Housing aid too little, too late?

  • Gorkha tremor survivors say Rs 200,000 not enough to build homes

Apr 15, 2016-

Almost a year after the devastating earthquake that killed nearly 9,000 people and rendered tens of thousands homeless, the government is gearing up to rebuild houses and infrastructure and has started distributing Rs 200,000 housing aid. 

But is Rs 200,000, which will be released in installments, sufficient for constructing houses? Ask earthquake survivors of some of the remote parts of the country. Take for example people from the northern VDCs of Gorkha, the epicentre of the April 25 earthquake. 

“It costs a lot of money just to transport construction materials to these areas,” said Kunsang Tamang of Bihi, one of the remote VDCs in the north of Gorkha, who lost his house to the earthquake. 

The northern villages in the district are more than 70 kilometres from the district headquarters. The area is not well connected with the road network. People have no option than to use porters and mules to transport goods. “The government aid is not enough for even transporting construction materials to the villages,” said Tamang. 

Nangchhiring Gurung of Kerauja, another earthquake survivor, said, “Villagers here pay Rs 1,000 to ferry a sack of cement to the villages in the north. How can we construct a house when transportation cost is so high?” 

Nothing is cheap in these remote parts of the district. 

“A packet of salt costs Rs 95 here,” said Sangi Chhutun Lama of Bihi. “We cannot build a house with Rs 200,000 as we have to pay an exorbitant amount of money to transport construction materials from the district headquarters,” he added. 

Earlier, the District Disaster Management Committee (DDMC) had sought at least Rs 500, 000 each for the quake-affected households of remote areas. 

Hira Gurung of Sirdibash estimated that around Rs 2.2 million is required to construct a quake-resistant house. “Rs 200,000 could be sufficient only for paying transportation charges,” said Gurung.

But quake survivors of Gorkha say they do not know when the Rs 200,000 aid will reach them. The government has just started releasing the first installment of the housing aid from Singati of Dolakha. 

According to the DDMC, as many as 65,000 households of Gorkha were affected by the earthquake. 

A government official said that the quake survivors are extremely worried that they might have to spend one more monsoon under the flimsy structures. 

Published: 15-04-2016 08:06

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