KATHMANDU, April 2: Almost two years have elapsed since the devastating earthquake of April 25, 2015 occurred but not even a single monastery damaged by the quake has been rebuild so far thanks to the sluggish post-earthquake reconstruction work of the government and bickering over reconstruction leadership.
According to the Buddhist Philosophy Promotion and Monastery Development Committee (BPPDC) under the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development (MoFALD), the number of monasteries damaged by the earthquake stands at 1,400.
Out of the 31 quake-affected districts, Sindhupalchowk had the highest number of monasteries destroyed. Two hundred and fifteen monasteries were flattened by earthquake in the district followed by 95 in Nuwakot, 80 in Makwanpur, 79 in Gorkha, 81 in Kavrepalanchowk, 68 in Dhading and 63 in Ramechhap. Likewise, 49 in Solukhumbu, 45 in Rasuwa and 39 in Sindhuli crumbled to the ground. There were also reports of monasteries demolished in Lamjung, Tanahun, Nawalparasi, Kaski, Baglung, Khotang, Bhojpur, Dhankuta among other places.
As informed by the BPPDC, Rs 410 million was distributed as the first installment in various quake affected districts for the construction of monasteries last month on March 3. Though more than 1300 monasteries submitted application for reconstruction, only 993 of them received the installment as some of them were not registered and lacked sufficient documents, according to the committee.
Executive Director of BPPDC Narendra Kumar Gurung said, “We are planning to clear the second installment before the end of this fiscal year. But if the government doesn't offer it on time, we might be in a serious trouble. The government has allocated budget only for the 31 most-affected districts but the number of damage is no less in other districts as well. So, it would be better if our regular budget is also increased.”
The loss of monasteries has rendered a large number of monks homeless. They have been compelled to live miserable life in tents in lack of shelter. Some of them have even migrated to the monasteries in Kathmandu. Destruction of monasteries and other heritage sites in tourist destinations like Solukhumbu, Manang , Gorkha, Khotang among others have been a great setback for tourism in Nepal.
“Though there has not been any sharp fall in the number of tourists, the damage of these historic sites has definitely reduced their stay in Nepal,” claims Mani Raj Gurung, under-secretary of BPPDC.
As per the new design, BPPDC has instructed its engineers to built earthquake-resistant monasteries. “At first, there was delay in budget allocation and now lack of sufficient engineers in the remote districts have been another problem,” said under-secretary Gurung. According to him, there are very few engineers in the remote areas and most of them have no idea about the construction and design of monasteries. It has further delayed the reconstruction process.