Retrofitting grant for quake survivors ‘soon’

July 24, 2017

The Kathmandu Post, 24 July 2017

The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) said on Sunday that the process of distributing grant to earthquake affected houses that can be retrofitted was in the final stage. The government had decided to disburse Rs100,000 for retrofitting such structures in 14 districts worst affected by the 2015 earthquake. 

“The process of identifying beneficiaries has been completed. The distribution of amount will begin soon,” NRA Executive Committee member Dhruba Prasad Sharma said, addressing an interaction organised by the Transparency International Nepal (TIN) on Sunday. 

The NRA has identified 19,866 households to be eligible for receiving retrofitting grant. The amount, according to the NRA, will be disbursed in two equal tranches of Rs50,000.

Identifying efficient coordination is one of the aspects preventing the reconstruction drive from gaining the desired speed, Sharma said, while informing that formation of the Central Level Project Implementation Unit (CLPIU) and the District Level Project Implementation Units (DLPIU) has helped maintain better coordination in recent months. “21 ministries are involved in the reconstruction process,” said Sharma, indicating the heightened complexity in coordination. 

Procurement of construction materials is another major issue hindering the reconstruction drive, he noted. The NRA has authorised district-level officials to issue tenders worth Rs20-30 million and the heads of CLPIUs to take decisions on procurement related issues.

TIN President Shreehari Aryal pointed out the government’s inability to communicate policy level decision to the earthquake survivors as a major factor, hindering the reconstruction drive.

“People are unaware about the process of acquiring all three instalments of housing grant. Many feel the government is supposed to rebuild their homes,” Aryal said. “Half the issues will be resolved if the government maintains efficient communication system.” 

The institution dedicated to increasing public accountability and corruption is conducting the ‘Integrity in Post Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation (IPERR)’ programme in 14 quake affected districts. It has deployed human resources 

to perform the role of watchdog in the reconstruction drive. The agency, through this programme, has also been analysing and identifying issues at the grassroots level and notifying the government. 

During the programme, TIN representatives from 14 districts, quake survivors, government officials and experts shared that unavailability of skilled manpower, lack of awareness among quake survivors and procedural delay were major issues slowing down the reconstruction drive. TIN district representatives also slammed the donor agencies for turning apathetic to the reconstruction drive, saying that the agreement of such agencies with the government had not been realised.