| 06-02-2017

Forceful eviction of Laxmanpur dam floods-affected

A forceful eviction was initiated last week in Durgamata community forest where more than 260 households of people affected by     Laxmanpur dam floods  had been taking temporary shelter,  complying with a 2016 decision by the District Disaster Relief Committee.

According to the Laxmanpur Dam Affected Struggle Committee, officials from the District Forest Office entered the area on 1 February and destroyed 23 huts out of the 41 households of Holiya VDC (Village Development Committees - lower administrative part in Nepal), before they were stopped by affected people who started a protest in front of the officials.

This happened although the Chief District Officer had allowed the flood-affected people to take temporary shelter in the community forest. Also, on 19 January 2017, the Ministerial cabinet had decided and approved a procedure to provide grants for the construction of permanent houses to affected people by floods in 2014.

A lack of coordination among government line agencies seems obvious, as the written commitment by the Chief District Officer has been breached by the District Forest Office. The latter argues that the community forest has been illegally encroached by those affected by the floods and that a 15-day ultimatum was given to leave the area.

The communities claim that the government didn't provide any alternative to them as for where to go. The President of Laxmanpur Dam Affected Struggle Committee Mr. Jagadish Bahadur Singh said: "Taking temporary shelter in the community forest is not by their choice. The people were displaced and seeking a safer place. The District Administration Office and District Disaster Relief Committee allowed them to live temporarily in the community forest. However, before forced eviction, the government shall provide an alternative resettlement".

Affected people met with the Chief District Officer and submitted a memorandum to stop the activities by the government. They also urged the National Human Rights Commission to take action by exerting pressure on the government.

Due to the man-made infrastructures of the Laxmanpur Barrage, Kalkalwa Afflux bund, and a border road in India, during every monsoon season, approximately 30 000 people are subjected to severe flooding of the Rapti River, which originates in Nepal and flows into India. The devastating consequences of the flooding include loss of human and animal lives and the damaging of property, crops, and harvested grains, often along with total erosion of agricultural lands as well as destruction of houses.

Measures to safeguard the affected communities, to prevent inundation as well as compensation and rehabilitation are not adequate,     according to reports collected during a recent visit by an international research team. The team included delegates from FIAN International and from Nepal, Norway and Germany in November 2016, who looked into the impact of the Laxmanpur barrage and Kalkalwa Afflux dam on the livelihoods of local populations.

FIAN Nepal has expressed deep concerns over the eviction and its impact on people's livelihoods. In order to mitigate the conflict and pave way to justice for the evictees, FIAN Nepal has already facilitated a site visit of representatives of the National Human Rights Commission, just one day after the eviction took place. On 10th February, a visit by representatives of the Parliamentarian Human Rights and Justice Committee will follow. FIAN Nepal reiterates the need for adequate rehabilitation, resettlement and compensation of affected people, as well as the adequate embankment and water drainage system as a safeguard.