The Kathmandu Post, Post Report, 25th April 2017, Kathmandu
On the eve of the second anniversary of the devastating April Earthquake, Asta Maya Dhoju, 45, was busy preparing cotton wicks for oil lamp before her makeshift shelter in Tekuchha, Bhaktapur on Monday.
Dhoju, who hails from Itachhe in the district, has been living in the hut with her family ever since her house was destroyed by the Gorkha Earthquake in 2015.
Though the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) claims that it is entirely focussed on expediting reconstruction, Dhoju’s family has yet to receive the first tranche for the house rebuilding aid.
The fate of the family of 65-year-old Krishna Laxmi Duwal at the Padma School area in Bhaktapur is no better. Despite frequently visiting municipal officials, her family has been unable to collect the first instalment of the reconstruction grants. “I don’t know how long we will have to wait to have our own house,” she told the Post in frustration.
The condition of the Dhoju and Duwal families depicts the sluggish pace of reconstruction of the earthquake-destroyed properties that leaves thousands of survivors homeless two years after the disaster.
According to the report made public by the NRA on Monday, the reconstruction of 22,234 houses has been over so far. It shows that out of the 626,695 families eligible for grants, only 543,606 have received the first tranche of Rs50,000. Among them, only 49,681 have started rebuilding their homes, which means 554,780 families who lost their houses in the quake have yet to begin construction works.
The Post Disaster Needs Assessment, prepared shortly after the disaster, had planned to complete the entire reconstruction works in five years. Health facilities, schools and individual houses were targeted to be rebuilt within two and three years, respectively. Though the deadline for reconstruction of the health facilities is nearly over, hardly 162 of the 628 facilities destroyed in the disaster have been rebuilt. The scenario of school rebuilding is even more pathetic. Out of the 7,923 schools that needed reconstruction, hardly 1,141, including those with temporary pre-fabricated structures, have been readied-- 85 percent school buildings await to be rebuilt.
The works at heritage sites, which are the major attraction for foreign tourists, have not gone much further too. Among the 750 structures of historical importance, 20 have been rebuilt while the reconstruction process for 90 others has just begun.
As many as 363 drinking water projects, among the 9,941 destroyed, have been repaired while the reconstruction of police posts, Army barracks and other government properties is negligible. Besides, the process to relocate 475 settlements that are vulnerable to disasters has yet to begin.
“We must admit that reconstruction has been slow,” Govind Raj Pokharel, chief executive officer of the NRA, told journalists on Monday. “We are learning by doing and trying to do our best.”
NRA officials blame the lack of trained human resource to be the main reason for the delay. Frequent protests, and resignation, by technicians are other factors that the Authority points to. It also claims that coordination between different government agencies and the need to revise various legal and procedural documents also contributed to the delays. The authority also complains of a funding shortfall.