GORKHA, June 3: Newly-elected representatives of the local units in Gorkha have criticized the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) for the delay in expediting the reconstruction of quake-ravaged houses and infrastructures.
The criticism from representatives comes at a time when post-earthquake reconstruction work was not moving ahead even after two years elapsed since the devastation.
Reconstruction work in Gorkha, the epicenter of the devastating 2015 earthquake, has remained sluggish. Representatives blamed NRA's sluggishness, ineffective guidelines, lack of technical manpower and negligence for the delay in post-disaster reconstruction work.
Mayor of Gorkha Municipality Rajan Raj Pant demanded that the post-disaster recovery programs be handed over to the local bodies. "The villages are geographically remote. Their problems could not be solved through the policies endorsed at the central level," he said at an interaction function on Friday organized by the NRA.
"Local governments can play effective role in solving the problems of the victims. So, the central government should make a policy to allow the local representatives to serve their constituency," Pant said.
Purna Dahal, chairman of Arughat Rural Municipality, said that the government bodies should expedite the distribution of second tranche of Rs 150,000 of the reconstruction grant. He, however, informed that almost 50 percent houses have been already rebuilt.
"Over 50 percent houses have been already rebuilt in the district but most of them have not received the second tranche yet," he said.
The government has been awarding Rs 300,000 as reconstruction grant to the quake survivors. But work on distributing the second and third tranches has been slow. The government had announced to distribute the house reconstruction grant in three phases -- Rs 50,000 in the first, Rs 150,000 in the second and Rs 100,000 in the third.
"Since many victims have already rebuilt their houses and others have alredy started rebuilding, they are worried whether they will receive the full grant promised by the government or not. I suggest to the NRA to expedite the grants distribution work," he said.
Dhan Bahadur Gurung, the chairman of Chumanubri Rural Municipality, a local body located in northern Gorkha, demanded that the NRA make arrangement to distribute the grants in the villages itself.
"It takes between three and five days for the people in remote parts of the district to visit the banks for the grant and the journey is arduous and costly for the victims," said Gurung.
He also said that there are many victims who are deprived of grants due to ineffective work/negligence by the engineers deployed by the NRA.
Sulikot Rural Municipalty Chairman Bishnu Bhatta informed that most of the houses in his area were rebuilt before the NRA guidelines were endorsed. Those who rebuilt on their own must not be deprived of the reconstruction grant, he said.
"Even if the houses do not meet the set criteria, the victims should not be deprived of the grant and other benefits," he said.
Representatives also urged the NRA to expedite reconstruction of quake-destroyed government buildings. "We are elected-representative but we don't have enough buildings to set up our offices. So, the NRA should take the initiative to rebuild government buildings as soon as possible,' Ishwar Pandey, the chairman of Bhimsen Rural Municipality.
The NRA on Friday organized an interaction with the newly-elected representatives and discussed the reconstruction efforts being carried out by the NRA. Two mayors and nine rural municipality chairmen of the district participated in the function, which was also attended by the NRA chief executive officer Govinda Raj Pokharel.