Quake-hit Nepal formally begins reconstruction

KATHMANDU: Nepal on Saturday formally began the mega reconstruction campaign nearly nine months after the devastating earthquake on April 25 last year.

At a special function organised at Rani Pokhari of Kathmandu, President Bidya Devi Bhandari formally inaugurated the campaign amid the presence of Vice-President Nanda Bahadur Pun, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, Deputy Prime Ministers, former Prime Ministers, ministers, top government officials and representatives of the international community.

The government had chosen today to inaugurate the campaign coinciding with the 18th Earthquake Safety Day.

Nepal since 1999 has been observing Magh 2 of every year as per the Nepali calendar as the National Earthquake Safety Day to call to mind the mega-earthquake of January 16, 1934, which was the greatest earthquake Nepal has faced so far since the tremors were recorded.

While President Bhandari launched the reconstruction work of Rani Pokhari amid a special function at 11:56am on Saturday, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli would release the Reconstruction Masterplan of Bungmati Area at Karyabinayak Municipality, Lalitpur, the same day at 4:00pm.

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, Deputy Prime Ministers Bijay Kumar Gachhadar and Kamal Thapa, former Prime Ministers Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Sushil Koirala, National Reconstruction Authority Chief Executive Officer Sushil Gyawali, United Nations Development Programme representative to Nepal Renaud Meyer among others had addressed the function at Rani Pokhari.

They had stressed need of joint efforts from government and non-government agencies, international donors, political parties and members of the public to reconstruct the nation in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake.

Home Minister Shakti Bahadur Basnet had chaired the function.

The reconstruction campaign began so late as there was delay in the passage of the Bill on Reconstruction of Earthquake Affected Structures by Parliament owing to disagreements over the issue among major political parties.

The National Reconstruction Authority said that the Central Bureau of Statistics has already started surveying the damage caused by the quake in Dolakha and Rasuwa as part of channelling donations provided by various donors to reconstruct damaged structures.

Likewise, the Authority has started providing formal and informal training on reconstruction work at the local level.

Secretariats will be established after forming district coordination committee in each quake-hit district to help with the reconstruction work, the Authority officials said.

Precisely 8,891 people were killed in the earthquake while 22,200 were affected in the magnitude-7.6 earthquake and its aftershocks.

Likewise, 608,155 houses were completely damaged and 298,998 houses and sheds were partially damaged by the temblor. Similarly, 2,687 government buildings including schools, hospitals and health posts were completely damaged while 3,776 had suffered partial damage.