Given the gravity of the situation, it would be in everyone’s interest to engage in the rescue and relief operation and not bring politics in it

Nepal is no stranger to natural disasters, but the storm that whipped the villages of Bara and Parsa districts in central Nepal late Sunday evening was unprecedented, killing at least 29 people and injuring more than 600. Among the dead are men, women and children, who happened to be sleeping at the time. The death toll is likely to rise with many of the injured in critical condition. The extent of the damage caused by the storm is yet to be assessed, but the destruction has been massive, especially in Pheta and Bhulahi Bharwaliya areas of Bara district. The hailstorm that lashed the area was so strong that it even overturned a passenger bus, toppled electricity poles and uprooted trees. Tall standing crops were destroyed, and hundreds of homes on the farms have been reduced to rubble after the roofs got blown away and the walls collapsed. Many people could still be trapped inside the rubble of their homes. The Department of Hydrology and Meteorology had forecast heavy rains for Sunday for the region, but it could not predict the intensity of the storm at this particular place. But even if the people had been cautioned, where could they possibly head for if not their homes?

The injured are undergoing treatment in hospitals and in temporary health camps. The government has been quick to respond to the natural disaster, with the Prime Minister himself flying to the affected region to take stock of the situation after cancelling the scheduled programmes in his hometown, Jhapa. He has said that the government would leave no stone unturned to carry out rescue and relief efforts. The security agencies – Nepal Army, Armed Police Force and the Nepal Police – have been deployed in the areas and are helping to bring life back to normalcy. Since there is a big rush of the injured to the hospitals, there are reports that they face a shortage of medicines, equipment, beds and doctors to handle them. So the government must see to it that there is no shortage of anything at this time of calamity.

Sunday’s natural disaster is a national crisis, and both the centre and the provincial government must coordinate their activities to provide succor to the people devastated by the storm. The Province 2 government has taken a decision to provide Rs 300,000 in assistance to each of the families that have lost a member and bear the treatment cost of those who were injured in the storm. For sure, the federal government’s assistance will be even bigger. Given the gravity of the situation, it would be in everyone’s interest to engage in the rescue and relief operation on a war footing and not politicise the issue. Nepalis and Nepali organisations abroad have already started a campaign to raise funds for the victims of the Sunday storm. At times of crisis, the common people have been more than willing to help with cash and kind, so any assistance for their fellow countrymen at this hour would be more than welcome. Since the destruction is akin to one caused by an earthquake, the government must sooner than later initiate a reconstruction and rehabilitation programme so that the poor can have a roof over their head and something to get along with their life.

Work permit resumes

After a hiatus of ten months, the government has decided to issue work permits from Monday to Malaysia-bound Nepali workers, who have already received their calling visas. The work permits will be issued from all the labour offices. There are around 7,000 Malaysia-bound workers, who have received the calling visas, which means they have received confirmation from their employers. The government had stopped issuing work permits to the Nepali workers after they were charged hefty fees by agents.

As per the labour pact reached between Malaysia and Nepal in October last year, the concerned employer will bear all the expenses, including round air ticket and health insurance, of the Malaysia-bound workers. However, a Nepal migrant worker needs to meet the health requirements set by Malaysia’s health standard guideline. The new pact will save a lot of money of the migrant workers. Malaysia is one of the attractive labour destinations for the Nepali workers. The Malaysia government’s effort to protect the rights of the migrant workers is laudable. The new provision will prevent the local agents from fleecing additional money from the aspirant workers, who have helped keep the national economy afloat.