KATHMANDU: Police in riot gear stood guard on Tuesday as Nepali civic officials used bulldozers to tear down a relief camp in the capital for victims of the 2015 earthquake, in a bid to force people to return to their home villages.
The quake killed 9,000 people and destroyed nearly one million homes, monuments and other structures, but reconstruction has been slow and the government’s attention has been diverted by a prolonged political crisis.
About 2,000 people were staying in roughly 440 demolished huts fashioned out of bamboo and plastic on prime land in the heart of Kathmandu, refusing to go back and rebuild their homes, said one official.
The camps were meant to be temporary shelters for the survivors of the Himalayan nation’s worst natural disaster in nearly a century, said Him Nath Dawadi, the capital’s most senior bureaucrat.
“They should take the money provided by the government and rebuild their homes now,” he added.
But just 76,000 homes have been rebuilt, government figures show, and 553,000 families have received the first installment of nearly $500 in rebuilding aid.
That compares with more than 600,000 families hit by the quake, each of which is entitled to receive $2,000 in aid.
“I don’t have any house of my own to rebuild and can’t find any room on rent to move from the camp,” said labourer Bimal Dulal, 52, who had lived in the Kathmandu camp since 2015.