Rebuilding on drawing board amid staff lack

- Bhadra Sharma, Kathmandu

Jan 9, 2016-

As the National Recons-truction Authority (NRA) gears up for post-earthquake rebuilding from next week, human resource crunch has emerged as a stumbling block for the high-powered body.

Apart from the chief executive officer and experts appointed by the Cabinet, the NRA has only five officials including acting Secretary Madhusudan Adhikari and two other under-secretaries deputed from the Ministry of General Administration. They are engaged in administrative works.

International donors have pledged more than $4 billion in total to rebuild houses, heritage sites and infrastructure damaged by the Gorkha earthquake. The government has earmarked Rs91 billion—Rs74billion of which will be spent through the NRA—for the current fiscal year for rebuilding works. 

The delay in passing the law to govern the central body and appointing its CEO has left earthquake survivors in the lurch eight months since the disaster.

The authority is planning to kickstart the National Reconstruction Campaign from January 16—the annual earthquake safety day. In a symbolic move, it will lay the foundation stones on the day for rebuilding a house of an affected family and a heritage site. The NRA has begun an organisation and management survey to ascertain its structure and the number of staffers required to carry out reconstruction of houses and infrastructure damaged by the earthquakes in April and May last year.

After holding a serious of consultations with the stakeholders concerned, officials at the high-powered body have concluded that it needs at least 150 personnel to begin works in the quake-affected districts. “Surely, works have been affected by the human resource crunch. But efforts to fill the void through deputation or fresh recruitment are being made,” said Adhikari.

Based on their consultation, including with officials from the Office of the Prime Minister, NRA officials are preparing to set up a two-tier organisational structure—central and sub-regional—to oversee reconstruction projects.

Officials say it will take time to make the authority fully functional. The NRA Act mandates deputation or fresh recruitment on contract basis if government officials refuse to work for it. “The authority may have to adopt both the ways,” said Prem Kumar Rai, a PMO secretary involved in the preparations.

The NRA Central Directive Committee headed by the prime minister endorses the organisational structure and hiring. The first meeting of the Directive Committee will be held on Monday.

The authority has proposed deploying a senior joint-secretary to lead sub-regional clusters in quake-affected districts to monitor, supervise and coordinate with local authorities on reconstruction activities. The central authority will formulate policy and coordinate with the ministries. NRA CEO Sushil Gyewali said the appointment of experts has enabled him to begin work. 

Gyewali welcomed newly-appointed experts for central advisory, and directive and executive committees to office on Friday.

The government has appointed Umesh Chandra Upadhyay, Bhawani Rana and Sharmila Karki as experts to the Central Advisory Council, Kishor Thapa and Taranidhi Bhattarai to the Central Directive Committee. Chandra Bahadur Shrestha, Dhruba Raj Sharma and Bishnu Bhandari have been appointed to the Central Executive Committee.

Published: 09-01-2016 08:31

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