More funds sought for disaster mitigation

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, March 26:

Experts today pointed out that no matter how much the state spends on development infrastructure, the expenditure goes in vain as it closes its eyes to possible damage by natural disasters.They said that some extra cash should be doled out on disaster mitigation technologies when the government envisages giant construction like bridges, hospitals and schools. But, they said, such a tendency has not even been introduced.

As a result, though the government goes on spending billions of rupees on infrastructure each year, this can be turned to dust within 10 seconds if calamities like a huge earthquake strikes.

"You can spend billions but if you act like a miser on protecting the construction from disasters, not only the money spent on the construction will be useless, but the state will have to bear extra expenses due to the damage to the national economy," said the secretary of National Society for Earthquake Technology-Nepal (NSET-Nepal), Dr Amod Mani Dixit.

He said disaster and development are interrelated and the former would be meaningless if the latter is not included in the process. Dixit added the government has not even traced the indirect loss to the country due to these disasters. "We only have the tradition of counting dead bodies and how much money we lost due to collapse of the house and so on. The physical loss of property and life would mean a lot more than what we see at the site. The indirect loss could be three to 10 times higher. This should be counted in order to measure the total horror of the disaster," he said.Disasters like earthquake is not a new thing to Nepal, which lies in a high seismic zone. But the reality is that the government has not even implemented recommendations of a report submitted to the government after the 1988 earthquake, according to Dixit.

The small amount invested in pre-disaster phase could be equivalent to saving a giant budget that the state would otherwise have to spend after the disaster.