Political turmoil clouds post-quake reconstruction works

- Post Report, Kathmandu
In the absence of the National Reconstruction Authority the works have ground to a halt

Oct 25, 2015-A series of unfortunate events, including the current petroleum shortages, have severely affected the post-earthquake reconstruction works.

In the absence of the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) -- an authority envisioned to lead and coordinate the reconstruction activities -- the works have ground to a halt.

The deadly April 25 earthquake killed around 9,000 people and left thousands others homeless.

Initially, the government’s attention towards the constitution promulgation and subsequent political turmoil affected the reconstruction works. And now, India’s unofficial trade blockade on Nepal has left the works in jeopardy.

“The absence of NRA in particular has stood as the major problem,” said Govinda Raj Pokhrel, vice-chairman of the National Planning Commission (NPC).

The authority, which was formed before the International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction (ICNR) held in Kathmandu in July through an ordinance, lost its validity after the Parliament failed to endorse a Bill to replace the ordinance under which the body was formed to oversee the reconstruction of structures damaged in earthquake.

According to Pokhrel, the NPC tried to lead the reconstruction initiative in the absence of the NRA, but it could not succeed as some line ministries were reluctant to identify the needs and take required action. “Apart from a few ministries, others failed to devise a concrete plan. Hence, there has been not much progress in reconstruction,” Pokhrel said.

According to a high-level government source, political polarisation is the biggest reason behind the slow progress. “The current scenario shows every political leader and party has own interest,” the source said. “The lack of political will is the main reason behind the slow works.”

The source said while the parties are more concerned about resources distribution, the parliamentarians want routing the support through NGOs. “As most of the parliamentarians are associated with NGOs, they want these agencies to get a sizable chunk of the funds,” the source said.

The UN has expressed concerns about the affects of the upcoming winter season on the earthquake survivors, many of whom are still without permanent and durable housing.

As per the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) report prepared by the NPC, the total value of the damage and losses caused by earthquake stands at Rs706 billion.

Of that amount, Rs517 billion (or 76 percent) represents the value of the destroyed physical assets, and Rs189 billion (24 percent) reflects the losses and higher costs of production of goods and services as a result of the disaster.

Published: 25-10-2015 08:43

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