Sunday, 14 July, 2024

Feat Of Post-quake Reconstruction


The year 2015 was annus horribilis for Nepal though it introduced a historic new constitution. The devastating Gorkha earthquake had rattled the Himalayan nation, killing around 9,000 people, injuring many more and destroying physical infrastructures worth $7 billion. The biggest quake in decades completely turned the life of Nepalis upside down. As they were trying to pick up the pieces, the unofficial Indian embargo came to rub salt into their wound. It appeared that Nepalis would never recover from the tragic disaster. However, the Nepali society demonstrated great resilience, guts and determination to overcome the calamity. Four years on, the nation is marching ahead with successful post-earthquake reconstruction and rehabilitation works which are exemplary and worth sharing with the international community. The success also became possible owing to the stable and strong government in place now. Reconstruction works were hampered when there were frequent changes of governments.

According to a news report published in this daily, the National Reconstruction Authority (NRC) has achieved success in constructing private houses, schools, health posts, heritage sites and public buildings damaged by the quake. The NRC is close to completing the reconstruction of around 80 per cent private houses. NRC head Sushil Gyawali said only 20 per cent of damaged houses had been left to be rebuilt, half of which were unlikely to be reconstructed. Presenting the progress report at the meeting of NRC Advisory Council, chaired by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Friday, Gyawali informed that the number of total reconstruction beneficiaries in the quake-hit 32 districts has reached 829,057.

About 68 per cent of them have received third tranche of the housing reconstruction grant and 80 per cent have already got second tranche. Over 99 per cent have received the first tranche. There was a demand for building 100 integrated settlements, of which 45 were approved and construction of nine settlements has already been completed. The NRC has reconstructed 71 per cent schools, 15 per cent university and college buildings, 56 per cent health institutions and 84 per cent government offices. Of total 170 world heritage sites damaged by the earthquake, 101 were completed, 54 per cent are under construction and 15 per cent are yet to start. Reconstruction of the Rani Pokhari is expected to be completed in April this year. The NRC stated that the reconstructed structures are earthquake resistant.

While instructing the concerned agencies to complete the remaining tasks at fast pace, PM Oli has expressed his satisfaction over the reconstruction and rehabilitation works. He has suggested for documenting experiences, knowledge and feat of the post-earthquake reconstruction so as to share them with posterity as well as other nations. PM’s advice is appropriate in view of NRA’s plan to organise an international conference on post-quake reconstruction in Kathmandu this year. However, the government and NRA should address the concerns of those quake victims who have been unable to get the house grants owing to the technical and legal reasons. It is imperative to give priority to constructing other infrastructures such as roads, bridges, hydropower plants and pipelines of drinking water spoilt by the quake. The participation of elected representatives, local people, victims and other stakeholders must be ensured for effectiveness and quality of reconstruction works.