NRA’s Welcome Plan
In a delayed yet welcome move, the government has started providing additional assistance to the victims of the April 2015 Gorkha Earthquake for the development of essential infrastructures like road, electricity transmission line and water supply system in integrated settlements being built in various districts. As per the plan, the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) is to provide extra Rs. 400 thousand to each family entitled to Rs. 300 thousand house reconstruction grant for the construction of basic infrastructure in integrated settlements in the hills while those in the mountains will get Rs. 500 thousand extra for the purpose. According to a news report in this daily, the Executive Committee of the NRA on Friday approved a plan of building integrated settlements in Syangja, Sindhupalchowk and Ramechhap districts that will benefit some 115 families – 35 at Tildanda in Arjun Chaupari Rural Municipality-4 of Syangja, 24 each at Haibung and Raramarang in Melamchi Municipality of Sindhupalchowk and 30 at Gumsal in Doramba Rural Municipality in Ramechhap district. As per the scheme, Tildanda integrated settlement will receive Rs. 14 million, and Gumsal Rs. 12 million while Haibung and Taramarang will receive Rs. 9.6 million each for infrastructure construction. These projects are to be implemented once the respective local bodies complete the detailed project report of the integrated settlements. NRA had approved similar schemes at Jilu of Dolakha district, Baguwa Milan of Gorkha district and Melamchi Jarayotar of Sindhupalchowk district and these projects are under construction now. The NRA deserves appreciation for making provision of extra grant for infrastructure development in integrated settlements as it will surely enhance people’s quality of life in those places.
It is almost four years since the 7.8 Richter scale Gorkha Earthquake struck the country, in April 2015. The devastating tremor and an equally powerful aftershock a couple of weeks later had claimed the lives of about 9,000 people, injured thousands of others and destroyed property worth billions, particularly in the central region of the country. It damaged nearly one million houses, thousands of schools and hospitals, and numerous office buildings and cultural monuments. Millions of people were rendered homeless and many are still spending their days in makeshift huts. They have already braved four monsoons and four cold spells in this situation thanks to the delays in the process of reconstruction. Successive governments maintained that reconstruction of houses and other infrastructure damaged by the Gorkha Earthquake was their top priority. However, the reconstruction drive has been unbearably slow. According to figures on NRA website, so far only 347 thousand houses have been completed out of 996 houses it surveyed and 823 eligible beneficiaries; the NRA has signed grant agreements with only 744,167 individuals, meaning some 80 thousand beneficiaries have not approached the Authority for the grant maybe because they found the procedure cumbersome or they thought they would be unable to accomplish the reconstruction work - elderly citizens, single women, orphans below 16 years of age and individuals with complete or severe disability.
It is sad to note that many people who lost their houses during the earthquake are not in a situation to avail of the assistance provided by the state and are still living in tents while a number of heritages remain in total neglect. So it is the responsibility of the NRA to make sure that all the victims of earthquake can avail of the financial grant offered by the state to rebuild their houses while the reconstruction of public buildings gains due momentum.