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A Publication
on The Status of
Adivasi Populations
of India




Towns And Villages Totally Devastated And 90% Clinics And Schools Are Unusable In Nepal

By Countercurrents.org

01 May, 2015

With further rise in death toll, devastation of thousands of villages and slow pace of rescue and relief operations the survivors in Nepal earthquake are facing a desperate situation. In areas, towns and villages suffered total devastation. Today, a report said some 600,000 houses have been destroyed in 13 districts.

Death toll in the Nepal earthquake, as of afternoon of May 1, 2015, stood 6,204 people while the number of injured persons was 13,932, and the fate of thousands more in remote areas remains unknown. However, rescue of a few persons after more than 100 hours have made people cheerful for moments.

Devastating pictures are emerging as media reports said:

Thousands of villages have been devastated, with up to 90% of clinics and schools in some districts rendered unusable.

Towns and villages near the epicenter of Saturday's earthquake have suffered "almost total devastation", said the Red Cross.

Survivors’ "desperate situation", and growing anger at the government's response to the disaster with a number of protests breaking out is an emerging reality in post-quake Nepal.

Severe shortage of helicopters is hampering relief operation. China and UK are sending more helicopters while Nepal has appealed to other countries for more helicopters.

An International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) statement said the badly hit Sindhupalchok, north-east of Kathmandu, stood out as one of the worst affected areas. The number of death there is about 1,400 people, and about 90% of the homes are destroyed. Up to 40,000 homes are estimated to have been destroyed in Sindhupalchok. The hospital has collapsed, and people are digging through the rubble with their hands in the hope that they might find family members who are still alive. Three thousand people are still unaccounted for in the Sindhupalchowk district.

“There are still injured there who have not been treated. Whole villages are flattened. They need tents very badly,” said Kempo Chimed Tsering, a local religious leader.

Little is known about northern areas of the Gorkha district where about 10,000 lived. Local officials fear widespread destruction.

An IFRC official said: The situation to be the same if not worse in many other places where aid has not yet been delivered.

Shortages of food and water in the capital have forced thousands of workers to board buses and flee to their home towns and villages.

Kathmandu is slowly returning to normal with power supplies and communication networks restored to most of the city.

The epicenter is still far away

A Gorkha, May 1 datelined report in ekantipur.com said: 90% of the houses in the village Barpak that stood right above the epicenter was flattened by the earthquake.

The report by Pragati Shahi said:

More than 70 villagers perished in the disaster, mostly elderly and children. The casualties could have been far worse if the earthquake had occurred at night. Most of the villagers who survived the disaster were outdoors, working their land, at the time of the quake.

There were around 1,200 households in Barpak. Most of those are gone now.

Once a picturesque village located along the famous Manaslu circuit, all that is remaining of Barpak today is rubble piles, a lot of them. A large majority of the villagers have been rendered homeless in the aftermath of the earthquake. Even their farmlands are riddled with cracks.

The condition is no different in nearby Taple village where the earthquake has damaged nearly 95 percent of the houses. People are living under extreme condition under makeshift tents there. They have not received any relief even six days after the earthquake.

The “Help yet to reach epicenter” headlined report said:

Chief District Officer of Gorkha Uddav Timilsina said geographical remoteness and bad weather condition have hindered their efforts to take relief materials to northern region of the district, including Barpak and Taple.

According to Timilsina, there is a need of at least 50,000 tents in the district. So far, Gorkha district has received only 3,500.

“These villages were in the famous trekking route and the tourists came to see the traditional architectural houses built with stones, mud and wood. However, we never thought of the vulnerabilities they posses due to their poor structure,” said Timilsina adding, “We learnt a lesson from this disaster. Now, we will enforce and encourage the people to build earthquake -resistant structures while constructing the new buildings in these areas,” he said.

Affected families are living under severe conditions, without adequate food and a proper shelter,” said Shravan Kumar Joshi, chief of Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Gorkha chapter.

“We have already collected over 30 tons of relief materials, but it has not been able to reach the affected families,” Joshi said.

Where should I go?

Another ekantipur.com report said:

Even though fortunate enough to receive timely treatment, quake victims discharged from hospitals and health posts in the district Nuwakot have been burdened by additional trouble of managing food and accommodations all by themselves while being deprived of essential services like transport.

