EDITORIAL: Let the Bill pass

The agitating parties should take the blame for the delay in passing the Bill without which nothing can be done for the reconstruction and rehabilitation work

Over seven months have elapsed since the massive destruction to life and property caused by the killer earthquake on April 25 and several strong shocks in its aftermath. Yet we still appear to be involved in the relief phase for the victims when we should have been in the rehabilitation and reconstruction state by now. The Bill related to the reconstruction authority has yet to be passed by the parliament. It is high time the reconstruction authority was revived. It is sorry to note that this has not been done due to the bickering of the two major political parties, the Nepal Congress and CPN-UML over the appointment of the Chief Executive Officer of the reconstruction authority. But their quarrels should not hold the task of reconstruction hostage. There is an urgent need to have a reconstruction authority at the earliest without any more hassles. Because of the delay in providing assistance to the quake victims in reconstruction and rehabilitation, many of them are still taking shelter in makeshift tarpaulin tents. So far the government has provided the victims with only Rs 15,000 as relief fund for one family when the government should be engaged in rehabilitation and reconstruction works.

One positive outcome after the deadly earthquakes was the zeal shown by the youths to provide immediate relief to the quake hit. The casualties were high in Nepal due to the lack of preparedness on the part of the government. In China and Japan the earthquake tolls are lower because of the drills they carry out. Meanwhile, the government of Nepal was late in delivering assistance to those hit by the quakes showing the lethargic manner in which it functions. It should be coordinating with its own agencies engaged in the reconstruction and rehabilitation work to avoid duplication of work which is happening. However, the earthquakes had united the Nepali people and helped in the promulgation of the new Constitution which had been held in a limbo for a protracted period. But the ongoing House obstruction has delayed the passage of the bill related to the reconstruction authority.

To add to the woes of the earthquake victims and all the Nepalese people India has been imposing a so-called unofficial blockade as a result of which fuel, medicines and other essentials are in short supply. Hopefully, the customs points would see business as usual and tankers carrying them would be able to enter the country without any obstruction. It is the Madhes-based parties who are obstructing the House proceedings over their demands further delaying the passage of the reconstruction Bill. They must let the House pass the crucial Bill so that the reconstruction work can be moved forward and the quake victims can move to their permanent shelters. This should be given the foremost priority. Despite being able to receive commitments of a sizable amount of loans and grants from donor countries this process is taking a long time. Moreover, only Rs. 17 billion out of the Rs. 91 billion set aside for the rehabilitation and reconstruction work has been used in seven months. The agitating parties should take the blame for the delay in passing the Bill without which nothing can be done for the reconstruction and rehabilitation work.

Useful plan

The Department of Education is reported to be planning to set up at least one technical school in each constituency, intending to start these schools from next academic session. This plan is indeed a good idea. Shaping young minds early on along the lines they want to pursue in the future will help avoid a waste of money and time which is involved in producing much of unemployable manpower, something that has been happening in the country till now. This plan is part of the government’s commitment to expand technical and vocational institutes to produce more technicians. The demand for various levels of technical expertise in so many areas is indeed very great in the country.

One of the major advantages of technical and vocational education is that the trained people can become self-employed and make their and their families’ financial conditions secure. At present, 99 schools in the country are providing technical education, and the first batch of students appeared in the SLC exams last year.