KATHMANDU: The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) is marking its fourth anniversary tomoorrow. It is said the Authority set up after the April 2015 Gorkha Earthquake has completed 83 percent of the reconstruction works related to the private houses and other sectors, and the remaining work is ongoing in an expeditious manner.
The reconstruction carried out with national and international support has also contributed to the economic growth as well through huge job creation and economic mobilization.
This campaign of reconstruction has proved to be of special experience for the nation in view of the construction of houses and structures that are strong and suitable considering the risk that Nepal is in terms of disaster. Likewise, the rebuilding campaign has given experience towards promoting safe settlements and civilized human society by formulating policy and plans reinforcing the economic prosperity.
In an interview given to Rastriya Samachar Samiti (RSS)’ Prakash Silwal and Ramesh Lamsal in the context of the NRA’s fourth anniversary, NRA chief executive officer Sushil Gyewali said they are excited with the progress achieved of late in the reconstruction sector, claiming that the reconstruction has reached more than 80 percent when seen on an average basis. He said that the progress should be seen in thematic basis rather than on average.
CEO Gyewali pointed out that the aspects of social and economic life of the people should also be looked at when talking about reconstruction. Sixty two percent of the beneficiaries have rebuilt their houses and shifted in their rebuild homes, out of the 800 thousand private homes that needed to be rebuilt after the earthquake. This means that houses to the tune of 86 percent are at the stage of completing reconstruction and the NRA has the responsibility of ensuring that the remaining 14 percent are rebuilt.
Gyewali added that 71 percent of the reconstruction of 553 damaged school buildings has been completed and currently 20 percent reconstruction work was underway while 9 percent work is in starting phase. Towards reconstruction of health facilities, he said 56 percent of the 1,192 health structures that needed to be reconstructed have been completed while works were in progress on 12 percent. The remaining work is also in the phase of initiation.
Similarly, out of the 891 heritages that needed to be rebuilt, 43 percent have been reconstructed while work is in progress regarding the remaining 14 percent. According to him, overall the reconstruction work has reached the final phase.
Asked about the preparations regarding completing the remaining reconstruction works, the NRA CEO asserted that they have devised various strategies to do that. The NRA plans to remove the fake beneficiaries from the list of beneficiaries and get the grant provided for reconstruction of their houses refunded while providing special assistance to the genuine beneficiaries who have not been able to rebuild their homes due to their poor economic condition. Similarly, the NRA has decided to mobilize mobile masons. Gyewali said that these mobile masons would be mobilized in all the 31 earthquake-hit districts. The masons would be mobilized especially in places where the reconstruction has not picked up pace.
He informed that currently around 630 thousand human resources were mobilized for the reconstruction works and most of them are the residents of the rural areas. This means that not only houses are reconstructed but the people working in the reconstruction are also making economic income which has also supported the mobilization of the national economy.
To a question regarding the delay in settling around 110,000 complaints related to reconstruction lodged with NRA, CEO Gyewali said they actually received 189,000 complaints which was much higher than their expectation. He asserted that the NRA would gradually settle these complaints.
He acknowledged that the reconstruction works have progressed more in the rural areas than in the urban ones including in Kathmandu. He reasoned many factors for this, for example, the multiple ownership of house in the urban areas. Giving the latest figures, he said that more than 40 percent of private houses have been reconstructed in Kathmandu.
CEO Gyewali said that the NRA has eased many procedural complexities related to the sanctioning of the house reconstruction grants and subsidies by developing specific guidelines and devolving some rights and authority to the local governments.
He also asserted that the NRA was conducting regular monitoring of the reconstruction works as well as the works of its engineers and human resources.
When asked about a delay in the reconstruction of UNESCO World Heritage Site listed heritages especially at a time when the Visit Nepal Year, 2020 is around the corner, he denied the allegation. The reconstructions of cultural heritages in the Kathmandu Metropolitan City has taken a pace lately. The reconstruction took 51 percent progress in the quake-hit 14 districts. A six-year plan has been made to reconstruct heritage sites. So the reconstructs in haste would only lead to regret. The reconstructions would take a pace now.
Regarding the impacts of the reconstructions on country’s economy, CEO Gyewali said the impact has been excellent. The post-quake reconstructions have contributed 4.5 percent to the Gross Domestic Product, according to a preliminary study carried out by an independent institution. This is an encouragement. Housing grants have been released to the affected people. Around 600,000 people are engaged in the reconstructions at present. Reconstruction materials like sands and pebbles, wood, cement, iron rods and tin sheets produced locally have been used. Of 800,000 houses damaged in the quake, approximately 86 percent reconstructions have been completed. The budget released for the reconstructions has made economy dynamic.
With regard to a need raised in political sector for a permanent national development authority, he said such an authority is needed. The country is at risk of natural disasters like landslides or flooding due to our topography. Such a powerful sector is needed for preparedness and rehabilitation, reconstruction and relief distribution efforts.
Disaster Management Authority has been formed following the passing of the Disaster Management Act. Its executive chief has been appointed. “Preparations are underway to hand our experiences and skills to the Authority for an institutional archive. We will coordinate with the local level in this regard.”
What NRA would extend its tenure or hand over the responsibility to complete its remaining reconstruction works to the government if it fails to complete the reconstructions when it remains one year to complete its contract?
Financial management aspect will play a significant role in whether NRA’s term would be extended or not. This issue would be settled soon following a discussion.
Regarding shortcomings and challenges encountered during the reconstructions, he said the journey encountered some challenges. The main challenge was budget. Lack of budget caused a reconstruction delay. Adjustment of civil servants and political instability also created a problem.
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