NRA yet to be formally informed about the recent grant hike decision
KATHMANDU, Feb 8: Three weeks after the expiry of the deadline for the earthquake victims to receive the reconstruction grant, the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) is all set to extend the deadline for receiving the second tranche of the grant on Friday by three to six months.
The deadline for the quake victims to receive the second tranche expired three weeks ago, depriving almost 70 per cent of the eligible victims of the reconstruction grant. Despite repeated requests by the NRA to the prime minister to convene the NRA steering committee's meeting, the prime minister had not done so citing his busy schedule. As a result, the second tranche distribution had come to a complete halt for the past three weeks across all the 31 quake-affected districts.
According to an NRA official, NRA's steering committee led by the prime minister will finally convene a meeting on Friday at Baluwatar and extend the deadline for the quake victims to receive the second installment of Rs 150,000 by at least three to six months. Only the prime minister-led committee can extend the deadline.
“Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has finally given time for the steering committee's meeting. The agenda for the meeting has been finalized. The NRA will propose extending the deadline for the victims to receive the second tranche by three to six months. Based on the proposal, a decision will be made,” the official said.
By the deadline of January 13, only 231,319 of the total 669,542 victims receiving the first tranche could manage to receive the second tranche, which only accounts for around 30 per cent of the total victims. Those missing the deadline had been arguing that due to various reasons including lack of construction workers, construction materials and technical manpower to oversee reconstruction and issue recommendation for the second tranche on time, they could not manage to apply for the second tranche before the deadline and that the NRA should give them a second chance or they cannot reconstruct their damaged houses. Due to delay on the part of the prime minister to agree for the steering committee meeting, the second tranche distribution had come to a complete halt for the last three weeks.
When asked if the upcoming steering committee meeting will take any decision with regards to implementing the government's recent decision to provide an additional grant of Rs 100,000 to each victim, the official said it is unlikely since the NRA has not been formally informed about the decision yet.
On January 24, the government had decided to increase the housing reconstruction grant to be provided to earthquake victims to Rs 400,000 from Rs 300,000.
“But we have not been officially informed about the decision yet. Plus, we do not know if the government will send the cabinet decision about the grant hike any time soon,” the official said.
At a press conference organized on Thursday, NRA Chief Executive Officer Yuba Raj Bhusal said that the cabinet had taken the decision unilaterally, without any consultation with NRA and that it was not possible to implement the new decision in the current fiscal year.