconstructed.

Of those, more than 65,000 private houses have been completed in the district. Some of them under construction are being constructed through the Urban Housing and Building Division Office in coordination with the local level.

Even though the reconstruction work has reached its final stage, the condition of the Dalit settlement in Barpak remains unchanged.

"The erstwhile government led by the then Nepal Communist Party did not address our demand. There is a new government today, but our demand for new houses remains to be addressed,” a local Suk Bahadur BK said.

Before the earthquake, along with the Barpak village, there was a beautiful settlement spread across an area of ​​eight ropanis and 5 annas called ‘Gaurigaun’ where these Dalit communities reside. The settlement, which is home to a 32-member Dalit community, was left in ruins by the quake. After that, the locals took shelter on government land. Seven of them have already built houses in the old place. Others have been living in makeshift huts on the government-owned land.

Uttam BK, a local, said, "We've been living in makeshift houses for so many years now in a dire condition.”
We have been barred from making home in the previous place citing earthquake risk by the geologists. The government had also decided to build an open museum in memory of Gorkha quake. However, the museum could not be built as some locals said they would not provide the land there.

Even though the museum was not built, the locals are demanding to build a house in the existing land by exchanging it with government land. "I have visited Singha Durbar about 50 times. Even the ministries have agreed to change the land ownerships," said local leader Suk Bahadur BK.

Because of the Cabinet decision, we are still not able to use our land and construct a home for us, BK said. Initially, the ward office and Barpak Sulikot Rural Municipality did not cooperate in providing or exchanging the land. “But the issue has been settled now but we are still waiting government decision from the cabinet level,” BK said.

Most of them have not even taken the first installment of the grant. Those who had have also deposited in the account for the purpose of building a house.

Other stakeholders have said that there is a political reason behind the unresolved issue of Dalit settlement in Barpak. "It's all about vote-bank politics. “In the past, most of the citizens of this village were associated with the Maoist party. Today, they have become democrats,” said local Amrit Gurung, “That is why, the ward office did not give them any recommendation for a long time.”

While most of the villagers have rebuilt houses and moved to safer places, only the locals of Dalit community are forced to suffer. Dhan Kumari BK, a local, said, "We have been unable to take a good sleep during night and proper rest during day in absence of proper homes.”

“Winter has also hit us hard. Both rains and snowfall have crippled our lives. Our children and elderlies are the ones suffering the most.”

Reconstruction work of Barpak Dalit village, Baguwa integrated settlement and other places are yet to be completed.