Cabinet endorses short-term relief for quake victims

- KAMAL DEV BHATTARAI, Kathmandu
Cabinet endorses short-term relief for quake victims

May 16, 2015-

Considering the fast-approaching monsoon, the Cabinet on Saturday endorsed a short-term relief package for earthquake victims primarily focusing on temporary shelter, storage of food items for at least three months, and arrangement of basic health facilities.  

The Cabinet meeting held at the prime minister’s residence in Baluwatar decided that people who have lost their houses due to the April 25 Great Earthquake and subsequent powerful aftershocks will get Rs15,000 to build temporary shelters before the rainy season.  

The amount will be provided on the basis of identity cards issued by the Village Development Committee secretary after actual assessment of the damage. The process is almost complete in the worst-hit districts. The grant is for people to buy galvanised zinc sheets and other materials required to build shelters.

However, as most of the buildings housing the offices of the VDCs, municipalities and health posts are damaged in the quake-hit districts, relief distribution has

already been hit. Also, many VDCs have no secretary and other staff.

Health Minister Khagaraj Adhikari said tasks related to temporary shelter construction will be completed without the next two days and the Cabinet has instructed all the line ministries to make preparations accordingly.

Earlier, the National Planning Commission (NPC) had recommended that the government distribute the roofing material to set up shelters. The government reached the decision with a view that many shelters could be built with local resources. The government will also provide people with the designs of temporary homes.

The meeting banned the export of the zinc sheets while deciding to facilitate private firms to import corrugated sheets. The government agencies will ensure the availability of construction materials in the districts.

In the case of villages (settlements) that have been destroyed or face landslide risk, the government will relocate people to safety and construct community shelter houses, according to Minister for Information and Communications Minendra Rijal. The NPC, in coordination with the Home and Urban Development ministries, will take final decisions about mass temporary housing in risky areas.

The supply of food in the affected districts as well as in others that are vulnerable to floods is another priority of the government. The Cabinet has decided to ensure the storage of food items in the districts for at least three months.

Medicine stock and health post services would be maintained to tackle diseases related to monsoon. “We have started sending medicines and health workers to the affected districts,” said Health Minister Adhikari.

In order to speed up relief distribution, the Cabinet has also decided to send ministers to the quake-affected districts for coordination and monitoring of efforts.

Lawmakers will also reach their constituencies for monitoring relief activities. Earlier, they had pressed the government to define their role in the relief and reconstruction process. In several districts, the tussle between government officials and local politicians has hampered relief distribution.

Emergency measures

- Rs15,000 to quake victims to build temporary houses

- Government to ensure the galvanised zinc sheets in local markets

- Storage of food items for three months

- Stock of medicines for the rainy season

- Resumption of health posts and presence of health workers

- Ministers to visit affected districts

- Lawmakers to go to their constituencies

- People in vulnerable villages to be shifted to common shelters

Published: 17-05-2015 08:13

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