PM’s claim to complete rebuilding projects in a year far from reality

  • Records at National Reconstruction Authority, which has plans for the next three years, show a huge funding gap
- BINOD GHIMIRE, Kathmandu

May 5, 2019-

On April 25, on the fourth anniversary of the 2015 devastating Gorkha Earthquake, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli took to Twitter to announce reconstruction of all the earthquake-ravaged structures will be completed within a year.

“... The reconstruction works we have initiated on a war footing will conclude in the next one year,” Oli tweeted.

But reports of the National Reconstruction Authority and its subordinate offices show Oli’s claim is nowhere close to the reality.

It will take at least two more years for the reconstruction of quake-destroyed structures to complete, according to the reports, if the needed budget is secured on time.

Four years after the disaster, there is still a shortfall of Rs629 billion, which is 67 percent of the total estimated cost by the Post-disaster Recovery Framework prepared by the reconstruction authority.

The total budget spent on the reconstruction drive will reach Rs309 billion by the end of the current fiscal year.

The reconstruction authority aims to mobilise Rs200 billion in the upcoming fiscal year from different sources, including around Rs160 billion from the government’s regular budget. The authority will still need an additional Rs429 billion as per the estimation, which will not be fulfilled in the new fiscal year that starts in July. This means the authority will have to wait for another fiscal year to close the funding gap.

Pitambar Ghimire, a spokesperson for the authority, said they are holding a meeting with the Finance Ministry on Sunday to discuss the reconstruction process.

“The gap that remains unmet in the upcoming fiscal year will be met from next fiscal year (2020/21),” he told the Post.

The reconstruction authority, formed in August 2015, has 16 months for its term to expire.

Ghimire said the reconstruction works that cannot be completed by August 2020 will be overseen by the respective line ministries.

“We believe the reconstruction of other structures except the heritage sites will be complete by the time the term of the authority expires,” Ghimire told the Post.

However, the planning of the Central Implementation Unit (Education), which looks after the reconstruction of school buildings, goes as far as fiscal year 2021/22—two years more than Oli’s claim.

The implementation unit, which has a funding gap of Rs27 billion, expects Rs11 billion in the upcoming fiscal year, Rs9 billion in the fiscal year 2020-21 and the last tranche of Rs7 billion in the fiscal year 2021-22 from the Ministry of Finance.

“We hope we can reach all the devastated schools by the end of next fiscal year. But construction will take time,” Im Narayan Shrestha, chief of the unit

told the media two weeks ago. “To complete all the reconstruction will take three more years.”

Officials at the reconstruction authority say plans are afoot to hand over the reconstruction works to respective ministries—schools to the Education Ministry for example—if all the structures are not rebuilt by August 2020.

Records at the authority show only 426,308 of the 825,439 private households eligible for the government grants have completed reconstruction.

Similarly, out of 1,197 quake-affected health institutions, 643 (54 percent) have been reconstructed, while 145 (12 percent) are under reconstruction.

As far as reconstruction of heritage sites in 11 severely affected districts is concerned, the authority has achieved just 59 percent progress in the past four years. It has achieved 56 percent progress in the reconstruction of buildings for security agencies, while 63 percent of the quake-damaged government buildings have been rebuilt so far.

Construction efforts of school buildings which suffered the highest loss after the private properties are not impressive either.

Out of 7,553 school buildings that required reconstruction, hardly 4,476 have been rebuilt so far, while 1,772 buildings are under construction.

The government is yet to plan the reconstruction of 910 school buildings, mainly for the lack of needed budget.

Published: 05-05-2019 09:59

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