Quake victims demand inclusion of genuine victims for grants

Published On: December 3, 2016 01:00 AM NPT By: Sangeet Sangroula  | @SangeetJourno

-Only 57 percent victims sign agreement due to obstruction so far 
-NRA shows indifference about the problem 

KATHMANDU, Dec 3: Earthquake victims eligible for housing grants themselves have halted the grant signing agreement process in many places of the Kathmandu Valley, demanding that other genuine victims left out in the list also be provided the grant amount.

Many locals whose houses were damaged by the devastating earthquakes of last year have been left out from the list of people eligible for the government grants. 

With the obstruction, local authorities have not been able to carry out grant signing agreement with the victims, further delaying the already delayed grant distribution process in the Valley. As a result, the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) has missed the self set deadline of November 30 to complete the task of signing agreement. 

In Godawari Municipality of Lalitpur district, the local authority has been able to sign grant agreement with only 61 quake victims out of the total 3038 eligible victims even after over a month of beginning the grant agreement signing task due to the obstructions from the eligible victims themselves. 

A survey team deployed by NRA had identified 4,233 damaged houses in Godawari Municipality but only 3,038 houses were finalized as eligible for the grants.“But the eligible victims have denied signing grant agreement and obstructed the task saying that over 1,000 victims whose houses were as much damaged as theirs have been left out from the list," Rom Bahadur Mahat, chief of Godawari Municipality told Republica, adding, “They have said that they will not allow the grant agreement process to happen if they are not included.” 

Mahat said that clashes had almost erupted when the eligible victims tried to obstruct the agreement process in the municipality weeks ago. “The victims have formed a struggle committee to press the government to address their demands. We are trying to resume the grant signing agreement task from Sunday. Let's see if we will be able to do so," he added. 

Similarly, Rameshwor Maratha, chief of Lalitpur District Technical Committee, also informed that the grant signing agreement has been obstructed in many other villages in Lalitpur district by the eligible earthquake victims.   

According to him, the process of signing grant agreement has been halted in Pyutar, Gotikhel, Chandanpur, Chaughari, among other villages in Lalitpur. “

"As eligible victims are not coming for signing grant agreement, the local authorities have become helpless,” he added. 

Maratha said that the locals have been saying that the survey carried by NRA to identify eligible victims was faulty, preventing many eligible victims from getting the grant amount. "I have to admit that some house owners whose houses were completely damaged by the earthquakes have been really left out from the eligible list. And such incidents have only enraged the locals," he added.      

 Ganesh Awasthi, chief of the Implementation Division of the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development, who oversees the reconstruction works on behalf of NRA, said that the locals in some areas of Nagarkot Municipality of Bhaktapur district have also not been able to sign grant agreement saying that many eligible victims have been left out from the eligible list. 

In Sankhu of Kathmandu district, locals had earlier obstructed the process of grant signing agreement for over two weeks showing similar reason. However, it has resumed there.

Due to the obstruction from locals in many places, the local authorities have been able to sign grant agreement with only 57 percent of the total 94,072 victims identified as eligible for the grant amount in the Valley. 

But when asked what NRA has done to resolve the issue and expedite the task, Ram Prasad Thapaliya, spokesperson of NRA, said that the authority was unaware about the problem so far. "We have not received any official information from the local development ministry about the problem," he quipped.

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