Laprak quake victims dismayed by NRNA's terms

Published On: January 31, 2017 01:20 AM NPT By: Narahari Sapkota

GORKHA, Jan 31: After nearly two years of the great earthquake, homeless victims of Gorkha are likely to receive new residences with the support of the Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA). But the association's condition has put the victims in a fix. The association has asked the victim families to manage raw materials for constructing their house on their own. For the victims the condition is very hard to meet. 

As per the deal reached between the association and the government, NRNA is supposed to build houses for earthquake victims of Laprak. This area that lies in the northern part of the district was devastated during the earthquake. The government has allocated 18.3 hector land in Gupstipakha area of Laprak for constructing the new settlement. As per the design, each unit of the four-room house would be erected on 3.3 anna of land. Construction of a unit is estimated to incur a cost of Rs 1.2 million. 

NRNA has started to prepare land for starting the construction. This had brought joy among the victim families unless they realized that they are supposed to provide construction materials for their house. In the agreement NRNA has made it clear that construction materials including timber should be provided by the victims themselves. This clause, which victims say they were not aware of, has left them in dismay. 

“They say that we have to provide construction materials on our own. How is it possible?” questioned Raj Gurung adding that it was not possible for victims like him to gather resources for buying timber for windows, and doors. 
“We were thinking that we are supposed to contribute labor for constructing the house.

But now they are asking we provide all the construction materials also. From where are we supposed to provide that? We are not allowed to cut trees in the jungle and we don't have money to buy them,” he said expressing frustration on this latest hurdle that is blocking his family's aspiration to get into a permanent house. 

Victims claim that they would have erected house much earlier on their own if they were able to afford to purchase construction materials. “It was because of our inability to get all the construction materials that we remained homeless for such a long period. Don't you think we would have made a house for ourselves till now if we could get all these materials?” Gurung asked. 

Earthquake victims of Laprak lament that they passed two deadly winter under tents due to the government's apathy towards their plight and in the hope that the NRNA would one day provide for their houses. 

“We passed monsoon under tents, we passed winters under tents. Many got sick, some even died. But nobody bothered to ask how we were living,” he said. “The NRNA finally did come here but what is the point of their assistance if we have to provide all the construction materials and labor?” 

Located at an altitude of 2700 meters from the sea level, Laprak is mostly covered with thick snow during the winter. 

On Saturday NRNA President Shesh Ghale discussed the association's plans with the Larpak locals. During the discussion he tried to explain the terms of the association's agreement with the government and urged locals for managing construction materials for building their homes on their own. He informed that NRNA will be erecting 573 houses in Laprak along with health post and school among other basic facilities. 

District Administration Officer Jitendra Basnet informed that if the said raw materials are provided by the beneficiaries themselves, it would bring down construction cost of a unit by around Rs 300,000. “But the locals are worried over the condition in the agreement. They are basically worried about procuring timber,” he said. 

Laprak VDC secretary Dhrubaraj Parajuli expressed bewilderment at the condition stating that the construction materials provided by the villagers won't be uniform in quality. “When every individual house is going to get timber and other materials on their own, how will the NRNA ensure that those materials adhere to the quality of construction expected from the project? It does not sound practical,” he said.  

NRNA has been receiving manual and technical support from the Nepal Army as well as volunteers for constructing the new settlement. The association has been able to establish a brick manufacturing unit in the area. The association expects to handover the settlement to the victims within eight months.

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