Kathmandu, December 8
The Department of Roads (DoR) is yet to start the reconstruction of bridges that were damaged by the floods and landslides triggered by the heavy monsoon rains in July and August this year across the country. The floods and landslides had affected 15 bridges on the major highways across the country.
Due to the delay by the Ministry of Finance (MoF) in allocating the budget, the DoR is being unable to take any concrete steps regarding the reconstruction of the damaged bridges. The DoR has already requested the MoF for the budget on two occasions, however the Finance Ministry has not yet allocated any budget to reconstruct the damaged infrastructure.
Initially, DoR had requested the MoF for a budget to reconstruct the bridges on August 22. Based on the preliminary report of the losses, the DoR had written a letter seeking
Rs 420 million to repair the bridges temporarily.
Meanwhile, based on the final report of the losses due to the floods and landslides DoR had written a letter to the MoF seeking Rs four billion for reconstruction of the affected infrastructure. “We have already requested the finance ministry for the budget to reconstruct the damaged bridges across the country but the MoF has not yet released any amount,” a high-level source at DoR said, seeking anonymity.
The DoR is planning to send another letter to MoF seeking the budget to begin the reconstruction. “A lot of time has already elapsed and if the MoF further delays in releasing the budget then we will not be able to reconstruct the damaged bridges within this fiscal year,” the source informed.
Different ministries have requested for budget to start reconstruction works of the infrastructure that were damaged by the floods and landslides, however the MoF has not taken any decision regarding the proposals made by the ministries.
One of the joint secretaries at MoF informed that because of resource constraints the MoF is yet to make a decision to allocate the budget. “Revenue collection has not been satisfactory and in the meanwhile the government has spent around Rs 25 billion for the elections. Due to these issues the MoF is facing constraints of resources,” the joint secretary informed, seeking anonymity. “So, we cannot make any decision regarding the reconstruction of the damaged infrastructure.”
According to Mukti Gautam, spokesperson for DoR, the damaged bridges and some roads have been temporarily repaired, however if permanent repair works are not
carried out then vehicular movement will be affected in the coming monsoon. “Some bridges and road sections need to be repaired as early as possible, however we don’t have the budget to do so,” he stated.
Initially, the Finance Ministry had said that it would release the budget to reconstruct the damaged infrastructure and distribute compensation to the affected people
after it receives the Post Disaster Needs Assessment report prepared by the National Planning Commission (NPC). However, it has been over a month now since the NPC published the Post Flood Recovery Needs Assessment report but MoF is yet to take any decision.
As per the report published by NPC, the government needs Rs 73 billion for reconstruction of damaged infrastructure and restoration of livelihoods affected by the floods and landslides.
Along with the DoR, the Department of Irrigation, Ministry of Agricultural Development and the Ministry of Livestock Development have requested for a budget for reconstruction of infrastructure and restoration of livelihoods across the country.
Major bridges affected by the floods
A version of this article appears in print on December 09, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.
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