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Landless locals collect wood from Koshi for a living

RAJBIRAJ: At a time when festivities of Dashain have spread all over the district, Shibu Mandal of Hanumannagar Kankalini Municipality in Saptari is busy collecting wood that come floating over Koshi river.

Mandal, who earns his living by collecting such chunks of wood, has not been touched by the festivities going on around him. Not just him but 30 other families — of a settlement near the Koshi bank who do not own any land — have the same source of livelihood.

Local Baleshwar Mukhiya shared that he wakes up at 3:00 am everyday and uses a boat to reach Koshi Barrage area, three kilometres north from his settlement, to collect floating pieces of wood which he later sells in Hanumannagar. He added that he has to wake up so early to reach the barrage because if he doesn’t then somebody else will take away the find.

He further added that the men take out boats to find the wood that come floating along the river while the women sell the collected wood. “Our main occupation is to wait for and collect the wood, mostly from June to October, as this is the time when water level of Koshi river is high.”

Similarly, Ramsewak Mukhiya, yet another local who engages himself in the same work, also said that he collects wood during June to October and is engaged in some other work during the rest of the year. He went on to add that with the income from these occupations he has been taking care of his children’s education.
“We have to work so hard because we are not educated, however, we wish that our children do not have to endure such circumstance.”
People of the settlement live in small huts near the bank of Koshi river. They have requested authorities to provide them with safer settlements. Mandal, who was among those affected by the flooding of August 28 added, “We would be satisfied if we could keep our children safe from such incidents of flooding; then we would continue to work in peace.”
Meanwhile, mayor of Hanumannagar Kankalini Municipality Shailesh Sah said that efforts were going on to relocate those at risk of flooding to safer areas.  source : The himalayantime

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