Dolakha, April 24
Though the monsoon is all set to kick in, Hira Pande of Kalinchowk Rural Municipality, Dolakha, has not re-built his home. Pande doubted that he will be able to construct it before the monsoon.
“I received Rs 50,000 in the first instalment, but it was all spent on my everyday expenses,” said the father of three, who is staying at a shelter made of zinc sheets.
Sita Khatri, another victim from same village, wonders if she cand finish constructing her home before this monsoon. “My husband is abroad and it is impossible to build a hoose on my own,” Khatri said, adding that she is likely to start construction once her husband returns.
Life without a permanent shelter has not been easy for Khatri and many others who have been living in temporary shelters since the earthquakes of 2015. “There are times when strong winds blow away our roofs, and we have to go searching for them in the dark at night,” Khatri explained what life was like without a home.
As per the National Reconstruction Authority, around 2,900 victims had constructed their home in the district well before the NRA even came into being. The number of homes constructed after the NRA was founded stands somewhere near 3,000.
As per NRA’s data, only 17 per cent of the victims have built their homes so far in the district.
According to NRA’s Dolakha Secretariat Chief Sagar Acharya, a total of 51,940 households have been listed as beneficiaries of the government housing grant in Dolakha.
Of them, 46,129 households have received the first instalment of the grant. But only 5,000 victims are building houses now.
“Regarding the second instalment, only 1,243 victims have received Rs 150,000 and only 159 victims have availed themselves of the third instalment,” Acharya said, adding that there is a drop in the number of the victims receiving successive instalments of the state grant.
Locals say they have halted construction due to lack of materials. “How can we construct anything if materials like sand and gravel are scarce and the price of other building materials such as steel and cement go up?” Tirtha Bahadur KC, a local, asked.
Tamakoshi Road Dhunga Uddhog and Suppliers Chief Suresh Upreti said that there is high demand for construction materials.
“As everyone is building homes, the demand for sand and gravel has gone up by 20 times. Hence, there is a shortage of materials,” Upreti clarified.
“Besides the shortage of construction materials, there are very few trained to construct the houses. This has also dragged the construction efforts,” Nim Tshering Sherpa of Bigu Rural Municipality, said.
According to the NRA, there are just around 8,000 trained masons in the district.
“I want to start building my home right away, but there is no way I can do it given the lack of manpower,” Padam Pathak of Lamidanda said.
A version of this article appears in print on April 25, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.