It was exactly two years ago when then Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli inaugurated the “mega reconstruction campaign.” He went to Bungmati of Lalitpur district to kick off the campaign. Two years later, the gate there is in even worse condition. Locals in Bungamti are dismayed by the sheer negligence of the government to expedite the reconstruction process. It feels as if all those promises and commitments for rebuilding the country were made only to hoodwink the innocent people. Reports coming out from various earthquake affected districts suggest the same.
Over 80 percent of quake survivors have missed the deadline to apply for second tranche of housing grant. The process to apply for grants is complicated and the engineers deployed on the ground by National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) have not been of much help. To start with, their attrition rate is very high. Second, some of them have been found guilty of asking money to certify the houses under construction for the next tranche of grant. The result: People are forced to live under make-shift tents even two and half years after April 2015 tragedy.
Reports of government authorities in Nuwakot burning damaged goods meant for earthquake survivors went viral last week. This speaks volumes about the state of our affairs. Over 10,000 units of electric induction stove donated by the People’s Republic of China are gathering dust somewhere in government godown. Our government never bothered to distribute the stoves meant for earthquake survivors. To make the matters even worse, NRA has become a political tool. Parties send their favorites to lead the agency and it has seen three CEOs in the last two and half years. The overall result has been nothing sort of disappointing. The enthusiasm with which the international community pledged over four billion dollars at the International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction in Kathmandu in June 2015 has waned. INGOs and NGOs have produced impressive reports on glossy paper to receive more money for their works on the ground. But very little has changed in the lives of survivors.
It almost feels like we as a country have become immune to the everyday suffering of the survivors. Their stories have failed to make us think of the issue as something of great urgency. No one bothers to raise the voice on behalf of those suffering out in the cold around country’s some of the remote villages. We are too busy figuring out the details of the new government and so forth and so on. The NRA has to wake up from the deep sleep. We have to ignite the sense of urgency in providing the needed support to make sure that survivors complete building their houses at the earliest. We are not new to big natural disasters, from floods to landslides to earthquakes. It is important that our agencies remain prepared to take on post-disaster recovery and rebuilding efforts with the rigor they deserve. Let us fulfill basic duty of the state to protect its citizens when they are most vulnerable.