(Photo Source: Google)
Mid April 2014, a deadly avalanche on Mt. Everest killed over a dozen Sherpa guides. After a long dispute between the Nepalese government and the Sherpas, few of the insurance, compensation and safety related demands were met by the government. Foresight of the government and the relevant agencies would have made the aftermath a lot smoother as far as adequate insurance compensations for the deceased trekkers’ families were concerned.
Around the same time, late April 2014, A landslide hit the tunnel of Upper Madi Hydropower Project (25 MW) in Sildjure VDC, Kaski district of Nepal. Over a dozen workers including a Chinese national were trapped in the under-construction tunnel. Three workers were found dead while rest were saved after a long and treacherous rescue efforts.
A massive landslide in Sindhupalchowk district of Nepal took hundreds of lives in early August, 2014. The Sunkoshi River and the roads were blocked in the region for weeks. Thousands of people in the region were affected and struggled for livelihood. The Sunkoshi Small Hydro-power Plant (2.5MW) remained submerged underwater for weeks when the river rose up to 30 meters in height forming a pool of water following the landslide and river-blockage.
In the following days, the landslide triggered chain of events including loss of lives, properties, infrastructures, supply-chain and businesses in many sectors. Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) estimates that, between June and September, 2014, there were 265 dead, 256 missing and 157 injured due to floods and landslides alone.
Around mid-October 2014, cyclone Hudhud, hovering in Nepalese sky, claimed dozens of lives and left unforgettable scars in the domestic tourism circuit. Although storms and heavy rain caused by Hudhud was devastating in the Indian states of Orissa and Adhra Pradesh, the scale of damages predicted for Nepal was rather moderate at the time. On the contrary, by the time the cyclone reached the heights of Nepalese mountains, it triggered deadly snow blizzards and avalanches in the Himalayas. There were hundreds of trekkers (national and foreign) on the mountains while means of communication were mostly disrupted when the storm hit the region.
It is apparent that the weather related information were not spread out in accurate and timely manner to the end users. The hydrological system in South Asia is strongly controlled by the Himalayas, which act as barriers for monsoon rains. The Hudhud’s effects could have been expected or minimized (if not predicted or prevented) by the Goernment and preparedness/response procedure (if it already had one in place) could have been followed to mitigate the loss.
Nearly 82 years after the mega earthquake of BS 1990, Nepalese were heavily shaken by the recent M 7.6 earthquake on Saturday, 25th April, 2015 and a major aftershock of M 6.8 on Tuesday, 12th May, 2015. Although the earthquake-epicenters were located in Gorkha and Dolakha districts respectively, the devastations left around 9,000 dead, 23,000 injured and thousands homeless all over the country. As per the Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA), the private sectors have sustained over three times in damages and losses i.e. NPR 540 billion compared to the damages and losses of NPR 166 billion incurred by the public sectors.
More recently, the economic blockade imposed by India is no less than a man-made disaster for the Nepalese people and businesses facing dire need of petroleum products and other emergency supplies. Besides day to day inconveniences faced by the people, thousands of private sector industries and businesses were shut down within a week due to inadequate supply of fuel and raw materials from India. The blockade has interfered with every possible socio-economic dynamics of the country including, transportation, schools, hospitals, offices, business, services, households, festivals, entertainment, etc….
(NOTE: Please click the link below to read the entire article “Series of Disasters in Nepal: An Urgent Call for Preparedness”)
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