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Sluggish reconstruction efforts add to woes of quake survivors

KATHMANDU: It seems that there is complete absence of governance, forget good governance. There is still a short supply of essential fuel including cooking gas even months after the crippling blockade ended while Kathmandu continues to reel under black marketeering.

On the other hand, the government is yet to address the demands of Madhes-based political parties, who are warning to take to the streets sternly to protest some articles of the newly promulgated constitution.
And, worse is the pitiable situation of the April 25 earthquake survivors, who are still forced to live in makeshift tents without any substantial succor provided by government and other concerned authorities.

As the nation will commemorate the first anniversary of the mega quake on Sunday, many quake victims will still be hoping for proper relief and rehabilitation. However, with government help nowhere to be seen, some quake survivors have already started rebuilding their damaged houses.

Impoverished quake victims however have no choice than to continue living in damaged houses marked not-fit-to-live, risking their lives.

The quake killed near 9,000 and injured more than 22,000, damaging around one million houses, while it is estimated that the quake affected 40 percent plus population of Nepal in 39 of the 75 districts.
Although the government and humanitarian organisations promptly launched rescue operation in the wake of the quake, they failed to provide long-term relief and support to the victims on time.

In contrast, reports say that food items like rice donated to the quake victims are rotting in various government godowns due to failure to distribute them. The reports further says that the government was preparing to sell rice meant for the quake victims in the local markets in a bid to deposit money earned from the sale to use in case of a future disaster.

The government argues that there is ‘no demand’ for the rice or additional food from the quake-stricken villages.
Political parties’ focus on promulgating the constitution, Madhes agitation against the constitution and India-imposed blockade that caused an acute shortage of essentials and petroleum products may be some factors behind the delay in the post-quake reconstruction.

But political power sharing that took place from the very beginning following the quake played a major role in the delay. Following the quake, the government led by the late Sushil Koirala had announced to form a National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) that would be authorised for the post-quake reconstruction.
Despite then the coalition partner CPN-UML’s bargain for the coveted post of chief executive officer (CEO) of the proposed NRA, the NC-led government appointed Govinda Raj Pokharel as NRA’s chief around four months after the quake.

Later, the NRA was dissolved after the Reconstruction Bill could not be endorsed on time. After long failed efforts to endorse the bill due to political parties’ bargain for the post, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli-led government appointed Sushil Gyawali as the NRA CEO eight months later notwithstanding NC efforts to continue Pokharel’s post as NRA chief.

Around four months after NRA CEO was appointed, the NRA, as part of the reconstructions, distributed Rs 50,000 in eight VDCs of eight quake-hit districts on April 4 as the first tranche of the total Rs 200,000 the government has announced to provide to each quake family whose house was completed damaged.

The NRA again decided to expand the grant distribution to 11 more quake-stricken districts from Sunday. However, given the sluggish process and chances of fake quake victims availing of the assistance, it is still not sure that the assistance will reach the genuine quake victims before the onset of monsoon. They fear that they may have to brave monsoon for the second time since the disaster struck.

Misfortune has already befallen the quake victims as they have lost their family members, houses and other property to the monstrous quake. Human trafficking carried out taking advantage of the quake has also added to their woes. They cannot be any greater hardship than this. And speedy measures to rehabilitate them before it is too late are the only option left to give them a sense of governance in the country. RSS

Published Date: Saturday, April 23rd, 2016 | 08:57 PM

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