Nepal | December 06, 2019

Less than 48pc relief, rescue fund spent

Rajan Pokhrel

Money released
•    Released by PM Relief Fund: Rs 12 billion
•    Released by Home Ministry: Rs 8.73 billion
•    Distributed in 60 districts: Rs 3.53 billion
Spending details
•    Construction of temporary shelters: Rs 2.52 billion
•    Relief amount given to the families of deceased: Rs 604 million
•    Additional relief for damaged houses: Rs 372 million

Makeshift tents are seen in quake-devastated Laprak of Gorkha on Friday. Laprak locals are worried about permanent structures to live in, with monsoon just round the corner. Photo: RSS

Makeshift tents are seen in quake-devastated Laprak of Gorkha on Friday. Laprak locals are worried about permanent structures to live in, with monsoon just round the corner. Photo: RSS

KATHMANDU: Eight weeks have already passed since the devastating earthquake flattened several villages across the country killing more than 8,800 persons but the government has been able to channelise less than 48 per cent of the total relief and rescue fund to the grassroots level.

Under Secretary at the Office of the Prime Minister Laxman Prasad Khanal told THT that prime minister-led Central Disaster Relief Fund had released Rs 12 billion to the Ministry Of Home Affairs, tasked with coordinating rescue and relief operations across the quake-hit areas.

Records of financial administration section of the home ministry show since April 26 it has released Rs 8.7 billion for a few ministries and earthquake-hit districts to provide immediate relief to the affected people. “More than Rs 7.3 billion has been released to the district disaster relief committees in 60 districts,” it said, adding that the security bodies and ministries, including urban development, agriculture and cooperatives, foreign affairs, transport and physical planning, commerce and supplies, industry, as well as health and population, were given Rs 1.37 billion.

But National Emergency Operation Centre of the home ministry said only Rs 3.5 billion had been made accessible to the local levels by DDRCs. “NEOC has already asked the concerned districts and other government agencies to furnish details of expenses to the ministry as early as possible,” Under Secretary Baburam Bhandari said, claiming that most of the affected families, however, received immediate relief from the district authorities. According to a financial statement obtained by this daily, the home ministry released Rs 767 million for Sindhupalchowk, Rs 695 million for Nuwakot, Rs 613 million for Kathmandu, Rs 600 million for Dolakha, Rs 578 million for Kavre, Rs 519 million for Dhading, Rs 480 million for Gorkha, Rs 302 million for Ramechhap, Rs 267 million for Lalitpur, Rs 243 million for Sindhuli and Rs 230 million for Rasuwa, among other districts, from the central fund.

Most of the districts failed to channelise more than half of the amount they received, for several reasons, it further discloses.

“From ministries to VDCs, the government mechanisms have been found to be very slow in spending quake relief fund meant for immediate relief, as well as management of temporary shelter, to the affected communities,” an official at MoHA admitted.

Lack of local body representatives has resulted in delay in identifying the needy people in the affected areas, while a populist decision made by the government to handover cash to the victims’ kin for their resettlement has also worsened the situation in villages.

Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development had also released Rs 452 million through its donors-funded Local Governance and Community Development Programme to provide drinking water, Jeevanjal and first aid, temporary shelter, temporary toilets and sanitation, as well as food, for a maximum of seven days in 12 districts. “Though it was supposed to be spent by May 30, MoFALD has no further updates from the ground whether that fund helped the needy on time,” an under-secretary revealed. Similarly the Ministry of Urban Development is not in a position to justify how joint secretaries-led teams with an additional fund of Rs 140 million helped affected villagers on drinking water and sanitation management immediately after the earthquakes.

 


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