NRA move to involve local reps backfires

  • Leaders demanding more role, populist programmes
- SANJEEV GIRI, Kathmandu

Nov 24, 2017-

The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA)’s decision to mobilise recently elected local representatives in the ongoing reconstruction drive seems to have backfired with leaders seeking more role and demanding “populist programmes” that could swing votes in the federal parliament and provincial assembly elections.

The first phase of the federal parliament and provincial assembly elections will be held in 32 mountainous districts on Sunday. The second phase polls will be held in 45 districts on December 7. 

Officials at the authority said the move was aimed at expediting the process of reconstructing private houses and other infrastructure damaged by the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake. Besides, the decision was taken following calls from local level leaders for developing a guideline to involve them in the process. Things, however, seem to have gone awry as local representatives in most of the quake-affected districts are inclined at working in such a way that it helps them strengthen their vote bank. 

“We have resisted a number of proposals floated by local representatives,” a senior NRA official said, adding that many of them have been demanding that the grant provided by the NRA for reconstruction of private houses be channelised through them. 

In a bid to support quake impacted households, the government has decided to provide Rs 200,000 to each household as building grant. The amount was later increased to Rs 300,000 to be paid in three installments--Rs 50,000, Rs 150,000 and Rs 100,000. 

According to the NRA official, the idea of distributing housing grant is not just related with building a home. It is about building back better and building a safe home but building a safe habitat, he said. “Our engineers check whether the houses that are being constructed are earthquake-resilient. If leaders are allowed to take the lead, there is a possibility that they could make it a tool to woo voters,” he added. 

The other major demand of local representatives is that engineers working at the local level be deployed under them. 

In a recent meeting of the stakeholders, where mayors and deputy mayors of some municipalities and chairmen of rural municipalities among others were present, local leaders were of the view that expanding their jurisdiction would create an environment for them expedite the reconstruction drive. The NRA, according to the official, objected to most of the issues, but decided to deploy a junior technician or an overseer in ever wards directly under chiefs of rural municipalities and municipalities. “We will have to wait and see whether it yields positive results,” he said. 

Meanwhile, the NRA has completed grant agreements for the reconstruction of private houses with 659,506 households. Of them, 642,181 households have received the first tranche of government support while 115,421 have received the second tranche as well. As many as 29,099 households have so far received the third tranche. 

In a bid to motivate quake survivors to expedite reconstruction, the authority has designated specific time for obtaining grant for the building private houses. As per the recently introduced provision, quake survivors of 31 districts must obtain the grant by mid-July. 

Published: 24-11-2017 08:06

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