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Everest avalanche victims still await relief

KATHMANDU: Yawning gap between pledges and delivery is becoming unbearable for the bereaved families of the Mt Everest avalanche victims.

Three months have already passed since its announcement but the government has not provided compensation of Rs 5 lakhs each to the 16 families of avalanche victims.

Six families of the mountaineering support staff and guides who were killed in the deadliest April 18 avalanche have not even received the insurance amount of Rs 1 million. They rue that they had only received Rs 40,000 as funeral expenses from the government.

“We have not received any communication from the government or the mountaineering authorities about the compensation or insurance amount,” Pasang Lhamu, who lost her husband Then Dorjee Sherpa, 34, told this daily.

Ngima Dorjee, brother of Phurba Ongyal, 25, of Khumjung, Solukhumbu, said the poverty-stricken family had been hard pressed to make ends meet after losing Phurba, the sole bread-winner of the family of four.

Families of Dorjee Khatri, Phur Temba Sherpa, Lakpa Tenjing Sherpa and Tshiring Ongchu Sherpa, who have also not received the insurance amount, said they had been enquiring with the trekking company daily for the insurance, but to no avail. They accused the trekking company of holding their insurance amount.

Bhim Poudel, Manager at Himalayan Guides Nepal Treks and Expeditions, who employed six of the deceased for Adventure Consultants Everest Expedition and Adventurist Everest Expedition, however, said the insurance issue would be resolved soon, maybe within a week.

Apathy of the authorities concerned has also put question mark over the implementation of some of the agreed plans, such as setting-up a memorial park in Kathmandu and providing a life insurance cover of Rs 1.5 million, a Rs 500,000 raise in the existing insurance amount for the guides.

On April 22, minister Bhim Acharya had announced an increment in insurance and made a commitment that certain amount of royalty collected from the expedition teams will go to mountaineering relief fund.

“No budget has been allocated for memorial park or under other heads for addressing the concerns of bereaved Sherpa community,” an official told THT.

Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation Madhu Sudan Burlakoti, who leads the tourism industry division, also passed the buck to ministry of finance and planning and evaluation division of MoTCA.

“My department has forwarded the files to the ministry of finance and planning department for further action but they have not responded yet,” he told this daily.

Burlakoti claimed that the announcement to raise the insurance amount from next season did not materalise, as expedition operators had not responded positively to the proposal. “Procedural ambiguities could be the reason for delay in releasing compensation amount,” he said.

Source: The Himalayan Times
Date: 26 July, 2014

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Sanju G.C

Sanju G.C

An avid wanderer, observer and a travel writer, Sanju loves to share her experiences through words. She has extensively traveled in the South Eastern Regions. Sanju now plans to travel the world, “travel does not make connections, it build relations,” she quotes.
Sanju G.C

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