Govt was prepared to tackle disaster before the earthquake: Home Ministry

Kathmandu, June 2: The Ministry of Home Affairs has clarified that it was aware of the possible risk of a massive quake and had made various preparations in policy, structure and managerial levels to tackle it.

The Ministry has further stated that it was intensifying the rescue and relief providing operations considering that an eight Richter scale quake might occur in Kathmandu valley and neighboring districts.

Rameshwar Dangal, Chief at the Disaster Management Division informed that the Ministry had already formed a separate disaster management battalion in the Nepal Police and disaster management training was imparted to the Armed Police Force aiming to tackle such natural disasters.

About four million people live in the Kathmandu valley and the settlements are unmanaged and impassable. There are about 230,000 houses in the Kathmandu metropolitan city itself therefore it is challenging to conduct immediate rescue operations if any disaster hit the city.

Talking to RSS at his own office, division chief Dangal added that 83 open places were declared as special zone to the quake affected people for their temporary settlements in the valley and drinking water and other food items were also managed for them.

He further informed that a humanitarian support cell was set up at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) three months ago while such cells were set up at Khumaltar and Tribhuvan University premises at Kirtipur. Similarly, such cell is prepared to be constructed in Bhaktapur as well.

Division chief Dangal said that the Ministry had implemented the National Disaster Response Modality in course of receiving foreign supports at times of such natural disasters. He added that there was a Multinational Army Coordination Centre under the Nepal Army to coordinate among the foreign army in course of rescue operations. 

The Ministry has stated that it was able to carry out the rescue operations with the necessary safety equipments in 24 hours due to the activeness of the National Emergency Rescue Centre under the Ministry. In addition to it, the District Emergency Rescue Centres have been set up in different 55 districts so far for the same.     

It is stated that managing the tents for the quake affected and displaced people was challenging  as only 20,000 sets of tents were with Red Cross and other agencies.

Likewise, the Ministry stated that it was planning to supply the food items stocked at the Nepal Food Corporation Depot which has been kept for SAARC food security bank.

Disaster Management Act in limbo

Although, a draft for the formulation of a new act regarding disaster management has been submitted to the Legislature-Parliament twice, it has not been approved yet.

Dangal said, "The first Constituent Assembly had started holding discussion in this regard and it is also presented in the second CA, but it has not been approved yet."

Disaster management tasks are now underway as per the Natural Disaster Rescue Act-2039 BS.

According to the Division, the government carried out rescue and relief tasks as per the available means and resources. The government has also made arrangements for free treatment to all those injured in the quake, and intensified rescue and relief task.

Dangal said, "The government tried to implement the one-door policy in relief distribution but problem was surfaced due to ill-intension of some people and organisations. As a result, relief distribution task has not been effective."

The government has made an arrangement of sufficient quantity of tarpaulin sheets, mattress, food stuff to face disaster like floods and landslides and equipments to open obstructed roads in rainy season. It has allocated Rs 7.85 billion budget for relief at quake-hit areas till today.

A total of 8,699 people lost their lives while 22,489 were injured so far due to 'Gorkha' quake.  As many as 503,734 houses of general people were completely damaged while 275,231 suffered partial damages.

Similarly, a total of 1,360 government suffered complete damage while 3,424 partially damaged. RSS

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