| October 25, 2020

Quake victims disappointed over delay in grant distribution

A quick victim in Lapu VDC of Gorkha busy in household chore A quick victim in Lapu VDC of Gorkha busy in household chore Narahari Sapkota
GORKHA, June 7: Ran Bahadur Gurung of Aaruawarng had miserable life last monsoon. After the devastating earthquake rendered him homeless, life was out of gear. When rainy season approached soon, days were too harsh in lack of proper shelter. He was however pretty sure that the government would do something for the earthquake victims like before another monsoon hits. "But I was wrong," he laments.

The government had indeed promised this to the victims. The media had spread the news untiringly. But even by the first week of June, not even the initial steps are being taken to build houses for the likes of Gurung. "They only speak, never work," said the old man in frustrated tone.
Gurung lives in Aaruawarng VDC - 7. The VDC secretary tells him that there has been no deal with the center regarding house grant for the quake victims. If the process is started right now, it's going to take weeks to complete just the procedural formalities. By the time all the paper works are completed, monsoon would have bade goodbye.

"What's the use then? When will the government provide us the grant and when will we be able to build house? Rain is already here. It's raining almost everyday and we don't' have proper shelter to hide ourselves," Gurung said.

Two days ago, earthquake victims including Gurung were very eager to meet the VDC secretary Mohan Dahal. Dahal was supposed to break good news to the victims about the grant. However, though Dahal appeared before the people, he had nothing exciting to share. "We are sorry. The program has been postponed. The paper work said to be started from Saturday would start only from Wednesday," he said. He added that an organization called 'Goreto' was responsible for the delay. The organization was supposed to send assistants for the completion of the paperwork with the victims. As it failed to send assistants in the respective areas, the quake victims had to return disappointed.

"Instead of starting to provide the grant, they are still saying that 'deal' could not be done as there are no staffs for the work," Gurung fumed. It's National Reconstruction Authority's plan to involve NGOs in the dealing process. In coordination with respective VDCs the staffs needed to follow the chart or schedule to get the work done. But the schedule prepared by the authority could not be followed as the NGOs were not responsible, according to Dahal. "The work needed to start from 22 Jestha (4 June) but it's now been pushed to Wednesday, let's see," Dahal said.

The paperwork or 'deal' with the victims is needed to be done in 56 VDCs and two municipalities. Only in Barpak, Gumda, Saurpani and Hansapur the work is completed. Only after the documents are officially signed, the victims are provided with the grant. Among the VDCs where the formalities in paper are over, victims from Hansapur alone have received the first phase of the grant - Rs 50,000 so far.

"We are extremely worried over the situation. They have not come to us for the deal. Without that, they don't drop money for making our house," said Ranmaya Gurung of Muchchow - 1. In fact, Ranamaya has already built one small shelter with loan amount. She had expected to pay the amount after the government provides grant to the victims like her. "I have taken loan to make this house. I was thinking to pay off huge portion of the loan from the grant only. Things are so confusing now," she lamented. Her new house cost her Rs 350,000. She had heard that the government would provide Rs 200,000 in different phases. "What can we do even if the government doesn't provide a penny? We can do nothing. What to do of the loan now?" added Ranamaya.

Reconstruction authority lacks clear work plan

DOLAKHA: Lack of clear work plan of National Reconstruction Authority and its poor coordination of VDCs and municipalities has marred the construction process.

"It's been three months we have been staying in Charikot. There's no clear work plan and deadline, it's true," said Hariprasad Sharma, senior divisional engineer at Charikot office of the authority. "We are passing time just in meeting and seminars. No substantial work has been done," he admitted.

The authority's regional office is in Charikot where engineers like Sharma have been staying for so long. Sharma said that there is no clear direction on how to proceed the work further. "How to intervene, who's going to take care of what sort of thing are not clear," he said.

Local development officer of Dolakha, Bishnu Prasad Sharma stated that the role of the authority seems to be just that of an advisor. "It's not clear actually what work they are going to do. It only looks like they want to coordinate. And this has put pressure in the local level whereas there's no enough human resource in the first hand," he said.

Meanwhile, spokesperson at the authority, Ram Prasad Thapaliya said that the earthquake victims are going to get the grant money soon. "There's lack of staffs in the authority. But things are developing well, all the victims will get money soon," he said.