Nepal is now going through a sad and difficult moment as the extreme and intense off-season rains have brought unthinkable devastations once again to many parts of the country. The calamities have taken scores of human lives and caused huge damage to infrastructures such as roads, bridges, electricity and communication systems, private homes and ready-to-harvest paddy crops. The death toll from the latest flash floods, landslides and inundations caused by the post-monsoon rains has exceeded 86 as of Wednesday evening while 27 others have gone missing in different parts of the country. Province 1 has recorded the highest number of casualties (57) while the number of lost lives in Sudurpaschim stands at 29. With 27 deaths, Panchthar in Province 1 is the worst-hit district as per the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Authority (NDRRMA) under the Ministry of Home Affairs. According to the updates maintained by the NDRRMA, a total of 136 people had lost their lives while 45 have gone missing and as many as 144 wounded in the rain-caused calamities from June 14 to October 9 this year. But it is terrible that the loss of lives recorded on Monday and Tuesday this week was more than half the deaths reported during the four-month rainy season this year.
The low pressure trough that had been built up in the Gangetic plains after the emergence of cyclones in the Bay of Bengal and the westerly winds coming from the Arabian Sea triggered the extreme rainfalls coupled with storms. Climate change has been attributed to extreme and erratic weather phenomenon like this. The government, in close coordination with different bodies, has expedited search, rescue and relief operations in the disaster-hit areas. With the active mobilisation of Nepal Police, Armed Police Force and Nepali Army, the evacuation work has been going on in an effective manner. The government has decided to provide Rs. 200,000 each to the families who have lost their members in the disasters. It is also making available up to Rs. 500,000 in aid to rebuild a house and Rs. 50,000 per victim family for building temporary shelters.
Farmers across the Terai region have suffered a massive loss due to the downpours and floods as they have been unsuccessful in harvesting their paddy. No official estimation has so far been made so as to measure the exact damage caused by the rain-induced disasters. However, the calamities are believed to have ravaged the paddy crops considerably. Agriculture is the mainstay of the national economy in Nepal. It accounts for about 26 per cent to the gross domestic product (GDP). Among the crop varieties, paddy is the most important one. Its contribution to GDP stands at about seven per cent. Thus, the loss of paddy could be detrimental to the country’s economic growth this year.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has instructed the authorities concerned to provide relief to the disaster-hit people, search those who have gone missing and work towards rehabilitation of those who have been rendered homeless. PM Deuba, who was addressing the eighth meeting of the National Council for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management on Wednesday evening, directed the Ministry of Finance to guarantee that there would be no crunch of budget for disaster management works. The meeting also decided to immediately ensure to resume the operation of the damaged roadways, electricity supply and communication services in the disaster-affected areas.