Saturday, July 8, 2017

How much longer must they wait?

After the previous blog on being a sports fan, time to talk about something more serious. Most chiya pasals (tea shops) don’t have television anyway.

Nepal’s Great Earthquake struck in April/May 2015. It killed 8,790 people, injured 22,300 and affected more than 9 million. 490,000 houses were destroyed, 265,000 houses were left uninhabitable and 3.5 million people were left homeless.

It is July 2017 now – two years and four months later! The current monsoon is the third after the earthquake. Of the 755,000 houses destroyed or made uninhabitable by the earthquake, construction of only 32,195 houses have been completed. 102,986 houses are under construction and are to be completed before the Dashain festival which begins on 21 September. In effect, 18% of all destroyed and uninhabitable houses are expected to be completed by this September, not a figure to be proud of.

The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA, not to be confused with the (in)famous US organization with the same acronym) harps on new houses not being in compliance with the government standard. It is apparently extending additional grants of Rupees 20,000-50,000 (about USD 190-490) to bring houses in remote areas up to the standard. Engineers are also apparently being trained to renovate structures to make them earthquake-resilient. The term “apparently” has been liberally used because this information has been culled from newspapers, and I cannot stand guarantee for the information. In any case, if engineers are still under training, what has the NRA been doing for over two years?

The 82% of houses still to be constructed means that the former occupants of those destroyed or uninhabitable houses are facing a third monsoon under makeshift structures, hard put to keep the heavy rains out. Of course, when winter comes in November, they have to suffer the cold for a third year again.

The Donors’ Conference for the earthquake garnered pledges of $4.1 billion, not a paltry sum. The housing and reconstruction needs cost over $6 billion. But the results above indicate a slow-moving bureaucratic approach which is not what disaster management ought to be. The construction of new houses must be speeded immensely without further delay. The excuse of new houses not meeting government standards is no excuse: (a) people may have been forced to build them because government assistance was so slow in delivery; and (b) it is the NRA’s duty to ensure adequate monitoring of new houses so that they meet the standards. That it has to doll out additional funds clearly indicates that the original funds were inadequate. The political delay in constituting the NRA itself, two years ago, speaks volumes about the approach to alleviating the circumstances of those affected by the earthquake.

Not much more to say. The situation is clear from the above diatribe. Housing the homeless created by the earthquake must be the foremost national objective. Let us hope the new government is listening.

12 comments:

Deep Lamichhane said...

When bureaucrats enable politicians to make a quick buck at the expense of the entire nation, this becomes a reality. Greed in Nepal is no longer just good. It has become even better for the select few who walk the corridors of power.

Subodh Rana said...

When the government doles out in tranche (where do they get these words from ??)our good men of the villages will drink it away making festivals that much more livelier?

Arhant said...

Kancho bua Your writing inspires me. I wish I could write like you.

Raman Misra said...

Compared to the Rana time earthquake, the government has just shown to be incompetent in providing help to the victims of this earthquake. But then this is New Nepal.

Subodh Rana said...

Here's a bit of the Old Nepal for your readers:
http://historylessonsnepal.blogspot.com/2015/07/a-divine-test.html

Buddha Basnyat said...

Based on what I see as the plight of the people living in shelters post- earthquake even today, what you say below is 100% true.

"Housing the homeless created by the earthquake must be the foremost national objective. Let us hope the new government is listening".

Birat Simha said...

Many thanks for the above comments.

Subodh Dai, could not open the link to your blog.

Arhant, thank you for the compliment. The trick to good writing is to believe completely in what you are writing about, to be passionate about the subject, e.g. the email you wrote to your parents about why you want to join the army.

Subodh Rana said...

If you copy and paste the link, it opens easily.....

Birat Simha said...

Thanks. Opened the link. Your blog "A Divine Test" is very appropriate to this blog.

Kathryn Boyd Loftus said...

This is an excellent if not very disturbing analysis of the post earthquake efforts - or lack thereof- for the homeless and others! While our government isn't much better, this is truly unacceptable given the dire situation of those affected. I truly wish private groups could receive assistance directly to help the cause without going through the bureaucracy. That said, I truly hope the Nepali Government can move more quickly! It's way past time!

Surendra Panday said...

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2j__tFNpXqc

Ayodhya P Shrivastav said...

Officials really need management training. And also show leadership when required. While the earthquake was a disaster, it's an opportunity to build the infrastructure. Unfortunately, it hasn't been done. To a large extent, we can't blame politicians. We elect them.