KATHMANDU, Dec 13: Around 2,300 engineers and other technicians deployed by the government on contract in the 11 earthquake-hit districts for assisting in the houses reconstruction have threatened to resign en masse on December 20 if the government did not address their various demands by December 15.
Since a few days, they have halted work in the districts as part of their symbolic protests and many of them have arrived in the capital to press the government for addressing their demands.
They have been complaining that the government has forced them to work in "poor working condition." The engineers oversee reconstruction of houses constructed by quake victims to ensure that they meet the earthquake-resilient construction guildlines set by the government and make recommendation for the second and third tranches of government grant. If they resign, the government cannot distribute the second tranche to the quake victims as recommendation from the engineers is mandatory for grant distribution.
"We do not have an office even after eight months of deployment to the earthquake-hit districts. Similarly, the government has ignored our demand for remote and encouragement allowances," Kapil Sharma, an engineer and also a coordinator of the 'central protest committee' formed by the engineers and technicians to press their demands, adding, "So, we cannot continue to work under such poor conditions any longer and have decided to resign en masse if things do not improve."
After their protests earlier, the government had agreed to provide the engineers up to 25 percent of their salary as remote allowance and up to 75 percent of their salary as encouragement allowance. But the government has not implemented the agreement.
Similarly, they have also demanded that the government endorse the grant distribution directive in line with line with the announcement made by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal to increase the grant amount from Rs 200,000 to Rs 300,000 as soon as possible.
Sharma said that the locals who have constructed foundations of their houses from the first tranche of Rs 50,000 have been forced to either halt the construction work or seek loans to continue the construction.
According to NRA, over 15,000 of 448,811 victims who have received the first trance have begun house construction in the 11 quake-hit districts.
"Quake victims who have already constructed their houses without government grants are piling pressure on us to pass their building designs so that they become eligible for the grant. But none of such houses meet the construction standard set by the government.
We are facing huge pressure from locals and political parties," Bikash Pokharel, another engineer said. "We are unable handle the pressure and the government is doing nothing to address the issue."