After the establishment of Ani town during the reign of King Raghuvir Singh, ominous clouds of crisis have settled over the once flourishing settlement. On one hand, the town is struggling to cope with calamities like landslides caused by torrential rains, while on the other hand, the newly constructed houses are now under threat, leaving residents in distress. Many individuals have invested their life savings into building houses, and in the face of disaster, these properties are crumbling like a house of cards. Over the past two decades, Ani has witnessed the construction of hundreds of houses. Being the central hub of the region, everyone aspired to reside here. However, the recent incidents have raised concerns about the safety of these hastily constructed structures.
A significant number of houses in Ani were built without proper planning, land inspection, structural design, drainage, or retaining walls. Several homes are now inundated with water from all directions. Efforts were made by the local administration to control such hazardous constructions by forming a committee of experts to ensure that buildings adhere to the Town and Country Planning (TCP) guidelines. Unfortunately, this committee was subsequently disbanded, casting a shadow over the planned development. Most of the houses in the area are more than four stories high.
The prevailing concern among the residents is now the applicability of TCP guidelines in rural areas. It is being suggested that these guidelines should be extended to villages as well, as the need for structured urban planning extends beyond towns. Moreover, the unsafe construction activities in Ani have been largely carried out by unskilled laborers. This raises questions about the structural integrity of these houses built by inexperienced individuals.
Eight houses have experienced severe damage due to landslides, while two have incurred substantial losses. Additionally, nearly two dozen houses have been declared as danger zones. The incident has devastated a significant part of the market area expansion and marred the grandeur of Ani’s reputation. The once-thriving new bus stand area expansion and the court road area are no longer safe. Previous incidents of erosion around the Dehuri khad and Bhairad Nala have already inflicted heavy losses on the houses nearby.
The aftermath of the calamity in Ani has prompted discussions about finding sustainable solutions to prevent future disasters. The administration faces the challenge of rectifying these disastrous outcomes, and the hasty construction and encroachment play a significant role. Many houses lack proper drainage systems or roads. The recurring landslides have placed the old hospital building in danger, and the water from the mela maidan has reached Kiran Bazar, further compounding the crisis.
The incident in Ani serves as a reminder that haphazard construction and encroachments are responsible for the situation. While blame lies with the substandard construction and encroachment, the administration’s response and mitigation strategies are equally critical. The incident also raises the need to apply proper urban planning guidelines in rural areas to prevent such disasters in the future.