Landslides and floods, which occur during the rainy season every year, cause great damage to settlements and arable land across the country. While the untamed rivers and rivulets in the Terai cause havoc by sweeping away the paddy fields and inundating human settlements, in the mountains the landslips destroy human settlements and farmlands. Development infrastructure like power projects and roads also get damaged. A large number of people in Nepal become homeless every year due to such landslides and floods. Many of the victims of such natural catastrophes are unable to find a place to settle and must live miserably in the jungles, on the river banks or by encroaching public lands. When they have lost everything, including the farms, they are compelled to live with much difficulty.
Rehabilitating the flood and landslide victims has become one of the biggest problems facing the state. However, little has been done to prevent the landslips and floods. The case of the Satake landslide of Sangrumba Village Development Committee in Ilam is a testimony to this. Almost 40 years after the landslip began, a budget of Rs. 3.2 million was allocated this year to prevent it. Since 1955 when the landslip began first, it has swept away almost five wards of the VDC, including 22 houses and thousands of ropanis of fertile farmland of the village. A large area of the fertile flat farm has turned into a barren slope over the past four decades, and the helpless people have no alternative but to shift to a safer place every monsoon. Although the allocated budget was insufficient, considering the area that has been damaged by the landslip, it is a good beginning. Had the people been provided the budget a decade back, the damage done could have been prevented or minimised.
In fact, the government needs to focus on preventive measures to save lives and avoid damage to property in time from floods and landslides. However, in most cases, the government applies preventive measures only after much damage has been caused by the natural calamity. Instances of the Koshi floods in 2008 and the Mahakali floods in 2010 are testimony to this. The victims of the two floods are yet to be rehabilitated properly. By applying preventive measures, arable land can be protected. For example, thousands bighas of arable land could be saved by building embankments on either side of the rivers and streams of the Terai. The landless squatters and the people displaced by the floods and landslides could be rehabilitated in those areas. Moreover, such preventive measures are also a must to protect the environment and maintain ecological balance. A genuine effort to prevent rain-induced destruction will benefit all.