PM pledges Rs 3 lakh for each quake-hit household

A total of 288,960 beneficiaries have received the first instalment of government’s aid of Rs 50,000 in their bank accounts so far

Kathmandu, September 5

The government is preparing to raise the amount of housing reconstruction grant for individual households to Rs 3 lakh from Rs 2 lakh pledged earlier.

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has committed to raising the grant amount by Rs 1 lakh considering the financial hardships facing quake survivors in reconstructing their houses and stated that a decision in this regard will be taken shortly.

Speaking during the meeting of the Development Committee of the Legislature-Parliament, the PM added that the governments would also make arrangements for hassle-free subsidised credit facility so that those affected by the last year’s temblors can rebuild their homes by adopting earthquake-resilient technology.

The parliamentarians, however, did not seem impressed by the prime minister’s commitment, as they reminded him of his earlier pledge.

Previously, while criticising the snail-paced progress in post-quake reconstruction activities during the KP Sharma Oli-led government, Dahal had vowed that he would provide grant of Rs 5 lakh to the earthquake-affected households to reconstruct their houses if he became the prime minister.

“Despite the resource constraints, we are raising the grant amount for the quake survivors by another Rs 1 lakh,” PM Dahal said, reiterating his pledge to also ensure subsidised credit facility for the eligible beneficiaries and expressed full commitment to expedite reconstruction activities.

To fulfil the prime minister’s commitment, it is estimated that the government would require an additional Rs 80 billion for the house reconstruction grant.

This is because while the beneficiary survey commissioned by the National Reconstruction Authority has identified 531,937 households as being eligible for the government’s aid in severely affected 11 districts outside the Kathmandu Valley, the final number of beneficiary households is expected to hover at around eight lakh.

It has to be noted that over one lakh households have lodged complaints against NRA stating they had been left out during the beneficiary survey in the 11 quake-hit districts. Moreover, the survey being carried out in Kathmandu Valley and the study that needs to be carried out in other 17 less-affected districts will further increase the number of beneficiary households eligible for the government’s aid.

In a bid to quell doubts of parliamentarians, PM Dahal also drew their attention to the fact that the first Cabinet meeting of his government had decided to conclude distribution of the first tranche of the government’s aid within 45 days, and that there has been significant progress in the last month.

According to NRA, a total of 288,960 beneficiaries have received the first instalment of government’s aid of Rs 50,000 in their bank accounts so far and grant agreements with local bodies have been carried out under the supervision of NRA that would benefit four lakh households. Distribution of the first instalment in the hardest-hit Gorkha and Okhaldunga districts is almost over.

After distribution of the first instalment, NRA will focus on resolving the complaints filed by the quake-affected households in the 11 districts outside the Valley.

During today’s meeting, Prime Minister Dahal also informed the House panel that the government is holding discussions with the development partners to lessen the number of instalments for grant distribution for the benefit of affected households.

At present, the NRA has made a provision of three instalments — 25, 40 and 35 per cent — for housing grant distribution in consultation with development partners.