House passes reconstruction authority bill

Kathmandu, December 16

The Legislature-Parliament today unanimously passed the Bill on Reconstruction of Earthquake Affected Structures, clearing the way for setting up an authority to reconstruct the structures damaged by the temblor of April 25 and its aftershocks.

Following the passage of the bill, the government is preparing to set up reconstruction authority nearly eight months after the temblor and its aftershocks killed around 9,000 people and damaged properties worth billions.

Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Agni Prasad Kharel said the government would set up the authority without any delay.

Before putting the bill to vote, lawmakers of the United Democratic Madhesi Front, however, boycotted the House meeting objecting to the tabling of the Bill on First Amendment of Constitution of Nepal together with the reconstruction bill without their consent.

Speaking in the House before walking out of the meeting, Sadbhawana Party leader Laxman Lal Karna said the front had already decided to allow passage of the reconstruction bill without taking part in the voting.

Alleging that the parliamentary norms were breached, as the bills were tabled yesterday amid obstruction from UDMF, he warned that the protesting parties would be compelled to quit the House if the ruling parties did not correct their move.

Karna accused the Speaker of ignoring the fringe parties and listening to the voice of only bigger parties.

“The Madhesi parties returned to the Parliament to resolve the ongoing Tarai crisis and responded to the call for talks positively.

However, the government has not been serious about our concerns,” Karna said.

Although both the bills were registered at the House two months ago by the previous Nepali Congress-led government, they were tabled only yesterday due to rift between the NC and CPN-UML.

Before endorsing the reconstruction bill today, NC lawmaker Nabindra Raj Joshi blamed CPN-UML and Unified CPN-Maoist for delaying the passage of the bill. “The NC-led government had registered the bill two months ago at the Parliament after forging consensus among three major parties.

However, the two parties registered dozens of amendment proposals against the bill to serve their partisan interests.

Had they not taken that move, the bill would have been passed two months ago, clearing the way for the reconstruction works,” Joshi said.

Some Madhesi lawmakers, including Dimpal Kumari Jha of Sanghiya Sadbhawana Party and Rukmini Chaudhari of Sanghiya Loktantrik Rastriya Manch (Tharuhat) went to the well of the House and sat on the floor, objecting to tabling of bill on constitution amendment without listening to the concerns of the agitating parties.

Speaker Onsari Gharti Magar has scheduled the next meeting of the Parliament for Friday to begin the process of tabling the constitution amendment bill.