Relief operations almost over: Govt

KATHMANDU: The relief operations launched after the devastating April 25 earthquake is coming to an end and the government has decided to shift its focus toward reconstruction and recovery work.

Security forces deployed for rescue and relief operation have started returning to their barracks and regular duty, while the government is thinking of announcing that the relief phase is over, officials said.

Home Secretary Surya Silwal told The Himalayan Times that the government was about to wrap up relief distribution activities, excluding in some remote parts of a few of the 14 worst-affected districts.

“Relief operation is almost over. It is still on only in a few remote locations,” Secretary Silwal stated. “It cannot go on indefinitely. We will announce its closure soon.” Officials claimed it would be formally wrapped up within a week.

The government had shifted its focus to relief operations once it completed the phase-first search and rescue operations on May 4.

Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) officials said the concerned District Natural Disaster Relief Committee (DNDRC) headed by Chief District Officers (CDOs)

have been asked to report where the relief operations were over and where they are still needed.

MoHA Spokesperson Laxmi Prasad Dhakal said District Administration Offices have stopped distributing food, shelter and other materials as relief in most of the affected districts. Security forces have also started reporting for their regular duty.

Nepali Army, which had led relief operations under the purview of Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) — along with other security agencies, foreigners and volunteers — said its service personnel were being returned to the barracks as normalcy had gradually returned in the affected areas.

At least 132,510 security forces, including 66,069 soldiers, 44,629 Nepali Police and 21,812 Armed Police Force personnel as well as 4,316 foreign forces were deployed across the country for search, rescue and relief operations after the earthquakes.

The national force also decided to grant leave to its quake-affected service personnel to resolve their own problems. Earlier, NA personnel were not allowed to take leave as the rescue, relief operation was still on in various parts of the country.

However, Nepali Army stated it would be carrying out demolition work across the country under its signature “Operation Sankatmochan” programme until mid-July as mandated by the government because many damaged structures were still posing threat to human lives.

Secretary Silwal stated that distribution of relief amount in some places had been halted mainly due to over claims and tendency to inflate the number of destroyed homes to claim relief amount.

The government has announced Rs 200,000 to each family whose house was destroyed, and Rs 15,000 which is being distributed to make temporary shelters before the monsoon begins.