Planners start making reconstruction policies

- KAMAL DEV BHATTARAI, Kathmandu
Planners start making reconstruction policies

May 3, 2015-

With the Great Quake of April 25 causing a huge damage to rural and urban infrastructures, the National Planning Commission (NPC) has started preparing a concrete plan of reconstruction and rehabilitation, which it will present to the government as well as the international community. 

“The tasks of assessing the damage done by the earthquake and preparing a proper plan of action will go simultaneously. We have to present concrete programmes, plans, policies and the estimated cost to gather international support,” said NPC Vice-chairman Govinda Pokhrel.

The commission on Sunday held discussions with experts on reconstruction plans, including ways to address human settlement in the hills and mountains.

Similarly, the Ministry of Urban Development and Construction has formed a special taskforce to collect data regarding the damage of earthquake in coordination with the Home Ministry. 

Laxmi Prasad Dhakal, Home Ministry spokesperson, said that they have instructed the District Administration Offices to submit the data of the earthquake-induced infrastructural damage as soon as possible.

Most of the government offices, including the President’s Office, Prime Minister’s Office, Nepal Army Headquarters, Supreme Court and the Nepal Rastra Bank have been partially damaged by the earthquake. 

The preliminary assessment made by the Ministry of Education said that 4,500 government school buildings have suffered serious damages or possess cracks due to strong tremors. Similarly, district health offices and primary health offices of the 14 most-affected districts need to be partially or completely reconstructed.

The Prime Minister’s Office has directed the Ministry of Culture, Tourism, Civil Aviation to prepare an immediate plan for the preservation and reconstruction of heritage sites. “Until the reconstruction begins, we have directed our police units to provide full-proof security to the heritage sites that are located even in the remote parts of the country,” said Nepal Police spokesperson Kamal Singh Bam.  Currently, India and Japan have shown their interest to reconstruct the damaged heritage sites. 

On Thursday, the government set up the National Reconstruction Fund to rebuild the physical infrastructures that collapsed or suffered damages as a result earthquake, and earmarked Rs 20 billion for the fund that aims to collect Rs 200 billion in total. The Cabinet meeting also decided to ask donor agencies to provide funds for the reconstruction purpose, along with directing diplomatic missions abroad to take steps to garner international support for rehabilitation and reconstruction processes.

Planners and experts have suggested that a high-powered independent body is needed for speedy reconstruction and rehabilitation works. “The government’s current mechanism is not enough for speedy rehabilitation,” said Jagadish Chandra Pokhrel, former vice-chairman of NPC. 

According to the government officials, they are studying the cases of other countries that have been affected from earthquake to define government’s role for reconstructing private buildings. Reconstruction of government buildings and social infrastructures such as heritage sites, bridges and roads is the sole responsibility of the Nepal government. 

Pokhrel stressed that time has come to prepare separate policies for rural and urban areas. According to him, Nepal needs to pay enough attention to open spaces and strict implementation of building codes, while constructing some emergency centres for the possible disasters. “We should pay attention about the scattered human settlement in the remote areas. We can shift the settlement in those places with a low risk of earthquake and other disaster. We can also build a settlement in a way that makes government services available to all citizens,” said Pokhrel. 

Donors and neighbouring countries have already said they are ready to support Nepal in this hour of crisis. The United Nations and its partners appealed for Rs 42.1 billion ($415 million) on Wednesday, a money they say is urgently needed to provide vital relief to those affected by the devastating earthquake.

Similarly, President of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Takehiko Nakao said on Saturday that the bank would provide an additional $200 million to Nepal. “ADB has provided a $3 million grant to Nepal to assist in the immediate relief efforts and will provide an additional $200 million to help meet rehabilitation and reconstruction needs,” said Nakao, during the Asian Development Fund Donors Annual Consultation Meeting, held in Baku, Azerbaijan. The bank’s president has invited Nepali officials, who attended the annual meeting in Baku, to discuss ADB’s support. 

 

 

Nepal seeks $2b ADB support 

Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat has requested the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to help support the reconstruction work of Nepal in the aftermath of the great earthquake on April 25. 

Addressing the ADB’s 48th annual meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, Mahat said Nepal would need $2 billion to rebuild the country after the disaster and urged the bank and other donors for help.

“We  are preparing the groundwork for a medium to long-term reconstruction. We have decided to set up the National Reconstruction Fund of $2 billion where the government has already earmarked $200 million from its own resources,” said Mahat told the assembly. 

“Detailed assessments of loss and damage and financing needs for reconstruction are being done, after which we will make public the true need,” said Minister Mahat who was provided a special forum at the assembly in view of the latest disaster that befell the country. “We are counting on our development partners to help us meet the eventual shortfall. The amounts I just stated are in addition to about $500 million needed for immediate humanitarian assistance during the rescue and relief phases.”

According to the Ministry of Finance, most of the donor countries present in the meet committed to assist in response to a joint request from Minister Mahat and the ADB to help Nepal. Outlining the restoration plan, Mahat said it would be carried out in three phases from immediate shelter to construction of houses. (PR)

Published: 04-05-2015 09:44

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