The lackluster response and failure to coordinate relief and rescue operations by the government is to blame for the predicament, they say.

The report by Prakash Adhikari cited a few survivors. The report said:

Pasang Sherpa, 55, from Ghyanphedi-1,who was airlifted to Trishuli Hospital and discharged after being treated for his injuries, expressed his dilemma stating that he had no idea as to where he should go or how he should provide for himself and his family members.

Although Sherpa’s family of four including his wife and two others were fortunate enough to survive the calamity, Sherpa complained that they had not received any kind of relief from the government or any other organizations as of Thursday.

While the government had on Thursday sent tents to some 500,000 locals displaced from 38 VDCs in the district, the relief package, surprisingly, did not comprise of food and other essential items meant for their survival.

Reports coming in say that these people displaced by the quake are without proper food or shelter, and have been hanging on to the hope of getting relief materials, but the concerned authorities have drastically failed in their job to ensure that.

The Nuwakot, May 1 datelined report said:

District health officials claim that approximately 1,300 earthquake victims have already received treatment over the past four days while two rescue helicopters continue bringing in victims on Thursday. The victims have been spending their days in the camps on empty stomach. They have even been deprived of basic necessities such as food, drinking water and medicines.

The predicament of victims has been further worsened due to the road blockades by landslips in various parts of the district, making it difficult to ferry in relief materials. And as local retailers have started running out of stock, shops in local markets which are running out of food items including biscuits, beaten rice, and noodles, are on the verge of closure, said local Dinesh Bhatta of Kahule VDC.

The “Victims scramble to find food, essentials” headlined report said:

Rescue workers have not been able to reach the many quake-affected VDCs. While more than 600 houses in each VDCs have turned into debris, relief materials allocated for the mare far from sufficient in comparison to the destruction.

Another Kathmandu, May 1 datelined report in ekantipur.com said:

There are widespread reports of a huge disparity between the demand for relief materials and the supply.

Out of 29 “severely affected” districts, 13 have yet to receive adequate food supplies and tents for shelter. In Gorkha, areas such as Barpak, Laprak, Baluwa and Muchchok have not received food aid and relief materials as multiple landslides triggered by the quake have blocked roads. Many villages in Sindhupalchok district also lost road access after a section of the connecting highway collapsed.

Compiling preliminary demands, local authorities in the 13 worst-hit districts estimate that some 600,000 tents are currently required to construct temporary shelters for victims before they can be resettled permanently. So far, only 50,000 tents have been distributed by the government.

The report by Bhadra Sharma said:

Based on preliminary records provided from disaster-hit districts, the Home Ministry estimates that some 600,000 houses have been destroyed in the 13 districts. The number of homeless families is bound to increase once estimates from the remaining 16 districts are added up.

The “Quake-hit people suffer as relief only trickles in” headlined report said:

The demand for relief met with an inadequate supply has even resulted in heated confrontation between relief -distributing government officials and dissatisfied locals. Even the Home Ministry officials have said that they are not satisfied with the ongoing relief distribution process.

Road obstructions and landslide have prevented food supplies from reaching remote areas of districts like Gorkha.

“I borrowed five kilograms of rice from my neighbours and managed to feed my three kids,” said Nar Bahadur Nepali, an earthquake victim from Dhiska VDC in Gorkha.

Nepali, a watchman for a local community forest, was desperate as his entire stock of food had been buried in rubble. “All my food has been buried by the earthquake. How can I live this way?” lamented Nepali.

In many districts, recently harvested winter grains like wheat and mustard have been buried by the quake. As they will have to wait until December to harvest the rainy season’s crops, locals fear for their food supply.

The Home Ministry is concerned with a possible famine in disaster-hit districts. So far, the government has distributed 1,611 quintals of rice, against a demand for many tonnes.

The government has asked the Ministry of Commerce and Supply to distribute food and non-food items as relief. Relief distribution process, which started on Monday, has only managed to distribute 155 quintals of salt and 310 quintals of sugar, in addition to rice. Seemingly in recognition of its failure to adequately distribute relief, the Home Ministry has released a budget of Rs. [Nepali currency] 200 to 400 million, mandating District Administration Offices to purchase rice in the 13 severely affected districts.

