PM censures NRA, and by extension, own govt

  • NC leader Mahat accuses government of viewing reconstruction through partisan lense
- Bhadra Sharma, Kathmandu

Mar 30, 2016-

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Tuesday criticised the National Reconstruction Authority, and by extension, his own government, for its failure to expedite post-quake reconstruction. 

PM Oli, during a meeting with chief district officers and local development officers of 14 quake-affected districts, said: “At this pace, it will take decades to complete reconstruction.”

It will be interesting to recall that PM Oli himself had handpicked little known Sushil Gyewali as the chief executive officer of the NRA in December last year after months of political bickering over who should head the reconstruction body. 

Oli was hell bent on not letting the person chosen by the Nepali Congress to continue as the NRA CEO, as a result there was a delay in the formation of the NRA. What is more interesting is as PM Oli censured the NRA, he is also to blame for the snail-paced reconstruction work, as he heads NRA’s two crucial committees—directive and advisory council.

“We will [soon] reach a point where the reconstruction would become a futile exercise because everything will be gone by then,” he said. “And people will die.” 

But PM Oli has long been accused of taking lackadaisical approach towards reconstruction, and the donor community has long feared politicisation of reconstruction work. Nepali Congress leader and former finance minister Ram Sharan Mahat, who was instrumental in huddling donors together in Kathmandu and extracting a pledge of over $4 billion for reconstruction, said the government has taken the whole rebuilding process “very lightly”.

 “They have failed to utilise available resources, including security forces. They continue to look at reconstruction from partisan point of view,” he said. 

Mahat argued that the Army and police, despite their stellar performance during search and rescue and relief operations, were overlooked when it came to reconstruction. Mahat blamed the absence of competent personnel in the NRA for the delays. 

Not just the main opposition party, even leaders from PM Oli’s own party, the CPN-UML, have expressed their dissatisfaction over the delay in reconstruction works. 

“The prime minister himself should introspect about the reasons behind the delay,” said an influential UML leader in Parliament. “The Ministry of Urban Development is the key agency to carry out reconstruction work. But the prime minister is yet to appoint minister. What is holding him back?” he wondered. 

And the UCPN (Maoist), a key coalition partner in the Oli government, is not far behind when it comes to censuring the government for the snail-paced progress in reconstruction. The Maoist party in its recent meeting had warned of quitting the government “if the reconstruction works are further delayed”.

The country is approaching the first anniversary of the devastating earthquakes, but the NRA is still struggling to rope in adequate staff and no substantive progress has been made in rebuilding quake destroyed houses and infrastructures so far.

Published: 30-03-2016 08:28

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