August 8, 2018 02:00 AM NPT
National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) is still waiting for a new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) after Oli government fired Yubaraj Bhusal last month. The vital administrative and managerial works of reconstruction body are in limbo. Delays in appointment have cost us dearly. For one, NRA has not been able to hold its executive meeting, stalling crucial decisions needed to be made immediately with regard to reconstruction. And there is a lingering fear that task of reconstruction and rehabilitation will be seriously hampered. This is not what is expected of NRA and the government at the moment. The deadline for the earthquake survivors whose houses were damaged by earthquake to apply for second tranche of housing grant has already expired. The deadline was to be extended by a meeting of NRA’s steering committee on July 8. But the government had fired Bhusal before that. Since then, the post of NRA CEO has remained vacant. New meeting cannot be held without its CEO.
As things stand, thousands of survivors are yet to apply for second tranche of housing grants. Of the total 713,435 survivors receiving first tranche, only 470,460 have managed to apply for the second tranche of Rs 150,000. Remaining 242,975 survivors won't be able to get the second tranche if the deadline is not extended. Delay in CEO appointment could also hinder the process of completing housing grant distribution by the end of the next fiscal year. And without its CEO, NRA literally becomes defunct because the Act Made to Provide for Reconstruction of the Earthquake Affected Structures (2015) clearly states that CEO is the executive chief of the authority and no other official can work on his/her behalf. More importantly, NRA budget for the next fiscal year is yet to be endorsed. The work of enlisting 129,000 left-out victims to enable them to receive the housing grant remains in limbo.
It is hard to believe that the prime minister, who is also the chairperson of NRA, is not aware of the complications it will add to earthquake survivors to complete reconstruction. The government has failed to take quick decision in this regard because there are too many aspirants both from within NRA and outside. This should not be an excuse to making NRA fully functional. Despite all hurdles and the perennial delays in the first two years, reconstruction works were gaining momentum across the country in the recent times. In the earthquake affected districts, many people have already rebuilt their homes and thousands are speeding up the process. Government’s failure to appoint new CEO should not become the cause of delay in reconstruction process. Political parties have made NRA a platform to appoint their loyalists since its formation in 2015. They have changed NRA CEO three times already. Completing the reconstruction and rehabilitation works and shifting the earthquake survivors from makeshift structures to safe houses is still an important national task. Therefore, now is the time to choose a competent, qualified and a nonpartisan person at the top post of reconstruction body.