KATHMANDU, April 25: The government formally started reconstructing houses for the earthquake victims on Sunday, which coincides with the first anniversary of the earthquake.
President Bidya Devi Bhandari and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli laid foundation stones for two private houses, one each in Gorkha and Sindhupalchowk districts, and formally inaugurated the task of reconstructing houses that were completely destroyed in the earthquakes, Sunday.
President Bhandari laid the foundation stone for the house of quake victim Gopal BK in Barpak of Gorkha while Prime Minister Oli laid the foundation stone for the house of quake victim Sarwe Tamang in Chautara, Sindhupalchowk.
After the foundation stone-laying function, the prime minister took part in the grants signing function. Amid his presence, Yadu Maya Ghorasaini signed grant agreement with the local officials.
Similarly, the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) informed that rebuilding of private houses of as many as 10 quake victims in Ramechhap district also started Sunday following the signing of grant agreements. The government provides Rs 200,000 in grant per household.
From Sunday, NRA also expanded the process of signing the grants agreement with quake victims in additional 25 VDCs in the 11 quake-hit areas, informed NRA's spokesman Ram Thapaliya. With this, the total number of VDCs that started signing grants agreements with the victims has reached 35.
As many as 300,961 quake victims in the 11 quake-hit districts have been found eligible for the government grants for reconstructing their damaged houses, according to the damage assessment survey carried out by Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) for the NRA.
The highest number of quake victims eligible for government grants are in Dolaka where there are 49,751 victims followed by Kavrepalanchowk (40,264 victims), Nuwakot (38,235 victims), and Sindhupalchowk (35,308).
Of the Rs 200,000 grants, Rs 50,000 will be provided in first installment, Rs 80,000 in the second and Rs 70,000 in the last installment. Though the NRA has started the process of signing the grants agreements, it has yet to hand over the first installment of Rs 50,000 to the victims in most of the VDCs citing limited number of branches of government-owned banks.
Most of the quake victims are from far-flung villages but there are only 38 branches of the three different government-owned banks -- Rastriya Banijya Bank, Agricultural Development Bank Limited and Nepal Bank Limited -- and most of them are located in the district headquarters and in towns in the districts.
"Lack of sufficent number of branches has become a major challenge. We are trying our best to find alternatives to make the grants distribution more convinient," said NRA acting secretary Madhusudan Adhikari.
Similarly, on Sunday, the NRA also made public the lists of names of quake victims eligible for grants in 383 VDCs in the 11 quake-hit districts, paving the way for starting the process of signing the grants agreements.
With the publication of the lists, the victims have been given two weeks for arranging necessary documents such as citizenship and land ownership certificates, for receiving the grants.
"The task of constructing private houses has now begun," said NRA Spokesperson Thapaliya.
Similarly, on the anniversary of the earthquake which killed around 9,000 people and thousands other injured, Prime Minister Oli and deputy prime ministers, ministers, NRA officials including Chief Executive Officer Sushil Gyewali, Chief Secretary Som Lal Subedi, top government officials and diplomats reached the site of the Dharahara tower in the capital and paid tributes to the victims who lost their life in the earthquake. A magnitude 7.8 earthquake on April 25 last year followed by numerous aftershocks had badly shaken the country.