The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) has apparently not included houses that were damaged during the earthquakes of last year but are still standing.
There is no option but to demolish the houses that have cracked in the quake-hit villages. However, the beneficiary survey commissioned by NRA has left out such houses from the grant assistance list because they are still upright. What needs to be noted is that the houses are uninhabitable.
Parliamentarian Guru Burlakoti, who represents quake-hit Dhading district, brought this issue to the notice of NRA Chief Executive Officer Sushil Gyewali at a meeting of the Development Committee of the Legislature-Parliament, today. Burlakoti mentioned that he has been receiving numerous complaints regarding this issue.
It is not only Burlakoti but other parliamentarians too from the 11 severely hit districts, where the NRA concluded the beneficiary survey, who raised a similar voice. They stated that the current database of the beneficiary survey is incomplete because it has not included houses which are upright but uninhabitable.
NRA recently finalised the list of 300,961 beneficiaries in the 11 quake-affected districts and forwarded it to the District Development Committee Offices of the respective districts. Based on the beneficiaries list, the Village Development Committee (VDC) offices and municipality offices are responsible for signing the grant agreement with house owners and banks and financial institutions to activate the bank accounts and release the grant amount. Till date, grant agreements have been signed with 47,925 beneficiaries.
NRA started grant distribution from Singati of Dolakha district from mid-March, however, grant amount has been transferred to the bank accounts of only 1,000 beneficiaries till date.
Lawmakers today urged the NRA to conduct a survey again in the 11 districts and include all those who have been affected without any partiality. “The victims who have been left out should be included in the beneficiaries list at the earliest,” said lawmaker Ramesh Kumar Lama from Sindhupalchowk district.
As per Gyewali, NRA has also received numerous complaints about victims being left out during beneficiary survey. He mentioned that NRA has formed a team of 11 engineers to verify the database and photos of affected houses that are available at the Management Information System in a bid to include all the affected people.
The recently launched Post-Disaster Recovery Framework (PDRF) has mentioned that over 500,000 houses were completely destroyed in the 14 quake-hit districts (including Kathmandu Valley).
NRA has released Rs 12.45 billion to Central Project Implementation Unit under the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development (MoFALD) to disburse Rs 50,000 or the first instalment of grant amount. Each household will receive Rs 200,000. It has planned to disburse 25 per cent of the grant in the beginning and the remaining tranches in instalments of 30 per cent, 35 per cent and 10 per cent at different stages of house construction.
More importantly, MoFALD has yet to appoint secretaries to 46 VDCs in the quake-hit districts even though the Parliamentary Panel has already instructed the ministry to do so. In addition, 426 engineers have also declined to go to the VDCs and municipalities of the quake-hit districts and only 928 engineers have been mobilised to the affected districts, informed Shiva Hari Sharma, joint secretary of the Ministry of Urban Development. “The Ministry of Urban Development is preparing to recruit more engineers.”
Lawmakers also expressed dissatisfaction at the slow pace in which reconstruction activities were taking place. Reconstruction of 5,000 schools that were damaged during the earthquakes are yet to begin and students have been compelled to study in transitional schools.
The Parliamentary Panel has instructed NRA to include all the affected households that were left out in the beneficiary survey and initiate the process of signing grant agreements with them as soon as possible. It has also directed the concerned government agencies to recruit VDC secretaries at the earliest.
Furthermore, panel has sought recruitment and mobilisation of appropriate number of engineers in quake-hit districts to establish safer and integrated settlements. It has also urged concerned authorities to take the initiative to develop required skilled human resources for construction and ensure adequate supply of construction materials in all quake-affected areas.