Red tape may delay plan to build shelters

- BHADRA SHARMA, KAMAL DEV BHATTARAI, Kathmandu

May 19, 2015-

Red tape is a major challenge to overcome for constructing temporary shelters for tens of thousands of earthquake victims. Four days after it announced Rs15,000 for each affected household to construct temporary shelters, the government is yet to formulate the working procedure for relief distribution and to identify the victims.

The government had opted for cash abandoning its earlier plan to provide zinc sheets to the displaced people concluding that logistics distribution would take time.

Less than three weeks before monsoon begins, people hoping for money to build shelters using local materials or to buy roofing sheets are not sure when they will get the help.

Chief District Officers who learnt from the media that the government has decided to provide cash instead of kind for the resettlement of the people rendered homeless are under pressure from victims to address their concerns.

“People have already started asking for the cash but we have no idea when funds will be released and the procedure to distribute them circulated,” said Dolakha CDO Prem Lal Lamichhane.

Officials involved in relief distribution said the chances of building temporary shelters before the rains are diminishing owing to the delay in handing out cash to the victims, obstruction in vital roads such as Araniko Highway that connects the worst-hit Sindhupalchok and Dolakha with Kathmandu and Pasang Lhamu Highway connecting Rasuwa and Nuwakot.

Massive landslides have obstructed the roads and it is not clear how victims can purchase zinc sheets and other construction materials required to set up shelters.

Already facing a cash crunch, the PM Disaster Relief Fund is struggling to arrange for money for relief and rescue efforts. The Fund had requested the Finance Ministry to release Rs4 billion for shelter construction. However, the ministry on Tuesday released only Rs2 billion citing a lack of resources.

As the home minister-led Central Natural Disaster Relief Committee depends on the PM Relief Fund, Home Ministry officials said the lack of money in the source could hit the plan to build shelters immediately.

Despite the pledge of the international community and donors to provide billions of rupees, officials said a small percentage of the commitment has been deposited to the Relief Fund.

“We have been funding all the relief and rescue tasks from the treasury,” said Home Secretary Surya Prasad Silwal.

Even if the local bodies get the cash, it will take some time for the victims to avail of the provision. Before distributing cash, local authorities need to collect the details of the houses and categorise them on the basis of the damage. CDOs have said they need at least a week to collect final data on the damage. Government teams have yet to reach the remotest parts of Gorkha, Sindhupalchok, Nuwakot, Dolakha, Dhading and Rasuwa districts for the purpose.

“Only two villages have submitted final data,” said Gorkha CDO Udhhav Prasad Timilsina.

District Administration Office Nuwakot has deployed teams in all the 61 villages for data collection. Many Village Development Committees do not have the secretaries and hundreds of VDC office buildings have collapsed in the quake.

Over 500,000 private houses were destroyed and some 300,000 sustained damage in 38 districts after multiple aftershocks rattled the country, according to the Home Ministry.

Published: 20-05-2015 07:47

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