Kathmandu, June 10
Parliamentarians of the Nepali Congress (NC) today summoned the chief executive of the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) after growing number of quake survivors complained even those eligible for housing grant of Rs 200,000 were deliberately barred from fetching the first instalment of the amount because of their political affiliation.
“We have received complaints that surveyors, who were mobilised to scout for grant beneficiaries, discriminated against many earthquake survivors based on their political affiliation. We wanted to listen to what NRA CEO (Sushil Gyewali) had to say about it. That’s why we called him,” senior NC leader and former finance minister Ram Sharan Mahat told The Himalayan Times. “We also called him to query about the slow progress made by NRA in relocating earthquake survivors from temporary to permanent shelters, and other complaints filed by quake survivors.”
Although the survey to trace actual beneficiaries of housing grant was conducted under coordination of the Central Bureau of Statistics, the NRA had handed over the task of mobilising surveyors to an NGO called HARD.
“Those who filed complaints said this NGO discriminated against earthquake survivors during identification of grant beneficiaries. Also, other officials appointed on the basis of their political affiliation are said to have expressed prejudiced behaviour during beneficiary selection process,” Mahat said.
Earlier, the NRA said it has received over 28,000 complaints stating surveyors excluded their names from the list of grant beneficiaries. “Investigations are being made to confirm claims made by these people,” an NRA statement issued yesterday said.
The NRA is extending a grant of Rs 200,000 to every family whose house was destroyed by quakes of last year. This grant is being distributed in three instalments of Rs 50,000, Rs 80,000 and Rs 70,000.
Although the NRA had started the process of distributing the first instalment of the grant on March 13, it has not been able to extend the amount to even one per cent of the total beneficiaries.
The NRA has not been able to expedite grant distribution process to quake survivors — who are still spending days and nights in temporary shelters — because it failed to make timely arrangements to distribute the funds through the banking channel.
Its attempt to make use of the banking channel to distribute the grant bore fruit on May 27, when it entered into agreements with umbrella organisations of commercial banks, development banks and finance companies. Based on these agreements, the NRA later signed 53 agreements with individual banks and financial institutions, says the statement.
These banks are now being mobilised to extend first instalment of the grant amount to 171,677 households in 11 districts. The quakes of April 25 and May 12 last year completely destroyed over 500,000 houses in various parts of country.
A version of this article appears in print on June 11, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.