Much delayed reconstruction

  • Now that rebuilding houses is finally under way, there’s much the NRA should focus on

Feb 20, 2017-

After several complications and delays, the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) started distributing the second tranche of funds for building homes damaged or destroyed by the earthquakes last month. 

It appears that the process is moving relatively smoothly. Many people who had completed building a section of their houses using the first tranche of funds, consisting of Rs50,000 per family, had been facing difficulties. Now that they have received the second tranche consisting of Rs150,000, they have been able to continue rebuilding their houses. Evidence shows that most people rebuilding their houses are doing so in line with the NRA guidelines. We hope that this will make their homes more resistant to earthquakes that might strike in the future.

Many people with damaged or destroyed houses did not wait for government funds to start rebuilding their houses. They used their own resources to do so. Thousands of people have by now completed rebuilding their homes. Such people were worried that the government would not compensate them for their loss. 

However, the government has now decided to make a lump sum payment of Rs300,000 to each family that rebuilt their homes without waiting for 

government assistance. This is a positive development. According to NRA estimates, this includes more than 40,000 households.

Had the government decided not to compensate such households, it would have been as though people were being penalised for taking the initiative and rebuilding their own homes without immediate earthquake assistance. This would have been manifestly unfair. The lump sum payment will offer significant relief to such families, and enable them to repay loans or use the funds in ways that will 

allow them to overcome the devastating effects of the earthquakes. 

Now that the process of rebuilding houses is well underway, it is time for the NRA to focus on other aspects of post-earthquake reconstruction. So far it has appeared that rebuilding damaged buildings is the only task of the NRA. But the effects of the earthquakes have been manifold, as documents from the NRA and the National Planning Commission themselves attest. 

Thousands of people remain socially and economically vulnerable even though they might now have homes. Thousands have fallen into debt traps, for example. Many lost agricultural stocks and implements in the earthquake, and have found it difficult to resume activities that would enable them to generate a living. Education and health services have recovered substantially, but they still need additional attention. Many earthquake victims feel that the government is unresponsive to their basic needs and do not know how they can communicate with the authorities. The government needs to formulate plans and policies that take such aspects into consideration. 

Published: 20-02-2017 08:27

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