Ordinance mooted for response body

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu

May 21, 2015-

The government is planning to introduce a new and improved central disaster response body through an ordinance.

The Cabinet meeting on Thursday decided to take the fast track approach to form such body as the House session is currently in recess.  

“Given the urgency of the matter, we have decided to approve the bill pertaining to the formation of disaster response body through an ordinance,” Foreign Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey said, adding that the government will soon forward the bill to President Ram Baran Yadav for approval.

After the President has approved the ordinance, it has to be endorsed by the House within six months.

In the wake of the Great Earthquake and its aftershocks, there has been widespread complaint that lack of functioning central authority has led to poor coordination among the state agencies in the ongoing relief and rehabilitation works in the quake-affected areas.

The proposed bill envisions formation of Disaster Management National Council, led by the prime minister, to prepare a long-term action plan to mitigate risks and to respond to disasters like earthquake. The Council will be co-chaired by the home minister have ministers, chief secretary, vice-chairman of the National Planning Commission, the Nepal Army chief and two experts as members.

The Council will have the mandate to collect funds from the state, foreign countries, donor agencies and other available sources to provide humanitarian relief to disaster victims. The bill also proposes spending the money collected in the Prime Minister Relief Fund through the Council.

When the devastating earthquake struck the country on April 25, the existing disaster response department, led by a Home joint-secretary, had failed to effectively coordinate with the ministries and security agencies to conduct the rescue and relief works.

The proposed bill also envisions formation of an executive committee under the home minister to prepare long-term policy, planning and programmes concerning disaster management. The Council will be authorised to mobilise all the security agencies and ministries in a coordinated manner.

Three ministerial-level committees have also been proposed to undertake disaster mitigation tasks and reconstruction and rehabilitation projects. The committee led by the federal affairs and local development minister will be responsible for identifying disaster-prone areas, and incorporating related contents in the school and university curricula. The committee will also make plan and enforce codes regarding land use and building safety. Relocating settlements located in vulnerable areas, providing logistical support to hospitals at the time of emergency and enhancing the capacity of local bodies to tackle possible disasters are the major tasks that ministerial-level committees will oversee.

Meanwhile, the government has formed National Reconstruction Committee  to resettle the earthquake victims. The committee led by Prime Minister Sushil Koirala will have representatives from all the political parties represented in Parliament, members of National Planning Commission and experts, said Minister for Youth and Sports Purushottam Poudel.

Published: 22-05-2015 08:00

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