KATHMANDU, July 18: The Development Committee of parliament has directed the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, other ministries concerned and the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) to conclude post-quake reconstruction within the ongoing fiscal year.
The committee's direction follows the lawmakers' disgruntlement with the snail- paced reconstruction and rehabilitation of quake-affected private houses, public buildings, heritages and other monuments even after two years and three months of the April 25, 2015 earthquake.
“The committee directs OPMCM, other ministries concerned and the NRA to expedite reconstruction works on a war footing and complete it within this fiscal year,” reads the direction of the committee. The parliamentary panel has issued a 13-point direction to the NRA and other government authorities concerned, asking them to expedite the reconstruction works and ease the process of releasing the reconstruction grant.
Most lawmakers speaking at the Development Committee meeting expressed displeasure over the NRA's snail-paced reconstruction activities and bureaucratic hurdles.
Chairman of the committee, Rabindra Adhikari accused the NRA of making reconstruction progress only on paper not in the quake-affected settlements and villages.
Nepali Congress Chief Whip Chinkaji Shrestha said that it has become difficult for the lawmakers to face the locals in their constituencies due to the delay in the reconstruction process. Mohan Bahadur Basnet of the same party demanded immediate release of all reconstruction grants to the victims to build quake-resilient buildings. He accused NRA technicians of not cooperating with the people for the release of the final tranche of the reconstruction grant.
Guru Burlakoti of CPN-UML said the recently-elected local governments should be entrusted with the authority of reconstructing private houses. Janardan Dhakal of the party blamed NRA for not starting relocation of settlements even after the onset of the third monsoon since the quake.
Responding to the lawmakers' queries, NRA CEO Govinda Raj Pokharel assured the lawmakers of completing the reconstruction of private and public buildings within the given deadline. Urging the lawmakers to revise 'complicated policies', Pokharel said that 150,000 quake victims would be shifted to their new houses by the upcoming Dashain festival. He also urged the lawmakers to lead reconstruction activities in their respective local areas.
According to the NRA, only 2,734 of the 557,577 quake-affected individuals have received the third reconstruction tranche and 55,055 have received only the first and second tranche so far. The Development Committee has also directed the government to conclude the skill development training for masons and reconstruction of a model house in each ward within three months. Likewise, it directed the finance ministry and NRA to revise the grant allocation policy in favor of the victims.
The House panel also directed the NRA to furnish a work plan for retrofitting the quake-creviced parliament building and the building of the Prime Minister's Office to the committee within seven days.