Bill proposes punishment for those misusing relief goods

Published On: September 13, 2017 03:30 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Sept 13: The government has registered the Disaster Management Bill at the parliament secretariat, proposing punishment for those misusing relief goods, hiking the prices of necessary goods, spreading terror, and obstructing relief distribution. 

The bill has proposed two years jail or up to Rs 500,000 penalty or both, if the damage or loss is found to be caused by the negligence of any individual. Likewise, six months jail and Rs 100,000 fine has been proposed against those found to be involved in spreading disaster related rumors, causing panic in the general public. The same punishment has been proposed for those collecting relief goods without the permission of the authority and using it for personal benefit and unnaturally hiking the prices of relief goods. 

The bill has proposed Rs 50,000 fine for those involved in obstructing relief distribution or government officials and misusing the relief materials. 

According to the bill, the government can declare the disaster-affected areas as crisis-hit zone and use the private and public buildings, vehicles and offices for rescue, relief operations and as shelters as well by closing the government or non-government offices, educational and other institutions. 

“The government can acquire private or any other institutions' goods including foods, cloths, medicines or construction materials and distribute among the disaster-affected people,” reads the bill.

The bill has proposed taking a government decision to accept foreign aid in the aftermath of any disaster. “But any foreign institution or individual must take prior consent of the government before entering the disaster affected areas,” reads Section 35 of the bill.
Two years after the 7.8 magnitude earthquake and a month after the floods and inundations in southern tarai areas of the country, the government has registered the bill for managing and controlling natural disasters. The bill has also proposed developing criteria for relief distribution. The criteria should include the kind of relief to be provided such as temporary shelter, food, drinking water etc and compensation to the families of those losing their lives in the disaster through the one-window policy, according to the bill. 

Likewise, the government has proposed awarding individuals and institutions providing special contribution to the disaster management works. 

Backtracking on its previous plan to establish an autonomous authority for disaster management works, the government has proposed a four-tier mechanism for managing and overseeing the disaster related works. 

A Disaster Management Council has been proposed as the top body for making disaster-related national policies and plans and instructing other agencies concerned. The prime minister will head the council which will have other 13 ministers as its members.

Likewise, leader of the main opposition party, chief ministers of all seven provinces will also be the members of the council. 

An executive committee led by the home minister has been envisioned under the council that will suggest policies and plans to the council and execute the endorsed policies. The committee can also instruct the government agencies concerned for including disaster management related subjects in school curriculum. 

Similarly, a disaster risk reduction and management center has been envisioned by the executive committee. A government secretary will be the chief executive officer of the center which will execute decisions and policies of the two overseeing bodies - the council and executive committee. The bill has also proposed provincial, district and local level disaster management committees. Provincial committees will be headed by chief ministers, district committees will be headed by chief district officers and local committees by the chiefs of local units. 

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