Discrepancies in no. of quake-hit families

  • Officials suspect wrongdoing by some victims to line their pockets
- BHADRA SHARMA, Kathmandu

May 27, 2015-

The number of families seeking government relief in the earthquake-hit districts has shot up—as much as by 20 percent in some places—raising suspicion of possible wrongdoing by the victims themselves.

Officials involved in aid works suspect that some victims may have registered their names multiple times with the intention of collecting more cash and relief supplies.

In some of the quake-affected districts officials have asked the local bodies to verify the number of registered households with earlier record.

In some places, officials said, there have been cases of former joint families registering their names as separate households. Nuwakot has received the most complaints regarding ‘fake households”.

“In some villages, there was over 20 percent rise in the number of households when the data was compared with the latest census,” said Kosh Hari Niraula, chief district officer (CDO) of Nuwakot.

The 2011 census puts the number of households in Nuwakot at 65,000. The number of families in the district who have registered themselves as the earthquake victims has  reached 69,215.

Although the District Administration Office (DAO) has already held several rounds of meetings with the concerned stakeholders—political parties, civil society members, social mobilisers and village development secretaries–– about the issue, no measures has been taken to resolve it so far.

“The political parties and the other concerned sides have assured to assist VDC secretaries in verification

process, but they have remained largely non-supportive,” said Niraula.

Moreover, he added, there have been complaints against some political parties forcing VDC secretaries into conducting the relief works to suit their political interests.

So far, the Nuwakot administration  has taken action against seven people who had received immediate cash relief illegally. Many others had returned the cash relief after the authorities warned of legal action against fake victims.

The local administrations of Dolakha, Sindhupalchok, Rasuwa and Gorkha districts have also stumbled across a similar problem where the number of earthquake-affected families does not measure up with the census data.

“The recent census shows that there are around 9,000 households in Rasuwa, but there are already over 12,000 households who have been identified as the earthquake-affected,” said Gautam Rimal, acting CDO of Rasuwa.

Meanwhile, the Gorkha DAO has instructed its local bodies to cross-check the details of the victims. “We have sensed irregularities while collecting details of the quake victims. Investigations are also underway keeping possibility of misuse in relief distribution,” said CDO Uddab Prasad Timalsina.

The Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development has said that the relief distribution will begin only after determining the exact number of earthquake-affected households.

The government has announced to provide Rs 200,000 each to the families rendered homeless by the earthquake and Rs 15,000 cash package for building temporary shelters.

However, with the local bodies struggling to gather the accurate number of families affected by the quake, the plan to distribute cash relief immediately after issuing ID card to the victims has also been hit.

Published: 28-05-2015 07:03

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