Print Edition - 2016-09-06  |  News

Govt prepares to up housing grant

- Post Report, Kathmandu
PM Dahal reiterates government’s commitment to help the quake-affected by increasing the grant by an additional Rs100,000

Sep 6, 2016- The government is making final preparations to increase the private housing reconstruction grant from existing Rs200,000 to Rs300,000 to each household, along with an additional Rs200,000 as a soft loan to over 700,000 earthquake-affected households in 14 most-affected districts. 

Addressing the meeting of the Development Committee under the Legislature-Parliament on Monday, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal assured that the government is committed to help the quake-affected families to rebuild the damaged houses by increasing the housing grant by an additional Rs100,000. He also said the government would seek support from donors and development partners to fill the funding shortfall of around Rs80 billion for rebuilding. 
“I am serious about increasing the grant assistance. I will talk with donors and development partners for the additional funding for reconstruction,” Rabindra Adhikari, chairperson of the Development Committee, quoted PM Dahal as saying at a meeting to follow-up on the direction from the committee last Thursday to summon the prime minister to discuss over the delay in overall reconstruction activities. 
The parliamentary committee had decided to invite PM Dahal to discuss about the concerns of poor local governance, lack of trained human resources and funding gap to effectively reach out to the affected families. 
“There is already a funding gap in reconstruction. The government should immediately identify the funding sources to meet the need of providing an additional Rs100,000 as housing grant to each earthquake-affected household as expressed by Prime Minister Dahal,” says Adhikari. 
According to Adhikari, there is already a huge funding gap of Rs488 billion out of the total estimated cost of Rs838 billion for the post-earthquake recovery works in the country as per the five-year document on Post Disaster Need Assessment prepared by the National Planning Commission (NPC). Various donors have pledged to provide Rs350 billion for reconstruction out of total Rs838 billion estimates. 
“The committee directs the government and its line ministries, along with NRA and NPC to arrange an additional funding required providing Rs300,000 as housing grant to each affected household,” added Adhikari. 
During the same meeting on Monday, the concerned authorities have agreed to address the concerns of land ownership required for the grant assistance for squatters, landless families and those living in public and guthi land, and release the grant assistance to the true beneficiaries. 
The NRA has deposited the first tranche of the rebuilding aid amounting to Rs50,000 to 275,932 households--more than 50 percent of the total identified beneficiaries from 11 districts as of Monday. Similarly, 413,452 out of the total 533,182 households identified so far have signed a tripartite agreement for the rebuilding aid. 
“The signing of agreement and release of funds is moving positively in the recent days. It is a good sign,” says Adhikari. 
Following the Development Committee’s directive, the NRA has formed a Quick Response team to carry out field inspection of the progress being made on reconstruction works. Each NRA regional office has formed committees at local level chaired by secretaries of respective Village Development Committees to address the complaints filed by the affected families. 
The detailed damage assessment of quake-destroyed houses in Kathmandu Valley is under way. The authority has so far assessed 72,000 out of around 123,000 houses damaged by the earthquakes. The distribution of the first installment of the rebuilding aid to the affected households will start soon after the completion of the assessment, according to NRA Spokesperson Ram Prasad Thapaliya. Besides, the damage assessment and distribution of the reconstruction aid to the identified beneficiaries in 14-most affected districts, the NRA has also initiated the damage assessment in 17 remaining districts through the Central Bureau of Statistics. 
Presenting the progress report on reconstruction activities, NRA Chief Executive Sushil Gyewali shared that the government has released Rs10.24 billion to provide the first tranche of rebuilding aid to 200,472 households. Likewise, an additional Rs168 billion has been allocated for reconstruction this fiscal year. 

Published: 06-09-2016 08:29

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