Ministry on why quake grant distribution floundered

Published On: June 29, 2016 12:35 AM NPT By: Sangeet Sangroula  | @SangeetJourno


KATHMANDU, June 29:Due to incompletion of two sets of agreement required between the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) and banks on the one hand and NRA and the victims on the other, hundreds of thousands of earthquake victims are still unable to receive the house reconstruction grant offered by the government even months after signing agreements with the local authorities, the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development has said.

The grant couldn't reach the victims as the NRA chose some VDCs for signing grant agreements with the earthquake victims but it has not yet reached agreement with the banks for distributing grants in those VDCs.

Officials at the ministry said the victims in the areas where the banks are mandated by the NRA to distribute the money haven't received the grants as the NRA hasn't signed grant agreements with the victims.

"A huge amount of money meant for distribution among the earthquake victims hasn't been distributed yet just due to the failure of the NRA to sign the two sets of agreements in tandem," said Prakash Dahal, under-secretary at the ministry. "Only 5,841 victims have so far received the first installment of the grant although at least 171,000 victims have already signed grants agreement with the local authorities."

The government had last year announced to provide Rs 200,000 as grant to the victims whose houses were destroyed by earthquakes.

The government said it would provide Rs 50,000 in first installment through banks to the victims once they sign a grant agreement with local authorities.

"There are 575 VDCs in the 11 districts most affected by the earthquakes last year. NRA has so far reached agreements with banks for distribution of grants only in 167 VDCs in the districts but it hasn't signed grant agreement with the victims in many of these VDCs," said Dahal, who also works as the ministry's focal person for reconstruction tasks. "The money can be distributed in a VDC only when the NRA signs agreements both with the banks and victims there because the victims need to produce their grant agreement papers before the banks."

Moreover, officials said the task hasn't gathered momentum as banks cannot open accounts for more than 35 victims per day due to lack of sufficient human resource.

Also, the work has been delayed due to several technical mistakes of the NRA while carrying out survey and other initial tasks earlier.

A large number of victims have complained that their names were registered incorrectly in the NRA survey and as result they are unable to open their bank accounts, according to a 24-point report submitted to the secretary of the ministry by its unit that oversees the reconstruction tasks.

According to Purna Chandra Bhattarai, spokesperson at the ministry, the local units in 11 districts have so far received at least 80,000 complaints. "Fifteen percent of these victims have said that they couldn't open their bank accounts and receive the first tranche of the grant because their names were earlier registered incorrectly," Joint Secretary Bhattarai told Republica.

The report titled "Why the distribution of grant amount has become so slow?" has stated that the task of grant distribution can't gather momentum until the problem of human resource is addressed.

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