On June 15, the flooded Melamchi river swept away the house and property of 50-year-old Shiva Lamichhane, a resident of Gyalthum in Helambu Rural Municipality Ward No. 4.
Since then, Lamichhane’s family had been taking shelter under tents and flimsy makeshift huts. On Wednesday, Lamichhane and his family members came down to Melamchi bazaar with their belongings. They were on their way to Kathmandu with no intention of returning to their village.
“Our house and arable land plots have been buried by Melamchi floods. There’s nowhere to stay and nothing left to eat. That’s why we don’t want to stay here. We are going to Kathmandu to seek a livelihood,” said Lamichhane. “We couldn’t have stayed back to wait for another disaster to occur. So we decided to move to Kathmandu even though we don’t have any concrete plans.”
The floods of June 15 destroyed several hectares of arable land in Kiul, Gyalthum and Palchok of Helambu Rural Municipality. “The area has been totally devastated. Melamchi floods have destroyed our source of livelihood so we don’t want to stay here anymore,” said Lamichhane.
According to the District Police Office in Sindhupalchok, five people died and 20 individuals went missing in the Melamchi floods of June 15.
In total, 1,500 families of Helambu and Panchpokhari Thangpal rural municipalities and Melamchi Municipality have been affected by the flooding, according to the District Administration Office in Sindhupalchok. The raging river had swept away eight resorts, two motorable bridges and six suspension bridges from Helambu to Melamchi Bazaar, the office said.
On Wednesday, 32-year-old Subhadra Rupakheti of Chanaute in Helambu Rural Municipality Ward No. 7 was also found travelling to Kathmandu with her husband. “There’s only sand left where our fertile land once lay. How long can we live here? So we decided to go to Kathmandu and try our luck in the city.”
According to Rupakheti, a majority of the disaster survivors are moving to Kathmandu and to Kavre district after the flood disrupted their lives.
Since the disaster, 227 flood victims of Helambu are staying in temporary shelters provided by the local government and donors. Other 180 flood victims of Melamchi Municipality are living in rented rooms after their houses were swept away by the flooded river.
Shyam Krishna Shrestha, a flood victim of Ward No. 11 of Melamchi bazaar, said, “I also have plans to go to Kathmandu. I don’t have anything left here.”
According to the data of the District Disaster Management Committee in Sindhupalchok, around 700 flood-displaced families of Helambu and Melamchi have already moved to Banepa, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur and Kathmandu to seek a livelihood.
Nimagyalgen Sherpa, chairman of Helambu Rural Municipality, and Dambar Aryal, mayor of Melamchi Municipality, say the local units are making efforts to put a stop to the migration and resettle the flood-displaced households.
“We have a phase-wise plan to construct temporary residences for 227 flood-displaced families in the Helambu area,” said Sherpa. “We are building 79 houses in the first phase.”
Likewise, Melamchi Municipality has been providing various relief packages to the flood-affected households in Melamchi bazaar.
“Initially, we have decided to provide Rs 30,000 to those flood-affected families who have lost their houses and Rs 20,000 to those who are at risk of flooding in Melamchi,” said Aryal.