KATHMANDU, Aug 31: Member of Parliaments (MPs) have asked the government to set up a "material bank" so that the task of reconstruction of thousands of houses that were damaged by devastating earthquakes last year wouldn't be hampered due to various problems such as black marketing, price hike and shortage of essential construction materials in the market.
They have suggested that the material bank should store cement, rods, rocks, gravel, sand and other construction materials and should be managed by a government body.
"The monsoon is about to end soon and the people who got the first tranche of housing grant will start building their homes very soon," said Rabindra Adhikari, chairman of Parliament's Development Committee on Tuesday, addressing the committee meeting attended by lawmakers and senior government officials. "There are high chances of traders promoting black marketing, price hike and creating artificial shortage of essential construction materials in the market.
So it is very necessary to provide construction materials at normal prices and in sufficient quantities just as during the normal situation."
The lawmakers argued that the establishment of material bank becomes necessary because the market may face material crunch when thousands of earthquake victims start building their houses at the same time.
Once the victims get the money, their next step would be to build their homes, said the lawmakers.
The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) has identified 500,000 houses that had been damaged by earthquakes in 11-most affected districts and has distributed the first tranche of house reconstruction grant to 200,472 people so far.
He proposed a system in which such banks can buy construction materials in huge quantities and control the market by providing those materials at their normal prices.
"The banks should be responsible for buying those construction materials from the market and selling to earthquake victims directly," he added.
He also said that the Gujarat state of India, which was shaken by devastating earthquake in 2001, had also faced similar situation during the time of reconstruction. They had established a material bank for supplying construction materials to the affected people.
"During our visit to Gujarat, we found that they had established material bank to protect quake-affected people from the black market and price hike," he said. The development committee members had visited Gujarat in July, 2016.
Lawmaker Baijanath Chaudhary also said that the government by supplying the essential construction materials can support earthquake victims in their efforts of rebuilding their houses.
"To ensure availability of construction materials for all people, the government must store such materials in huge quantities," he said.
Other lawmakers reminded the government about the need to train manpower for construction works. "If we go to the earthquake-affected districts, we find that there is a huge crisis of skilled manpower," said lawmaker Ganesh Pahadi.
"We have to build strong buildings and the government must ensure that adequate manpower is available for the purpose."
Responding to the suggestions from the lawmakers, Chief Executive Officer of National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) Sushil Gyewali said that the authority has been working to ensure that there will be no shortage of necessary construction materials in the market when reconstruction works in the earthquake-affected districts get into full swing.
"We have been holding discussions with the concerned ministries about the possible challenges that may arise in the supply of such materials. We have so far trained 8,000 individuals for construction works," Gyewali said. "We are planning to carry out more such trainings."
He also assured the lawmakers of taking initiatives for establishing a material bank.