Quake victims accuse contractor of taking all money, leaving houses incomplete

Published On: September 6, 2019 07:00 AM NPT By: Madhusudan Guragain

KAVRE, Sept 6: All the victims whose houses were destroyed in the earthquakes in 2015 were elated when they were told that they would get government grant of Rs 300,000 to build a new house.

However some of the earthquake victims have accused a private company of leaving the construction work incomplete even after receiving money from the victims.

A private company had reached an agreement to make houses at Banepa-12, (previously Mahendrajyoti VDC) and collected the grants money of Rs 300,000 from each household since mid-February 2018. But the locals have accused the company of not completing the construction even years after collecting the money. Most of those complaining against the company are single women and with poor financial condition.

Some of the villagers couldn't even name the company that was responsible to build their houses. They said they don't have any documents other than the grant agreements signed with the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) saying that they handed over all the documents to the company's representatives.

“Immediately after receiving the installments of the reconstruction grant, we handed the money over to the company's representatives as they promised to give us a new house,” said 73-year-old Mithu Karki of Mahendrajyoti-5. “But now, they have neither fitted the doors nor are there any windows. I worked so hard that I became ill and got admitted at the hospital. The company has left the house incomplete.”

Her husband Tej Bahadur, a policeman, was killed by Maoists at his own home during the insurgency. Now she is living with her daughter. She wants to move to her new house but she the construction is still incomplete. “Now I feel cheated because the grant money of Rs 300,000 has gone to a waste. I shouldn't have given the construction contract to the company,” said the widow.

Also, Pampha Bhujel of Mathillo Karkigaun spent four years in a makeshift hut. “I gave the entire grant amount to the company. But they have left it incomplete without fitting the doors and windows. There is no electricity connection and even structural work is still incomplete,” she complained.

Like, Karki and Bhujel, there are many widows and poor families whose houses are incomplete. They have accused Zeal Infrastructure Services Pvt Ltd of taking their grant money and leaving the houses incomplete.

The locals said they gave the company a total of Rs 300,000 received as housing grant immediately after the government released the grant in three installments.

Seventy-two-year-old Karna Kumari Karki of Karkigaun has asked her children and grandchildren to track down the representatives of the construction company, which left her house incomplete.

“Why did the company sign agreement with the poor if it was unable to complete the work? Now they don't pick our phone calls and do not respond to our text messages,” said local social worker Kumar Bahadur Karki.

He claimed that the construction company not only left the houses incomplete but the construction is also sub-standard. The walls have already developed cracks.

However Zeal Infrastructure's director Gaurav KC refuted the allegations and told Republica that they are still working in Mahendrajyoti village. He said some of the quake victims took back the money from the company even after signing construction contract. He claimed that they have already completed 12 houses of the victims who are among 38 victims signing construction contract with the company. “We have completed 12 houses but some work is incomplete because the cost of labor and construction materials have increased,” he argued.

Chairman of ward number 12 Banepa Municipality Ram Bahadur Kunwar said that if the victims file complaints with his office along with agreement documents, then the ward can press the contractor to complete the work on time.

Although the guidelines of Private Housing Reconstruction Technical Inspection 2073 BS approved by National Reconstruction Authority states that the construction company receives the third tranche only after the NRA-certified inspectors [at the ward office] certify that the house construction is complete, the company has already received the third tranche and construction completion certificate without completing the work. This made the locals even more suspicious.

“We will inquire why our engineers recommended the release of the third installment of the grant before the construction was completed. We will probe the matter,” said Kavre unit chief of Grant Management and Rural Infrastructure Sagar Acharya.

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