KATHMANDU, Nepal â€” Authorities tore down hundreds of makeshift huts in Nepal’s capital on Tuesday, using bulldozers to level the largest temporary camp housing people who were made homeless when a devastating earthquake rocked the country two years ago.
Wearing riot gear, police said they destroyed about 440 huts made of bamboo and plastic sheeting which had been home to about 2,000 people near Kathmandu’s Boudha Shrine.
Settlers had been given one month’s notice, but still were taken by surprise when the bulldozers appeared. Many rushed to collect their belongings, saying they had nowhere else to go after authorities offered no alternative housing.
“Our home is destroyed. I have no idea where I am going to go and live with my 1-year-old baby,” said Chameli Pariyar, 40, who said she was too sick to work and planned to beg in nearby temples.
Authorities said they were urging the residents to instead apply for government aid to help rebuild their homes.
“We gave them enough time to leave and told them to go back to their villages, so they can collect the grant given by the government,” said Him Nath Dawadi, a government administrator in Kathmandu.
Nepal has been sharply criticized for moving slowly in helping people rebuild after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake ripped across the Himalayan nation in April 2015, killing 9,000 people and destroying nearly a million homes and structures.
Only about $250 million in aid has been dispersed for some 554,614 homeless families, out of a total $2.6 billion Nepal has collected from $4 billion pledged by foreign governments, according to the National Reconstruction Authority.
The payments already made cover just the first $450 installment out of a planned total of $1,890 for each qualifying family.
The Boudha camp destroyed Tuesday was the largest makeshift camp for those displaced by the earthquake. There are dozens of other smaller makeshift camps around the Nepalese capital, but officials said there are no immediate plans to demolish those.
The government-funded National Human Rights Commission criticized the Boudha camp destruction, and said it would press the government to help the displaced residents.
“This was an inhuman act by the authorities,” said Mohna Ansari of the commission.
Binaj Gurubacharya, The Associated Press