From the Nepali Press
Karobar daily, 30 March
What is the progress of post-earthquake reconstruction?
We have developed mechanisms and policies. We now have a structure to work at the grassroot level. People complain about delays, but it was not possible to begin reconstruction without internal preparation.
What is the authority doing now?
We are carrying out a survey to collect and verify the data about damage and earthquake survivors. We have completed 60 per cent of the survey, and we will distribute housing grants as soon as we have the exact data.
Is it true that the ongoing survey was carried out under pressure from donors?
This survey was necessary because we did not have reliable data about earthquake survivors. The Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) report was just a preliminary document, and we had promised during the International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction (ICNR) that we would collect reliable data before distributing housing grants. It helps us distribute housing grants among the real survivors, and not the fake ones.
Will earthquake survivors be able to rebuild their houses before the next monsoon?
I do not want to lie. They will not be able to rebuild their houses before the monsoon, even if we begin distributing housing grants now. It is difficult to manage construction workers because skilled and able-bodied youth are abroad. There is a scarcity of construction materials. I do not want to give them false hope.
Earthquake survivors are saying the Rs 200,000 housing grant is not sufficient.
The amount of the housing grant was determined before I was appointed as the authority chief. The government decided to give each family Rs 200,000, assuming that construction materials and cheaper workers would be available at the local level. If this amount still falls short, they can get a reconstruction loan of up to Rs 300,000 more.
Donors are complaining that the authority has failed to spend the reconstruction budget.
This is not true. They have in fact lauded our vision. We have so far signed loan agreements amounting to Rs 125 billion. We are preparing to sign another Rs 75 billion loan agreement with India. China is also releasing the money it pledged. The Finance Ministry has already released Rs 65 billion for reconstruction activity.
So what are the challenges?
The biggest challenge is to mobilise people. The lack of elected representatives has made it more difficult for us to work at the grassroot level. If possible, let us hold local elections across the country. If not, let us do it in the 31 earthquake-affected districts. If that is also not possible, let us do it in the 14 most affected districts.
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