Bagmati River Slum Razed


Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 18:19 PM EDT, 10 May 2012

Slum Children, Kathmandu, Nepal, Photo by Takayuki ShiraiwaKATHMANDU, Nepal – Wednesday, 8 May 2012, was a day of great disruption and equal measure of sorrow for the residents of the shanty town at UN Park in the Thapathali area in Kathmandu. Most of the make-shift neighborhood encompassed an area 400-metre long, running from the Bagmati Bridge to Buddhanagar.

The poorest of the poor had built a shanty town on the banks of the Bagmati River where between 1,300 and 1,500 residents raised families and eked out a living by shifting through the rubbish discarded by more affluent Nepalese.

This is not the first time that their lean-to houses with corrugated steel roofs have been razed to the ground. As in the past, the government initiated the of residents of this and other slums around the area, leaving them with no recourse or options and no place to go.

Many residents cried, some screamed angry epithets, others threw stones, and then some just sat in resigned silence as a total of 251 houses were demolished by security personnel from various government agencies. In the past, the residents quickly rebuilt their dwellings, but this time may be different as certain elements in the government are pushing for the permanent eradication of this "public blight."

According to news sources “The government, in a show of force, dispatched 2,200 security personnel from Nepal Police (NP), the Armed Police Force (APF) and the City Police. The joint force led by SSP Jay Bahadur Chand from the NP and SP Sanjay Rana from the APF used four bulldozers to bring down the houses. “

Beyond the loss of their dwellings, possessions, and food, many of the residents were upset by the callous and inhumane treatment they were subjected to by the soldiers and police. Some were able to salvage their meager belongings, but most of their possessions which were viewed as trash, were bulldozed under with the rest of the buildings.

There are many countries in emerging markets in which governments face overwhelming social and financial challenges as well as corruption. As a consequence, the provision of a safety net via social services for their most vulnerable citizens is relegated to a low or non-existent priority.

The complaint by many residents of the Bagmati shanty town, was that the government failed to provide shelter for homeless people prior to them building these residences for themselves. Additionally, they complained that before their eviction, they were given insufficient notice and no offer of alternative options for housing. Not only do these residents have no place to go, they have no food, no water, and now no hope.

Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor: @ayannanahmias