KATHMANDU, July 14: As the post of Chief Executive Officer of the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) remains vacant since last week, the fate of some of the important administrative works needed to be carried out immediately to expedite post-earthquake reconstruction has become uncertain.
Officials at the NRA said that the government's delay in appointing a new chief executive officer (NRA) on time may hamper the task of post-quake reconstruction and rehabilitation which had finally managed to gather pace after three years of the devastating earthquakes.
The deadline for the earthquake victims whose houses were damaged by the earthquake to apply for second tranche of the housing grant will expire after two days. The deadline was supposed to be extended by a meeting of the steering committee of the NRA chaired by the prime minister on July 8 as many eligible victims are unlikely to meet the deadline for applying for second tranche.
Of the total 713,435 victims receiving the first tranche, 470,460 victims have managed to apply for the second tranche of Rs 150,000 have so far. If the deadline is not extended, remaining 242, 975 victims won't be able to get the second tranche of the housing grant, delaying reconstruction of their damaged houses.
But the government's abrupt decision of June 4 to terminate the appointment of NRA CEO Yuba Raj Bhusal along with other appointments made by the erstwhile government has made a new meeting of the steering committee uncertain. The meeting cannot be held without the executive chief of the authority.
The NRA has planned to complete the housing grant distribution by the end of the next fiscal year. But the delay in appointing a new CEO for a long time may hinder the NRA's progress, said the official.
“First, the decision to sack the NRA CEO came abruptly. Second, even though some crucial decisions with regard to reconstruction needed to be made immediately, the government has not taken any decision toward filling the vacant CEO position,” said an NRA official, who did not want to be named. The NRA almost becomes defunct without its CEO as the Act to Provide for Reconstruction of the Earthquake Affected Structures 2072 has it that the CEO will act whole time as the executive chief of the authority and that no other official can work in his/her place.
Similarly, the NRA steering committee also was supposed to endorse the NRA budget for the next fiscal year. “If a new CEO may seek to make changes to the budget prepared by Bhusal's team, the process of endorsing the budget may further take time, hampering the reconstruction efforts,” said the official.
Likewise, the steering committee was also likely to enlist 129,000 left-out victims whose houses were damaged by the earthquake as eligible victims for receiving the housing grant.
“Without CEO, the NRA has become almost defunct as it has not been able to take major decisions,” the official said.