Earthquake victims receving reconstruction grant in Okhaldhunga district.
OKHALDHUNGA, Aug 3: The house of Lal Prasad Ghimire of Khijitaki village of Khijidemba Rural Municipality–4, Okhaldhunga suffered huge damage in the devastating 2015 earthquake. Although the house was inhabitable, his name was not included in the list of eligible housing grant recipients in the first survey conducted by the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA). In the last four years, he complained about it on several occasions with the local authorities. He did not know whether his name was included on the list.
But a few months ago, the government announced that it was conducting earthquake damage survey for the last time and Ghimire had his damaged house examined by NRA technicians.
After failing to receive housing grant and living in makeshift hut for a long time, he recently built a small house on his own.
But interestingly, according to the records at the Okhaldhunga district office of grant management and local infrastructure of the NRA's District Project Implementation Unit, Ghimire's name is in the list of grant recipients who have not signed housing grant agreement.
Ghimire was never informed by the local authorities about this "due to lack of coordination between the NRA and the local bodies.
Just like Ghimire, Sabin Bhattarai, Muna Bhujel and Phulman Tamang of Khijitaki village whose houses were fully damaged in the earthquake, also did not know that their names were on the list of those eligible for housing grant.
"Thinking that I was not on the list, I put in all my efforts just to include my name on the list. I met ward members on several occasions. I just learnt that my name was already on the list but they did not notify me," he laments.
Since they did not know did not know they were eligible, they did not visit NRA's Okhaldhunga office to sign the agreement. The office also did not bother to notify the subordinate units about the inclusion of their names.
According to Dev Krishna Khakda, a technician deployed in the district by the NRA, the victims' problem is genuine. It was Khadka who, during a visit to the NRA's district office a few weeks ago, found out that all four were eligible for the housing grant. "They had met me several times regarding the issue. After I came to the NRA's Okhaldhunga office and went through the list, I found that they were eligible for housing grant," he remarked.
Khadka said a lack of coordination between the NRA and the local units might be responsible for the problem.
Meanwhile, the NRA Okhaldhunga office claimed that it had sent emails to the ward offices time and again regarding the matter. But the offices did not send the beneficiaries for the agreement.
"They say they sent emails, but here the internet connection is not good. I am not aware of any emails from the NRA," said Bed Bahadur Rokaya, chairman of Khijidemba Rural Municipality – 4. "They should have given the information through letter or phone instead of sending emails."
Meanwhile, the NRA district office said a total of 785 quake victims who were eligible for housing grant did not sign the grant agreement. The deadline for signing grant agreement was July 6.