National

Panel empowers lawmakers to inspect quake-hit homes

  • CEO Gyewali backs decision
- SANJEEV GIRI, Kathmandu

Sep 7, 2018-

A meeting of the National Reconstruction Authority  (NRA) Steering Committee decided on Thursday to designate rights of making recommendation and inspection of private home impacted by the 2015 earthquake to the local authorities.

The meeting chaired by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, according to the authority, made the decision to expedite the reconstruction process by making elected representatives active and accountable.

Some of the authority officials, however, are not upbeat about the plan as this is not the first time the plan to bring local representatives on board has been floated.

The authority in November 2017 had even prepared a guideline to mobilise local representatives, but the process could not gather momentum as leaders put forward demands for “populist programmes” that could swing votes in the federal parliament and provincial assembly elections. “The situation this time has changed a bit as the elections are over. However, elected representatives come from a certain political party, which is why they are certain to be biased in fulfilling their duties,” one high-ranking official told the Post, recalling an incident wherein many of such representatives had put forward a demand that the grant provided by the authority for reconstruction of private house be channelled through them. “It’s all about cementing their base as a political leader.” In the immediate aftermath of the 2015 earthquake, the government decided to provide Rs200,000 per household in private housing rebuilding aid, which was later increased to Rs300,000 to be distributed in three instalments—Rs50,000, Rs150,000 and Rs100,000.    

Yubraj Bhusal, former NRA Chief Executive Officer, told the Post that such practice will set the wrong tendency of supporting party cadres and bargaining with those from the opposition party.

“Several cases wherein real victims have failed to get enlisted in the lists of quake beneficiary have come into notice time and again. The situation might deteriorate further if elected representatives are designated all the rights,” Bhusal said.

When reminded about the previous decision wherein Bhusal himself was at the helm of authority, he tweaked his statement, saying the decision made during his tenure had limited the role of local representatives.

NRA’s newly-appointed Chief Executive Officer Sushil Gyewali defended the decision, assuring that there won’t be an irregularity of funds because quake survivors will be distributed funds through banks and financial institutions.

“Quake survivors are finding it difficult to cope with bureaucratic hurdles, which is why the process has been simplified,” Gyewali said, adding that the authority also aims to mobilise manpower from the local level to expedite reconstruction process.

“Committees at the community level will be established in all the local units to ensure that there aren’t personal biases-and the NRA will oversee the overall process.”

The authority is also making preparations to deploy senior engineers in rural municipalities to oversee the work of engineers deployed in the wards.

An executive committee meeting of the authority will convene within a few days to amend the working plan before initiating discussion with the local representatives on the working modality.

Meanwhile, the meeting also decided to bring government staffers working on reconstruction under the direct command of NRA. The meeting additionally decided that the concerned ministries are subjected to provide necessary staff for the authority as soon as possible and consent would be sought from the authority while transferring these staff.

Deadlines for beneficiaries

KATHMANDU: A meeting of the National Recons-truction Authority Steering Committee on Thursday reviewed the deadline to receive the private housing grant.

As per the decision, beneficiaries who have received the first tranche should collect the second tranche by the end of mid-January 2019. Similarly, those who have received the second tranche should collect the third tranche by the end of mid-May 2019.

The deadline is not applicable to the following categories: those considered as quake beneficiaries after hearing their grievances; those included after re-survey; those living in places having historic importance and to those who had to be relocated to safer places, a statement issued by the authority reads.

Published: 07-09-2018 07:50

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