NRA proposes land grant for quake-hit squatters

- Manish Gautam, Kathmandu
Beneficiaries will have to leave original settlements and buy pieces of land in safer areas to rebuild

Feb 27, 2017-Amid the dilemma over how to disburse housing reconstruction funds to the landless people, the National Reconstruction Authority on Sunday proposed a lump sum of Rs100,000 to help families occupying forest land and public spaces purchase land for building homes.

The proposal, floated at a meeting of the concerned government agencies chaired by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal in Singha Durbar, will apply to those families who were squatters when the earthquake hit the country in 2015. The grants will be provided on condition that the beneficiaries will leave their original settlements and buy pieces of land in safer areas.

For long, the NRA was indecisive about assisting the squatters occupying government property in rebuilding their houses damaged or destroyed in the April 25 earthquake. In the absence of land ownership certificates, the authority has been unable to issue the reconstruction grants.

Govinda Raj Pokhrel, chief executive officer of the NRA, proposed at the meeting that the families sheltered in public land and buildings, whose members do not own property elsewhere, would be eligible to the sum.

The NRA will also promote voluntary relocation of settlements for at least 10 households. In doing so, the households would also be granted Rs100,000 each to move to safer geographical locations from the seismic point of view.

“For households that do not want to leave their original settlement, we will undertake reconstruction on their behalf,” said CEO Pokhrel. “However, this is just a preliminary discussion held with various government agencies. The finance minister has agreed to come up with an action plan within a week.”

Regarding the concessional loan, the NRA has urged the Nepal Rastra Bank to define the earthquake-his as deprived people. After their classification as suggested, people can avail of loans up to Rs300,000.

The NRA has proposed five criteria for people to be eligible for the loans, including listing of households as affected ones and mortgaging of the under-construction house for accessing loans.

Also, people should submit their financial statements for taking a loan.

Those failing to repay the loan in the specified period of time would be blacklisted for government services. Central bank Governor Chiranjibi Nepal is said to have expressed his commitment to expediting works on issuing concessional loans.

CEO Pokhrel cited preliminary reports to say that at least 50,000 households are yet to receive the first instalment of the Rs50,000 grant. “Among them at least 10,000 households do not have their own land or have issues with their documents,” he said. “This will also encourage people to opt for integrated settlements in areas deemed vulnerable.”

According to government data, there are at least 1,100 houses built on vulnerable land, which need immediate relocation.

Published: 27-02-2017 07:48

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