Residents of Southern Tajikistan affected by mudflows blocked the road, requiring the authorities to relocate them to safe places. In another village near Dushanbe, residents claim that the mudflow was caused by the activity of a local businessman.
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Last week, residents of several regions of Tajikistan suffered from heavy rains and mudflows. Natural disasters occurred on the evening of May 14 and during May 15; several residents were left homeless and are now forced to live on the street.
Kurbonali Gulomov, the head of Zardida mahalla in the Sadriddin Ayni jamoat of the Khuroson district of Khatlon region, told CABAR.asia that the mudflow was very heavy on the first day and destroyed about 10 houses.
“However, on May 16, the flow of water and mud had decreased, but damaged several other houses. Currently, the number of damaged houses is more than 10,” Gulomov said.
In CABAR.asia interview, the residents of two affected jamoats of the Khuroson district noted that mudflow killed about 50 heads of cattle. In addition, several cars remain under the mud. Residents say they mudflows occur every year, but previously they did not affect them.
Safiya Khaitova, 75, resident of Zardida village, says mudflow destroyed her house.
“It is already the third day that I stay on the streets. My whole house is under the mud. It is no longer suitable for living. Four of my little grandchildren now live in other’s families. I address the authorities for help,” says Khaitova.
This is the second time during this year when heavy rains in the Khuroson district of the Khatlon region cause mudflows, which damage the residents’ houses. For the first time, the mudflow occurred in the evening of March 21 of the current year and killed one person.
The house of Saidmoh Kurbonova, 47, resident of the same village, was damaged twice by the mudflows. According to her, the house is in the area of high mudflow risk. Kurbonova is tired of constantly cleaning the house after the mudflows. She asks the authorities to provide her with land in a safe area.
Most residents of the affected villages lost food: flour, oil, as well as household items. They hoped that the authorities would assist them and at least provide food for the affected people, but no one helped them. After four days of waiting, they went to the Bohtar-Dushanbe road to protest against the lack of reaction from the local authorities.
In CABAR.asia interview, Rahmatullo Safarzoda, Chairman of the Khuroson district, said that he had met with the affected residents and promised to help them.
Khuroson district authorities reported that a 55-year-old man died and about 10 houses were destroyed in affected jamoats.
Murodjon Muhiddinov, spokesperson for the Khatlon’s Committee of Emergency Situations, said the agency’s employees are engaged in recovery work using various equipment and technologies. In addition, special commission of the Committee will assess the damage.
“The mudflow occurred on May 14, and the Committee’s employees are still working on disaster clean-up operation,” said Murodjon Muhiddinov.
According to official reports, in the Khatlon region in Southern Tajikistan, there are more than 400 high-risk zones where the chances of mudflows and landslides during heavy rains are high.
“Authorities Claim That the Houses Are Safe for Now”
Meanwhile, Vahdat district residents affected by mudflow blame the local businessman for this.
Bibigul Salimova, resident of Galaba area of the Vahdat district, said that on 6 AM on May 14, after the water level in the Kofarnihon river rose, the mudflow destroyed her house.
“We lived here for eight years. My husband worked in Russia for a long time and spent the earned money on house improvement. I did not even allow children to enter new rooms so that they would not accidentally damage the walls,” Salimova said.
According to her, their family lost four rooms, a kitchen, a bathhouse, all the clothes and household items because of the mudflow.
“I have three children; I do not know where to go. Wherever we go, we are not welcome because everyone is scared of the coronavirus,” says Salimova.
“How can anyone sleep there? I do not know where to go on these rainy days. I sent my children to different places, my husband is in Russia,” complains Salimova.
According to her, after the disaster, the family received 3 kilograms of potatoes, 4 kilograms of onions, 4 kilograms of carrots, oil, 6 rolls of toilet paper, 1 jar of dishwashing liquid, 3 mattresses, 2 pillows and 2 blankets. However, Salimova does not know who assisted them.
According to Surayo, another resident of the affected district, neighbours called on the Chairman of the district and his deputies to arrive to the flooded area.
“The mayor of the city personally saw how water destroys houses. He personally told people to run and save their lives,” Surayo told CABAR.asia.
She lives in this district for 15 years, but witnessed such a natural disaster for the first time. “On a backyard we had a garden with a lot of fruit trees. Water washed away one 10-meter room, three small rooms, a front yard and a kitchen,” Surayo said.
District residents link the river water level increase with the activities of the newly built tomato-processing workshop. According to them, several years ago, an entrepreneur built an enterprise in the lower part of the mahalla and, in order to change the riverbed, put several large containers with stones into the river.
Mahalla residents say they plan to file a complaint soon against the businessman to the prosecutor’s office in Vahdat. They ask the authorities to relocate them to safer areas and provide them with clothing and food as soon as possible.
Another resident Dilbar Zainiddinova says people are afraid to stay in their homes. “We addressed the local authorities about ten times, but it had no impact. The only thing that they told us then was “your houses are safe for now,” Zainiddinova says.
This article was prepared as part of the Giving Voice, Driving Change – from the Borderland to the Steppes Project.