If you observe Barpark, the epicentre of the 2015 earthquake from afar, you’d think that the people living there have gotten over the devastation. However, if you talk to the people, you’ll learn that most of them are still terrified.
For people like Jit Bahadur Ghale, it’s not easy to forget the quake which killed 72 people in the village and reduced over 1,400 homes to rubble in a few years. Even though the past haunts him, he seems to have learned to live with it.
The village, in the past four years, has risen from the rubble, but in doing so has lost its uniqueness. Barpark was a place known for its thatched roofs and mud houses, but those structures are now a thing of the past. The mud houses have been replaced by concrete ones and the stone roofs by galvanised sheets.
Ghale, who grew up around those traditional houses, doesn’t like the new look of his village either. “I think the place is neither a village nor a city. It’s a place lost in transition. I don’t think tourists will be coming to our village anymore,” he shares.
It’s not just the place that has changed. Ghale shares that the eating habits of the village has changed as well.
“People from all over Nepal came here to eat dhido (a typical Nepali dish made up of flour and water), gundruk (dried leafy vegetables) and sisnu (nettle) along with local chicken gravy. But the local chicken has been replaced by boiler chicken and the traditional food has been replaced by instant easy to cook noodles,” shares Ghale.
Owner of Rupinal Guest House Min Bahadur Gurung agrees with Ghale. He adds that he cannot offer his guests local food even though he wants to. According to him, it has been easy for people to eat packet products as it means they won’t have to work in their fields.
Potatoes, cauliflower, beans, and peas were some vegetable products from Barpark that was revered by the entire country, however, with reconstruction work ongoing, people have stopped farming.
Another local from Barpark Krishna Sunar shares that local chicken started to die after people started bringing boiler chickens from nearby cities.
Sunar further adds that the Buddhist village no longer has the charm it once did. “The earthquake took away our traditional as well it seems,” he adds.
However, the village has seen some form of development after the earthquake. Firstly, the village got a lot of investment. That has helped in the reconstruction process. A road is being built till Barpark to connect it with nearby cities and as people got a lot of skill-based training, employment has risen.
Along with that reconstruction in the area is also going smoothly. According to Ward No 1 chair Roshan BK, of the 1,309 beneficiaries, around 85 per cent of them have already built their homes while the remaining 15 per cent are in the process of rebuilding.
He further added that around 114 homes which were not in the beneficiary list have submitted their grievance redressal forms.
Health posts have been rebuilt along with the Himalaya Secondary School. The earthquake which has damaged all 22 homes of Barpark community homestay is also slowly coming into operation.