Friday, 17 September, 2021

The Reconstruction Goal

The reconstruction of private homes and public structures such as schools and health facilities in dozens of quake-hit districts has been going on in a smooth manner despite the continuous spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and political instability in the country. Founded on December 25, 2015 in the wake of the devastating Gorkha Earthquake, the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) initially had a five-year term to carry out the challenging task of crucial reconstruction. Based on the concept of ‘build back better’, the reconstruction campaign gathered momentum with the institutional development. However, since the task of rebuilding could not be completed within the given timeframe, the reconstruction body’s term has been extended by one more year till December 25 this year. The NRA is expected to complete most of the reconstruction works by that deadline.

The relevant ministries will have to carry out the remaining works after the NRA’s term is over. With the date of the expiry of its tenure nearing, the reconstruction body has made necessary preparations for handing over the remaining rebuilding tasks to the responsible government agencies. The government is in the process of assigning the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority (NDRRMA) to coordinate, monitor and manage all the projects in regard with disaster management. Similarly, the Ministry of Urban Development and other line agencies are going to undertake the building construction and management tasks.

It is needless to mention that the powerful April 2015 earthquake had killed as many as 9,000 people and ravaged hundreds of thousands of private homes, heritages, health and education facilities and other infrastructures. As per the NRA’s report, the quake damaged over 49,681 classrooms of 7,553 schools, 326 health facilities, 465 heritages, 415 government buildings and 216 structures of security agencies. Initial estimates were that it would take about Rs. 938 billion for the five-year reconstruction and rehabilitation drive. However, the mid-term review of the Post Disaster Recovery Framework (PDRF) put the estimated reconstruction cost at Rs. 630 billion. In the beginning, some 1.03 million houses had been surveyed. Of them, some 866,060 were found eligible for the housing grant of Rs. 300,000. And the government signed the grant deal with 820,340 families.

However, the number of households has gone up after the NRA decided to include additional families as beneficiaries of the reconstruction grant. Under the reconstruction plan, the reserving families have got the housing grant to rebuild low-cost and earthquake-resistant homes. According to a news report carried by this daily on Thursday, some 615,493 houses have so far been reconstructed while 721,334 households have received the second instalment of the housing grant. Similarly, a total of 664,445 households are now eligible for the third instalment of the grant. The reconstruction project is regarded as one of the most well-managed and successful projects in the country. The NRA is also organising an international conference on the post-quake reconstruction to share the practice and success stories with the rest of the world.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has instructed the NRA to complete the projects that were inaugurated by the previous government even before their completion. Speaking at the 20th meeting of the NRA Directive Committee on Wednesday, he assured that the government would extend necessary support for intensifying the reconstruction works.