Expert wants regulation on disaster relief formulated

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, April 13:

Nepal is yet to formulate Natural Relief Regulations to define the specific role of line agencies working in the field of disaster management though the Natural Disaster Relief Act had been enacted in 1982.

Experts and officials point out the need of clearly defined guidelines to streamline the disaster relief measures.

"It is now essential to formulate the regulation," said Lekhanth Pokhrel of Home Ministry, in his paper entitled, "Legal Provisions and Challenges in Disaster Management in Nepal". There is no clear-cut job description of the various disaster management agencies in the Act. Experts argue that a well-defined and specified role, function and responsibility will help to stop the tendency of passing the buck among the related agencies during the time of crisis.

"The regulation should clearly define the role of every related institution and eliminate confusions," he said.

Pokhrel also sees the need to amend and rewrite some of the sections of the Act. "Nothing has been mentioned regarding the types of facilities to be provided to the people of disaster-hit areas though the Act has a provision to declare a disaster area for a specified period," he said.

The Act should clearly spell whether the victims will get reimbursement of their loss or they will get a loan or whether the land revenue or bank interest will be written off. Similarly, whether the victims are entitled to benefit from facilities like the distribution of free seedling, medicines and medical facility, free housing or price subsidy, need to be clearly defined, he said.

Pokharel also stressed the need to include Ministry of Local Development, Agriculture, Education and Armed Police Force in the Central Disaster Relief Committee. "There is also a need to reflect the disaster management component in the development plan and programme of the concerned agencies." he said Some other pre-conditions to improve the disaster management, according to Pokhrel, include cooperation and coordination among the related institution, frequent dialogue and mutual understanding, sufficient resources, establishment of disaster information centre, among others.