Reconstruction authority to begin work today

Kathmandu, January 15

Around nine months after the April 25 earthquake that hit Nepal, killing nearly 9,000 people and injuring hundreds others, National Reconstruction Authority is set to start post-quake reconstruction work from tomorrow.

The day for starting the reconstruction work coincides with National Earthquake Safety Day being observed to mark the massive destruction caused by the devastating 1933 earthquake in Nepal.

There was delay in the passage of the reconstruction bill by Parliament due to disagreement over the issue among major political parties, prolonging the post-quake reconstruction work.

The authority said that the Central Bureau of Statistics has 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.

Authority Chief Executive Officer Sushil Gyawali said preparations were under way to begin the reconstruction work after completing the survey within one month.

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, authority officials said.

The authority will also form national reconstruction counselling council led by a member of Parliament in each electoral constituency in quake-affected districts, they said.

Reconstruction campaign will be launched in every village within a month.

The Authority will mobilise 500 engineers within the next 10 days and 1,500 more within a month in every village of earthquake-affected districts to conduct house damage survey.

Gyawali, who holds the view that earthquake-resistance houses and buildings cannot be built only by providing money to the people in the affected areas, has pointed out the need of public mobilisation as reconstruction works cannot move ahead without cooperation of the people.

“Only giving money wild not suffice. The people have to be taken into confidence to carry out the works. Ownership in the reconstruction should be established through public mobilisation. Only then, can we build earthquake-resistant structures,” he added.

The international community has pledged an assistance of Rs 410 billion including financial assistance and loan for reconstruction of structures damaged by the April 25 earthquake and the subsequent aftershocks as well as for new constructions.

The Authority has stated that a programme equivalent to Rs 300 billion is still awaited. Precisely 8,891 people were killed in the earthquake while 22,200 were affected.

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.

The Authority has a separate fund for reconstruction. It is stated that out of the amount the government has earmarked for reconstruction in the budget, programmes worth Rs 49 billion have already started at the ministry level.

Acting secretary of the Authority, Madhusudan Adhikari said that as per the reconstruction action plan,

President Bidhya Devi Bhandari will initiate the reconstruction campaign from Rani Pokhari while Prime Minister KP Oli will do so from the ancient settlement of Bungmati.