Deaths in vehicles

A “Death toll continues to increase; rescuers yet to reach many areas” headlined report in ekantipur.com said:

Almost a week after the quake, stifled cries for help of those trapped inside vehicles, heard for over three days, have died down. Owing to the lack of coordination in conducting relief and rescue works in Sindhupalchok, local authorities are yet to ascertain the number of people, including businessmen, pilgrims and tourists, missing since the disaster.

A major business hub and popular tourist destination, scores of people were crushed or trapped inside vehicles coming into Sindhupalchok following the landslip triggered by the quake. The dead bodies of passengers who died after the jeep they were traveling in was crushed by the landfall still remains stuck inside the vehicle.

Citing sources the Kathmandu, May 1 datelined report said:

“We have not been able to retrieve the body of one of our own, let alone others,” said a source at the Area Police Office (APO), hinting towards the deceased head constable whose body is yet to be retrieved from the debris of the landslide.

The horrific sight of dead bodies that can be seen crushed under the rubble of houses and vehicles along the 26 km stretch from Barahbise to Tatopani of Araniko Highway remains the same till date. The landslides triggered by the quake has destroyed bordering Liping, Kodari and Tatopani bazaar. While Nepal Police and Armed Police Force personnel deployed at bordering village of Larcha have gone to safer areas, a number of bodies lay buried at the site and the local administration is yet to ascertain the death toll.

Meanwhile, VDC chairperson Amrit Kumar Khadka said that around 150 victims at Gombadanda have not even had water to drink since the last three days. Similarly, Police Inspector Manjil Mukarung at the APO, Barahbise said that the situation at the bordering areas was beyond description and that rescue personnel have not been able to reach the affected areas due to road blockades. “We are trying to clear the roads though,” Mukarung said.

Diarrhoea and cholera

The report said:

Due to stymied rescue operations, Diarrhoea has spread in various remote settlements in Dolakha as dead bodies of humans along with carcasses of livestock lie strewn virtually everywhere.

The district has become prone to the outbreak of Cholera that has already spread at Alampu in the district since the past few days. Parshuram Mahato, the headmaster at a local school, told the Post that the disease gripped the settlement as the locals who survived the quake could not manage the bodies well.

According to Mahato, all 524 houses in the settlement have been demolished whereas some people have been buried under the rubble.

He said that victims have been living under the open sky on empty stomachs.

Local authorities said they learnt about Alampu being on the verge of Cholera outbreak from Mahato who reached the district headquarters on the sixth day of the disaster. Alampu is about two-day walk from Charikot.

After inspecting the area, DSP Ajaya KC said the settlement “is in a very pitiable condition.”

Alampu is just a case in point as hundreds of victims in several remote settlements are deprived of rescue and relief even on the sixth day of the calamity

Challenges ahead

Nepal faces challenges on numerous fronts in addition to the relief effort, including the reconstruction of collapsed latrines and the removal of the bodies of dead animals.

The UN has also warned of the challenges facing Nepal's farming community, which comprises up to two-thirds of the country's 27 million people.

It says that the quake destroyed seed stocks for the mid-May rice sowing season, as well as grains kept dry in stone storage huts that have now been razed to the ground.

If farmers miss this month's planting season, they will be unable to harvest rice - Nepal's staple food - until late 2016, said the UN.

Ram Sharan Mahat, the Nepalese finance minister, said it at least $2bn would be needed to rebuild homes, hospitals, government offices and historic buildings and he appealed for help from international donors.

“This is just an initial estimate and it will take time to assess the extent of damage and calculate the cost of rebuilding,” Mahat said.

Other estimates have been higher. Huge numbers of ancient monuments and important cultural buildings will also need to be restored, if they are not demolished. Major palaces in Kathmandu have been damaged and cracked.

Hundreds of thousands of people made homeless by the quake.

There are widespread fears of disease in remote areas and in Kathmandu. One pharmacist in the Lalitpur area of Kathmandu immediately sold his entire stock of anti-diahorrhea medicine and oral rehydration salts.


Nepal Earthquake






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