Quake victims who built homes themselves deprived of grant

Published On: January 20, 2018 02:54 AM NPT By: Bhagawati Lama

NUWAKOT, Jan 20:  Tired of waiting for the government to implement the reconstruction policy after the devastating earthquake of 2015, a large number of quake victims in Nuwakot rebuilt their houses on their own. But not many had the slightest idea that this would deprive them of the reconstruction grant provided by the government. 

Looking at some traditional houses in the district, people might think they must have been built before earthquake but actually they were built after the catastrophic disaster. Due to the lack of technical manpower, the quake victims built their houses by breaching the standards and criteria set by the government. This is why; they have not been able to claim the reconstruction grant.

Harka Bahadur Ghale of Belkotgadhi Municipality ward no.7 said, "Despite difficulties, we somehow managed to rebuild our house but now we have been deprived of the relief." The quake victims lived in makeshift tents and huts waiting for the government to take some action. After waiting for long, some of them thought it would be convenient to seek loan and build their houses on their own and later ask for the relief. By then, most of them had been provided with the first tranche of the grant. But they had no idea that it would deprive them of the second tranche. Many of them are regretting their decisions now.

Ghale who himself is a mason was shocked when the technicians informed him that his house could not be approved for the second tranche as it has been built to the government-set standards and criteria. "I have already built my house but the technicians told me that it can't be approved for the grant as it is not quake-resilient," laments Ghale. 

According to the government provision, if the victims have not built their houses as per the new building code, they will have to return Rs 50,000 which was provided to them as the first tranche of the reconstruction grant. This has become a great problem for Ghale and other victims. This is the reason why he is planning to make another house as per the new building code.

Shiva Pyakurel of Gerkhu, Nuwakot shares a similar story. As the quake reduced his house to rubble in 2015, he started rebuilding his house immediately after receiving the first grant as he could not see his family struggling in tents. "We didn't know that the government will bring a reconstruction policy later as we had already received the first tranche," said Pyakurel, adding, "We were actually planning to pay the loan with the second and third tranche but now we don't know how we will do that."

There are 5,364 quake damaged houses in Nuwakot which were built before the reconstruction policy came into effect. Currently, all of them have been deprived of the grant. As informed by Bed Prasad Gaudel, Chief of the District Coordination Committee Secretariat of National Reconstruction Authority (NRA), those houses which were built before the implementation of new building code will be retrofitted and renovated and then recommended for grant.  

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