KATHMANDU, April 25: Top officials at the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) have said that bureaucratic red tape has continued to hinder the overall post-earthquake reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts even as the country marks the third anniversary of the devastating earthquake of April 25, 2015 on Wednesday.
Almost 9,000 people lost their lives and over 22,000 were injured in the earthquake which rocked the country three years ago while thousands others were left homeless. It is reported that the quake damaged property worth Rs 706 billion. However, the NRA data shows that only 15 per cent of the reconstruction works have been completed so far.
“We should admit that we could not make satisfactory progress in the post-earthquake reconstruction and rehabilitation works even three years after the disaster,” NRA Secretary Arjun Kumar Karki said on the eve of the third anniversary of the disaster.
He pointed out that reconstruction cannot gather momentum if the existing bureaucratic red tape is not broken. “The reconstruction works need to be carried out through a distinct process if we are to expedite the snail-paced reconstruction works,” he said.
Of the total 767,705 victims whose houses were completely damaged by the earthquake, only 119,182 have been able to reconstruct their houses so far from the housing grant of Rs 300,000 provided to each of the victims by the government. The remaining victims are either yet to begin the reconstruction of their houses or are still reconstructing.
“The government announced to provide the housing grant to the victims who lost their houses in the earthquake. But the distribution of the grant has not been as effective as it should have been,” Karki said.
He said that the NRA is making preparations to amend its working procedure to remove various bureaucratic hurdles that have either slowed or hindered the overall reconstruction efforts. “We are making preparations to give the right of grant distribution to the local bodies instead of distributing the grant through district-level bodies formed by NRA for grant distribution,” he added.
However, he said that the housing grant distribution has gathered pace post local elections. Official data shows that 696,193 of the total 709,180 victims who signed housing grant agreement have already received the first tranche of Rs 50,000 while 329,244 victims have received the second tranche of Rs 150,000. Likewise, 90,059 victims have already received the third tranche of Rs 100,000.
He also said that the NRA will ask the government to ensure that all the line ministries involved in the reconstruction efforts make decisions on any reconstruction project within three days and report to the NRA and pave the way for the reconstruction works. “Due to delay on the part of the ministries to make timely decisions, reconstruction of public buildings, schools and heritage sites could not begin on time, thus delaying reconstruction,” he said.
Of the total 379 public buildings damaged, only six have been reconstructed so far. Likewise, of the total 753 damaged heritage sites and monuments, only 100 have been reconstructed as of now. The reconstruction of major heritage sites like Dharahara, Rani Pokhari and Kastamandap is yet to begin.
NRA chief Yuba Raj Bhusal, however, said that all the reconstruction works will be completed within the next two years. “It is true that the reconstruction works have been delayed badly. But we are working to remove all the administrative hurdles. All the reconstruction works will be completed by the next two years despite the delay,” he added.