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Sep 20, 2012 at 10:51pm IST

Year after Sikkim earthquake, victims continue to live in trauma

Chungthang: One year on and we go back and find people still battling those scars everyday. Chungthang, one of the worst affected areas during the 2011 Sikkim earthquake looks almost frozen in time.

People here continue to live with the gaping cracks in unsafe buildings ducking death everyday. While some like 56-year-old Paden live cramped with their lives belongings in homes put together with borrowed tins.

One of the quake victims Paden Lepcha said, "We had heard that the govt would demolish the house and build a new one. Nothing has happened. We don't have money to demolish our house or build a new one."

Another victim Passangkit Lepcha said, "If earthquake comes it's better to die in our own house, we are compelled to stay here. We have nowhere to go."

The children of the Everest Academy study under the constant threat of those boulders tumbling down from the hills. Half of the students have left the school out of fear. At Moonlight School classes are held in what used to be a stable - often three at a time.

Fresh, massive landslides are washing away the roads. Tourist destinations like Lachung and Lachen often remain cut off. 28-year-old Sandhya rests her hopes on God to save her from the big chasm towering over her small shop. She says it scares her when it rains.

Their village in Bay was washed away, their family members lost. One year on they still wait for the house on this plot the government had promised them. So what accounts for this extreme delay. The state government says it's the weather and the Centre.

Chief Secretary of Sikkim Karma Gyatso said, "Out of the Rs 1000 crore promised, we have got only Rs 200 crore. I think that speaks a lot."

Even though the government has provided immediate relief the long term relief and rehabilitation plan for thousands of people who were affected continues at a slow pace on the ground, the scars of the earthquake might heal with time but the delay by the administration is a brutal reminder of what changed their lives forever.