Ramechhap, April 8
The post-earthquake reconstruction drive in Ramechhap district has hit a low point, as forest officials are not offering timber, which is used widely for building houses, at the subsidised rate promised by the government.
“Building a house using timber would reduce our cost, but what alternatives do we have if they say there is no timber? In my case, I didn’t even know anything about the government’s announcement to provide us timber at concessional rates,” Ramkaji Shrestha, an earthquake victim of Khandadevi rural municipality-5, said.
Shrestha said that some of the victims were using expensive steel and cement as they had no other option.
As per the government data, around 4,000 homes are being reconstructed in the district.
Locals say not a single victim has got the government-pledged timber to construct their houses.
Quake victim Syamlal Sunuwar of Himganga said he could not build his house just because there was no timber.
Forest officials defended themselves saying that there is not enough timber to offer at concessional rates.
It is estimated that around 5 lakh cubic feet of timber is required for the reconstruction drive in the district.
“Of the required quantity, we can only harvest about 1.5 lakh cubit feet from private and community forests. The rest of the timber should be imported from elsewhere,” said District Forest Office Chief Ram Bichari Thakur.
Thakur also said that the there was a lack of fund to import timber from outside districts.
“We have heard that the Udayapur forest office has 10,000 cubic feet of timber that it can sell to this district, but as the concerned department has not sent us any fund for the purchase and transportation of such timber, we are helpless,” he said. “As the amount of timber is much less than the amount that we require anyway, we are yet to hold any discussion about whether to bring the timber,” Thakur informed.
A version of this article appears in print on April 09, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.