Quake victims to be hit hard again this monsoon

Kathmandu, June 14

After living in the makeshift shelters for over a year, majority of quake survivors who lost their homes to the devastating quakes of last year may have to prepare themselves to survive the ordeal for longer still. This is because the slow grant distribution by the government has poured cold water on their plans to rebuild their houses before the onset of the rainy season this year.

The government has distributed the first tranche of grant worth Rs 50,000 to only 0.42 per cent of beneficiaries as of Sunday, since the distribution started three months back.

From among the 473,012 beneficiaries, the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) has signed grant agreement with 74,481 households and the first instalment has been distributed to only 2,004 beneficiaries.

Grant distribution was started from March 13 — nearly 11 months after the devastating earthquake —for the first time from worst-hit Dolakha district. As of Sunday, only 1,237 beneficiaries have received the grant amount out of the 51,749 beneficiaries in Dolakha district alone.

As per Central Project Implementation Unit (CPIU) under the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development, 765 beneficiaries in Gorkha and two in Sindhupalchowk district have received Rs 50,000 to start reconstructing their houses.

The NRA has managed to distribute grant amount through banks and financial institutions (BFIs). Based on the beneficiaries list published by the District Development Committee Offices in the quake-hit 11 districts, the concerned BFIs open accounts of beneficiaries of respective areas. The grant amount mobilised through CPIU will be deposited in the accounts of the beneficiaries, explained Ram Prasad Thapaliya, spokesperson for NRA.

The government, immediately after the devastating earthquake last year, had decided to allocate aid worth Rs 200,000 to the victims for reconstruction of houses. It took over 11 months to complete procedural stipulations and start distributing the grant. However, the grant distribution process has been very slow.

Thapaliya further said that NRA has expedited the process of signing grant agreement with concerned households, released grant amount to the CPIU, and managed grant distribution from banking channels so that beneficiaries will be able to receive aid at the earliest for reconstruction of their houses, which is the primary need of the people.

Rabindra Adhikari, chair of the Development Committee of the Legislature-Parliament, said that the NRA and CPIU need to sort out the hassles that have been causing the delays at the earliest. At this pace, it will take years just to release grant amount to the victims.

Simultaneously, the NRA and CPIU have also formed a mechanism to monitor the house reconstruction to release further tranche of grant amount. Delays in releasing first instalment could cause further delays to release the other instalments.

NRA has commissioned beneficiary survey only in 11 districts, excluding the Kathmandu Valley.