July 19, 2017 02:15 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, July 18: The reconstruction of one-third of earthquake destroyed schools will be halted after a year due to financial crunch.
A total of 8,411 schools were completely damaged in more than two dozen districts in the earthquakes of April 2015. The government started reconstruction of the schools only a year after the earthquakes aiming to complete the work within three years.
However, reconstruction of a third of the damaged schools will be halted after a year, said the officials at the Ministry of Education (MoE). At least 2,800 schools should have been rebuilt in one year.
"We rebuilt 2,455 schools in different districts in the first year (the last fiscal year)," said Ima Narayan Shrestha, chief of the Project Implementing Directorate under the MoE. "We have to complete reconstruction of at least 3,000 schools in the current fiscal year," he added. "But we have faced gap of funds between the estimated cost and collected funds."
The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) estimated that Rs 167 billion will be needed to reconstruct the quake damaged schools. Donors have pledged to provide Rs 70 billion for the work and have already provided Rs 40 billion.
If the government reconstructs the schools, the cost will be reduced by 30 to 35 percent, according to the MoE. When donors reconstruct the schools, they will have to add management costs including overhead and VAT charges.
Shrestha further said that they have yet arrange Rs 100 billion for the school reconstruction work. "We have asked the NRA and the Ministry of Finance to release Rs 10 billion immediately. If the donors provide the remaining Rs 30 billion that they have pledged, the reconstruction work will not be hampered this year," he said.
A meeting of the parliament's Development Committee on Tuesday directed the NRA and the Ministry of Finance to allocate required budget immediately for the reconstruction of schools, said Dr Hari Prasad Lamsal, spokesman for the MoE.
The NRA is facing funds crunch for the post earthquake reconstruction work. The NRA estimated that Rs 900 billion including Rs 400 billion pledged by donors and Rs 1 billion from the private sector will be needed for completing the reconstruction work. However, the NRA has yet to arrange Rs 400 billion for reconstruction work.