Govt preparing to show NRA chief door?

  • Rift between Dahal, Gyewali has widened of late
- John Narayan Parajuli, Kathmandu

Nov 18, 2016-

The rift between the prime minister and chief executive officer (CEO) of the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) appears to be growing over perception that the NRA head is defying the government instructions. This, officials say, is the reason behind massive delays in distribution of housing aid. 

There appears to be a feeling within Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s team that NRA CEO Sushil Gyewali has subtly defied instructions given by the PM on the pretext of legal hurdles and donor sensitivity.

One example that senior officials have shared is: the PM’s instruction to Gyewali to adopt flexibility in providing housing aid to those whose houses were destroyed by the earthquakes last year has not been followed citing lack of land ownership certificate. 

“What the PM wanted was grants to these quake victims, provided that a certain percentage of neighbours vouched for the residents in the locality that they should get the aid,” said PM Dahal’s Chief Political Adviser Chakrapani Khanal. “The NRA could have made that threshold 80 percent of the neighbours.” 

“The government cannot go and build each house, but the least it could do is adopt flexibility in releasing the funds,” he added. 

According to data compiled by the NRA, over 80,000 households have not signed housing aid agreement for various reasons in 11 of the 14 worst affected districts. Among them, 30,000 families either lack land ownership certificates or have their homes in risk-prone areas. 

 But Gyewali has cited donor guidelines to ignore PM’s instruction, according to Khanal. “He should have taken that [PM’s instruction] seriously.”  

CEO Gyewali couldn’t be reached for comments. 

Officials at the Prime Minister’s Office also term Gyewali’s working style incompatible with the requirement of a huge undertaking like post-disaster reconstruction that demands a proactive approach. One official described him as a person who is heavy on bureaucratic formalities and “less of an action man”. 

There is also disappointment over Gyewali’s inability to take charge and get the job done. En masse resignation of engineers over lack of financial incentives is an example, they say. 

Around 1,400 engineers have been deployed in villages to assist the reconstruction process. So far 220 engineers mobilised have resigned and the number is expected to increase in coming days as the NRA has failed to implement its earlier decision to provide incentives as demanded by the engineers, according to Shiva Hari Sharma, joint secretary at the Ministry of Urban Development.

 Recently on Tuesday, PM Dahal had sought details from Gyewali about the distribution of housing reconstruction and the delays. 

Of late, speculations are rife that the Dahal government is planning to remove Gyewali. 

Leaders of the CPN (Maoist Centre) say the Nepali Congress has been putting pressure on the government to relieve Gyewali of his duties. 

“The Congress wants NRA leadership in exchange for National Planning Commission leadership to the Maoist party,” said a Maoist leader. 

Published: 18-11-2016 07:50

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