KATHMANDU, August 19: The government has decided to provide Rs 70 a day to each individual affected by the recent flooding and landslides for a period of one month starting today, Friday.
Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) took the decision on Friday, stating that the goods provided by government authorities may not be meeting the actual needs of the victims.
Organizing a press conference at his office, Home Minister Janardan Sharma said the Home Ministry took the decision to provide the cash aid to victims as this would allow them to buy the items they actually need.
“We do not know what exactly the victim families need. The relief materials we have been providing may not have been appropriate. If we provide them cash instead, they can use it to buy whatever they need,” said Sharma in justification of the ministry’s decision. The government has released Rs 1 billion as assistance to the victims.
According to the Home Ministry, altogether 135 people have lost their lives in the flooding and landslides, while 30 others are missing. Over six million people are said to have been affected, mainly in the southern parts of the country.
Home Minister Sharma said the cash grants will be provided only for a month. Officials expect that as the water level has already receded in most of the flooded areas the victims will be able to rehabilitate themselves within a month.
Sharma said Nepal Food Corporation shall set up low-price shopping outlets for essential items in places where there is no market nearby.
Earlier, the government announced that it was to provide Rs 200,000 each in compensation to the families of those killed in the flooding and landslides. The cabinet meeting on August 13 also decided to provide appropriate compensation for property losses after making a detailed study.
Addressing the press meet, Home Minister Sharma clarified that the government has not restricted individuals or organizations from donating relief materials to the flood and landslide-affected. He urged all concerned to distribute relief items in coordination with the government agencies concerned.
Sharma asked donors and individuals wanting to help to do so through the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.
“We have seen how other people took advantage in the past in the name of disaster victims. So, we have asked all individuals and organizations to provide relief materials only in coordination with the local government agencies so that the latter can keep records,” he said. “We have never said do not give relief materials to flood victims.”
SC’s order against one-window relief distribution
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has issued an interim order against the government’s decision to distribute relief materials through a one-window setup.
Responding to a writ petition filed by advocate Sunil Ranjan Singh against the government’s one-window distribution policy, a single bench of Justice Om Prakash Mishra issued an order not to implement any such decision.
The apex court has also asked the government to make necessary arrangements to provide immediate relief and medical treatment for the flood victims.
Citing fears about duplication in the distribution of relief materials, the Central Disaster Relief Committee had earlier decided to make necessary arrangements to distribute relief materials in coordination with local government bodies in the affected districts.