Tired of waiting for Indian aid, MoE rebuilds schools on its own

Published On: February 19, 2018 10:45 AM NPT By: Sangeet Sangroula  | @SangeetJourno

KATHMANDU, Feb 19: Tired of waiting for foreign grants, the government has started reconstructing schools damaged by the 2015 earthquakes on its own. Due to the delay on part of the Indian side to release the pledged amount of post-earthquake reconstruction aid, the Ministry of Education has already rebuilt 100 out of 300 schools meant to be constructed from Indian assistance, according to sources at the ministry. 

The Ministry of Education has been pressing the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) to rebuild the remaining public schools by utilizing its internal sources.

As per the understanding reached between Nepal and India, the Indian side had agreed to reconstruct over 300 schools in all the 31 earthquake-hit districts. India had pledged to provide a total of US$ 750 million soft loan to reconstruct up to 10 schools in each of the affected districts. Based on the understanding, the ministry had even handed over the names of the schools to be reconstructed to the Indian side. 

But now, the ministry is pressing the NRA to reconstruct those schools citing delay on part of the Indian side as well as complicated procedures to seek the loan. 

“For a long time, the Indian side didn't make efforts to release the budget. And now, the Indian side has initiated the process to provide the loan but it has set forth lengthy and complex procedures, which have made it practically difficult for us to utilize the line of credit. So, we have proposed the NRA to rebuild the damaged schools from our own internal sources or other alternative sources,” said an official at the ministry on condition of anonymity. 

The official said that the tasks of school reconstruction won't finish on time if the government waits for the financial assistance from India. 

According to the official, the ministry needs to firstly submit the terms of reference of each of the reconstruction projects to NRA, which will then forward them to the Indian Embassy. The embassy will then forward it to the Export-Import Bank (Exim Bank) in Mumbai for review and approval. After the approval, the bank will hire Indian consultants to carry out detailed design survey for the schools reconstruction. 

“And after that, the documents will be finalized and the bidding process will begin. Plus, another condition is that the contractor should be Indian company. So, the process is really complicated and lengthy. Therefore, we have been saying to NRA to allocate budget from the internal sources and rebuild schools on our own,” the official said. 

“The Indian side wants to get involved in reconstruction of big schools. But most of the damaged schools are small ones and they are scattered in various districts. So, we have proposed NRA to rebuild schools by providing necessary budget from internal source to the school management committees,” the official said. 

The official said that the tasks of school reconstruction won't finish on time if the government waits for the financial assistance from India. 

“As per the NRA deadline, we should finish the school reconstruction works by the end of the next fiscal year. We have to finish reconstruction of at least 5,000 schools of the total 7,553 schools by the end of the current fiscal year and the remaining schools by the next fiscal year. So, we need to explore alternative ways,” the official added. 

As many as 4,349 schools have been reconstructed so far.   

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