Gorkha hometown lies in ruins

Irregular chopper flights and relief distribution near quake epicentre

Gorkha hometown lies in ruins

Barpak in Gorkha district, the epicentre of Nepal's killer quake, has been wiped off the map following the calamity, and the area continues to be cut off from the main supply line of aid.

Almost all villages around the epicentre have been razed, compelling people to live in the open, braving the elements, as barely any government assistance has reached them even a week after the devastation.

Indian Army officials who flew over the area and villagers who trekked to these rural pockets said hardly anything stood in these villages.

“In Barpak, only four of the 1,400 houses are standing,” Man Bahadur, a retired soldier of the Gorkha regiment of the Indian Army, told Deccan Herald here.

“In a radius of 20-30 km around Barpak, all village houses were flattened,” said Maj Gen J S Sandhu, commander of the Indian Army task force in Nepal.  

The road link to Barpak is cut off completely. An Indian Army engineering team at Barpak has cleared only 85 metre of the road over the past few days.

Moving beyond Gorkha town—the district headquarters—requires either four-wheelers and dumpers or motorbikes, as the road is either non-existent or severely damaged. The rain and landslides that followed the quake have further damaged the road.

Almost all houses in villages like Rangrung, Pokhari, Laprak, Simjung, Gumda, Lapu, Manten and BK Settlements have been turned into rubble. “In my village, Dumsiri, only 10 houses out of 100 are standing, and even they are not in a habitable condition,” said Arjun Nepali, a resident of that village.

All 65 houses in Rangrung were demolished by the quake.

Till May 2, the official toll in this district stands at 410. and the administration is not even talking about the animals that died inside sheds, and their carcasses that pose health risks.

“Many animal carcasses are trapped inside, and they are stinking,” said local resident Krishna Bahadur Gurung.  

The temblor shook the battle-hardened Gorkha soldiers. “We love each other in the family. But when the earth shook, I ran for my life leaving everybody else behind,” said Subedar Major Tej Bahadur, a retired soldier who heads the Indian Army ex-servicemen's unit here. Currently, there are about 7,000 pensioners of the Indian Army in this hill district alone.  

Located about 160 km from Kathmandu, Gorkha sends thousands of soldiers to the Indian, Nepalese and British armies.

The town’s main marketplace town is relatively unscathed, but rows of completely damaged houses just ahead of the market bear testimony to the quake’s strength.
The locals, camping in the lawns of the Gorkha museum, say helicopter flights are irregular and relief distribution smacks of poor planning and politicking at the local level, even at the time of a national emergency.

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