EDITORIAL: Disaster relief

All the concerned stakeholders should chip in and stand united to deal with the current crisis which is possible if they set out to do so in earnest

It has been about eight months now after the deadly earthquake of April 25 and several strong aftershocks aftermath. Yet relief has yet to reach many of the earthquake victims. They still are living in makeshift shelters. They had suffered in the rainy season and things are getting from bad to worse in the chilly winter without warm clothing. That it is taking so long to provide the urgently needed relief to the victims is something the government and concerned agencies should be ashamed about. Without adequate food, shelter and drinking water the elderly and children in particular are suffering immensely and also lactating mothers. The funds provided by friendly countries are yet to reach those for whom they were meant for. Foul play is also suspected as there is no record of how they are being used.

Those responsible should be brought to book for the delay in providing relief for which they have no excuse. The relief works should have been completed by now and the earthquake victims should have been rehabilitated after carrying out the reconstruction works. The delay in appointing the CEO of the National Authority for Reconstruction because of the bickering between the two major parties namely the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML have cost the country dearly. It seems that the errant political parties are largely responsible for the current situation, and they are doing little to make amends. Now can we expect the relief works to conclude after the appointment of the new CEO of NAR? It is tragic for the nation that even during natural calamities the political parties are stuck to their partisan interests.

Adding fuel to fire, the long unrest in the Tarai has not helped in any manner to appease the people. The industries have been shut down or are working below capacity. The economic blockade has taken its toll resulting in the shortage of fuel, medicines and other essentials. Furthermore, most schools in the Tarai are closed and the young children are deprived of education which is their basic right. As a result, the academic calendar has gone haywire. After completing the necessary relief work, which is long overdue, we should be more focused on reconstruction works so that the victims of both the earthquakes and the unrest in the Tarai are rehabilitated and have access to decent shelter and food. Since Nepal is in the midst of a crisis seeing little movement of vehicles due to the scarcity of fuel and safety reasons it is getting to be increasingly difficult to ferry the foodstuffs and other essentials like cooking gas for the needy. Moreover, learning from experience it is essential to construct earthquake resistant houses. Political instability is being cited as the reason for this situation. So, on humanitarian grounds immediate measures have to be taken to effectively deal with the present predicament. The country is now in one of the most difficult phases which it has never experienced before. All the concerned stakeholders should chip in and stand united to deal with the current crisis which is possible if they set out to do so in earnest considering the massive scales of the disasters.

Just an excuse

The state-owned Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) officials have said as many as 530 transformers exploded in the past three months due to overload. The officials said that the transformers exploded as consumers switched to electric ovens or induction heaters to prepare food after they could not get cooking gas due to the blockade at the customs points. It has resulted in huge financial losses to the loss-making electricity supplier. The NEA, on the other hand, has increased the load-shedding time by 11 hours which means that the consumers have to live half of the time in the dark.

The NEA officials have attributed the over consumption of electricity during peak hours for the explosion of the transformers. This is an excuse to cover up irregularities plaguing the institution that does not have any immediate plan to reduce the load-shedding hours. In fact, most of the transformers procured by the NEA are of poor quality. It may

be recalled that the CIAA had last year taken action against top NEA officials for procuring sub-standard transformers from a Chinese company. Had there been a fair deal NEA and the consumers would not have faced a power crisis during the chilling winter.