Saturday, 2 March, 2024

Reconstruction Goal

As the devastating Gorkha earthquake of April 2015 nears the completion of five years, the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) aims to complete the reconstruction of private homes by the end of the current fiscal year. The concerned reconstruction works are in their final phase but there is no possibility of giving final touches to the total projects including heritages and schools in near future. In this regard, extension of the term of NRA may be necessary because the five year authorisation is coming to an end. Everybody wants to see the successful ending of the reconstruction undertaking of the national importance. This concerns the building of safe national infrastructure and the crucial resilience against earthquakes and other natural disasters. Some delays have occurred but it is natural for the fact that we had to pass thorough unexpected difficulties in the very beginning phase of the works. The Indian economic blockade of 2015 had a crippling effect on the reconstruction efforts due to short supply of vital construction materials and petroleum fuel. Work pace picked up after the normalisation of the supply situation and work progress so far has been put at 86 per cent.

As the given term of NRA heads towards completion, there is now a debate going on whether the authority’ term should be extended to entrust it to complete the remaining works. A task force has been formed for this purpose. Even if it is given the additional charge, it estimates to complete about 90 per cent of the reconstruction works by the end of this fiscal year. There is a proposition of handing over the reconstruction works to the local and State authorities. But such a transfer of authority may invite further delays and confusion. At a time when the State and local level government bodies are struggling to attain institutional capacities and technical expertise, allowing the NRA to continue its job is desirable for better results. It has gained valuable experience in the reconstruction and its expertise can go a long way to give final shape to the national reconstruction projects. Delays of works are tedious and tortuous for the quake victims but the main aim should be to build back better so that our structures will not turn deadly in the event of an earthquake in future.

Besides private homes, the nation also has to rebuild heritage monuments, schools, temples, hospitals and government offices. The strength of vital infrastructures like roads, bridges, power plants, power transmission lines and water supply projects need to be upgraded. We have to make sure that damage and losses will be put to the minimum when the big jolt hits us again. We should not end up constructing weak structures and putting lives in jeopardy in the next natural calamity. Constructions have to be carried out only under strict supervision and scientific certification of technical experts. Even construction sites in geologically vulnerable areas should be avoided. The government has increased the home reconstruction grants to Rs. 300,000 from Rs. 200,000 and missed beneficiaries have been included. What is required is to speed up the works to conclude the national reconstruction mission with grand success.