Fear of losing grant forces quake victims to build houses in a rush

Published On: May 27, 2018 05:30 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

GORKHA, May 27: The fear of losing the final or the third installment of the reconstruction grant has forced earthquake victims in Gorkha to erect their houses in a rush. Those who were listed as beneficiaries but had not yet started rebuilding their houses have fast been building new houses. 

“They are building house as fast as possible. Many have already received the second installment and are now expecting the third. But if they do not meet the criteria  provisioned by the government, they might lose the money, so they are in a rush now,” said Shiva Poudel, coordinator of the District Project Implementation Grant Management Unit of Gorkha. “Around 75 percent victims have received the second tranche and are ready for the third,” he added. 

He informed Republica that there are 61,316 beneficiaries in Gorkha and 46,200 have received the second installment of the grant. 

According to Sunita Shrestha, Engineer with Urban Development and Building Division Office, some files related to the project are still pending at the office for verification. “We are receiving files in maximum numbers for verification,” she said. 

As the files came all at once, it needs added human resource to verify them, Shrestha stated. “We are doing it anyway, some staffers have been added for this,” she said. 
The division office said that 52,500 houses are under construction in the district. Around 5,000 victims have not yet laid the foundation while 22,000 have almost fixed the ceiling. 

According to Poudel, some have planned to receive all three installments at once after completing the house project. But since the government has urged the victims to receive grants by the end of the month of Asar, now they are in a rush, he noted. “Not all beneficiaries have built their houses at the same pace. Technical difficulties and other reasons have affected reconstruction,” Poudel said, “However, now Asar is the deadline. So, the victims are in a rush to build their houses,” he added. 

These days, the victims are visiting the coordination committee office with documents. They are confused and worried about the deadline, Poudel stated. 

As per the process, they need not come individually. After technicians deployed by the ward or municipality confirm that the structure is quake-resistant, the files are sent to the division office. And the coordination committee verifies or tallies it and then those files are sent further to the office of the District Treasury Comptroller, Poudel informed. 

“Only after that, the grant amount is sent to the bank account of beneficiary. But as the process was delayed for some time and also due to this deadline, victims themselves have started to carry the files with them and come in person to hand it over to us,” Poudel said. 

Meanwhile, accountant at the coordination committee, Dipendra Aryal stated that the victims who took the second installment much earlier might be in financial problem. Also due to that, they might have made the rush, he said. 

“Sometimes there is error in the name or caste of the beneficiary or they lack necessary documents. Some find the process very hard,” he noted. “Some are not here but in foreign land, and sometimes their files get stuck due to several reasons,” he added. 

He admitted that some victims faced problems for long due to the lack of technicians who would certify their structures. Similarly, the lack of construction materials bothered many. 

“The victims had lamented the delay in grant release. If they had received it all at once, may be that would be easier for them, they thought,” he said. 

Chief District Officer of Gorkha, Narayan Bhattarai meanwhile stated that human resources will be deployed in required numbers for the ease of the quake victims. No victim should be deprived of the grant, he said. 

“We are adding staffers, technicians such as computer operators and engineers for structure verification. It’s already been quite late. Now, they need to get the final installment without hassles,” he maintained. 

According to Bhattarai, other issues are going to be addressed in order to support the victims in all possible ways. However, the government is not sure about how to address the issue of the names missing in the list of the victims. “Some quake victims are still not registered, they say. This issue is grave. The reconstruction authority has not said anything about it,” Bhattarai said. 

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