Quake recovery hits new hurdle: Survivors building 1-room homes

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Apr 24, 2018-

Earthquake affected families building one-room houses to grab the government’s private house reconstruction grants has surfaced as another problem as the country marks third anniversary of the Gorkha earthquake.

Stakeholders have said many quake-hit families in districts outside Kathmandu are building room-one structures only for availing of the financial assistance.

According to Ramesh Babu Thapa Magar, the Sahid Lakhan Rural Municipality chairperson in Gorkha, such malpractice was rife. “Families who are affluent and have houses in other places such as Kathmandu are building one-room houses only to get the cash,” Magar said a programme in Kathmandu on Monday.

At the event organised by the Housing Recovery and Reconstruction Platform-Nepal (HRRP), participants from quake-hit districts drew the authorities’ attention to problems facing reconstruction works.

Addressing their concerns, National Reconstruction Authority Chief Executive Officer Yubaraj Bhusal said the NRA was aware of the problem. “When reconstruction started no one paid attention to this aspect. The minimum size of the house was not considered then. Now we notice that beneficiaries have built small houses. We will monitor this,” said Bhusal, adding that some families had returned the grant fearing action.

According to HRRP Nepal country coordinator Loren Lockwood scarcity and rising costs of construction materials and lack of skilled workers are other concerns that must be addressed for speeding up reconstruction works.

He also urged the rebuilding authority to encourage families to go for retrofitting, a potentially cheaper technology, for houses that were not totally damaged.

Concerns were raised also over the difficulties faced by quake-displaced families due to the lengthy grant distribution process. The cumbersome procedure to access grants has added to the trouble of families, said Dabbal Pandey, the Dolakha District Coordination Committee chairperson.

Rebuilding of public property left back

With the National Reconstruction Authority focusing on rebuilding of private homes, reconstruction of schools, health institutions, heritage sites and government offices lags behind.

The NRA was formed in August 2015 with a mandate to complete reconstruction works within five years. As of Monday, the authority has completed survey of 996,582 private homes for grant distribution. Reconstruction of 119,233 houses has been over.

According to the authority, as many as 750 heritage sites were impacted by the great earthquake three years ago. Of them, 133 sites were destroyed while 617 sustained partial damage. Reconstruction of 100 heritage sites has been over while work is yet to begin at 324 sites.

Published: 24-04-2018 08:24

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