Achham – There is no doubt road construction is the prerequisite for any kind of development. But the unplanned development has often been creating problems.
Experts say the practice of undertaking development projects in a haphazard manner without even conducting the Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) have inviting disasters. Various places, mainly with weak topsoil, are facing increasing risks of landslides. Some of the human settlements have been displaced, while others are facing the risk of displaces.
Sera village in Kamal Bazaar Municipality-7 of Achham district is not immune to landslides due to unplanned development. In 2067BS, local authorities tried to open a motor able road in ward 4 and 5 of Kamal Bazaar Municipality. But the dream was aborted after a huge landslide in 2069 BS. A child was perished while digging the road. Had the plan to build the road been successful, the road network would have been linked with Mangelsen of Achham.
Later another alternative was explored. And then another plan was made in 2073 BS to build a road connecting Kamal Bazaar to Sera via Dhaku. The road building work started from 2073 and the project was completed in a month. The opening of motorable road made the villagers happy. However, the elation couldn’t last longer as a huge land slide destroyed the newly built road the following monsoon.
“We were all happy when motor vehicles came to village. But the road was damaged by the landslide the very next year,” says, Rana Bahadur Bhandari, of Kamal Bazaar Municipality-7. Currently, the road access of the villagers has reached up to Karnali Highway. Because of the access to the highway, it has been easier to reach the district headquarters Mangelsen via the Kamal Bazaar. However, the road is also at risk.
Jagat Bahadur Bista, of Kamal Bazaar-8, lost nearly 25 ropani land during the road construction project. Now his house is also at risk. “Then we didn’t think that the road construction would cause destruction,” said Bista. “We offered the land weighing various pros and cons though we had doubts that there could be landslides. They also assured of adopting measures to control the landslide. We also thought it would be easier for us to travel to our land in Sera.”
Nearly 30 households and a school are at high risk of landslide. Locals think that the entire village could be at the brink of displacement if the landslides continue.
The village is considered the pocket area in terms of crop production in Achham district. This is the second most fertile land in the district after Kalimati. Crops such as rice, corn, mustard and millet are grown here. In this village recognized for its good harvest, 200 ropanis of land has been destroyed by landslides. The remaining arable land is also facing the risk of landslides.
Now it is time to harvest winter crops. But the locals are in a dilemma whether or not to cultivate the crops. Locals, who were expecting prosperity after the construction of road, are now are worried lot. “We used to grow crops here before. But we haven’t been able to cultivate the land,” said Bista. “This arable land we inherited from our ancestors was good before.”
Gauri Bhandari, a student, says they fear landslides while the commute back and forth to school. Lokendra Nepali, a member of Kamal Bazaar Municipality-7, doesn’t want the future generations to face the problems. He says the technical study should be conducted before building the road. He has been raising voices to conduct study for risk assessment after the plan to build the road was unveiled.
Nepali says he has witnessed destructions in other places due to haphazard construction of roads. “For instance, we build a road tomorrow by spending Rs 50 million tomorrow. But if the road and the land are destroyed by landslides, the development we’ve undertaken would be meaningless.”
Kamal Bazar Municipality-7 Chairman Govinda Bhandari said Achham district has been witnessing the bulldozer terror just like other places have been facing terror of elephant, and bore. “Roads are built by using dozers day in and day out. But the consequences of using excavators are not considered,” he said.
Bhandari says the future road construction project would be prioritized by taking their long-term effect into account. “There must be embankment and tree plantation along with the road construction,” said Padma Raj Joshi, Principle of Padmasen Elementary School.