Sunday, 14 April, 2024

The Reconstruction Feat

In April 2015 when 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal, it left trail of death and destruction across the country. There was still a political division and divided political leadership was caught off guard with regard to addressing the seismic challenges triggered by the quake. There lay the uphill task of conducting the rescue and relief operation in the first place so as to save the lives of the injured. Then there was urgency of reconstructing the private houses, government buildings, schools and hospitals which were razed to the ground. Similarly, hundreds of thousands of people were displaced. To provide them shelter was the primary duty of the government. Thus, reconstruction of all structures damaged by the temblor was a huge challenge for the country that was bracing for institutionalising the big political achievements with the promulgation of the new constitution.

Undeterred by the natural calamity, Nepalis stood united to rebuild the country. The international community came to assist the Himalayan nation to pick up the pieces. Six years on, the country’s post-quake reconstruction works are close to completion. National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) has almost finished the construction of damaged private houses and public buildings. The other day, the NRA Directive Committee held its 21st meeting to assess the progress and the remaining reconstruction works. As per the given mandate, the NRA is wrapping up its tenure and handing over to its responsibility to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority (NDRRMA). A news report published in this daily on Thursday says that the meeting decided to transfer the NRA’s activities and obligations, liabilities, assets, deeds, documents and particulars to NDRRMA that will also facilitate, coordinate and monitor the reconstruction and rehabilitation works carried out by NRA and various ministries, departments and bodies.

The meeting was fruitful in providing a direction to the future reconstruction works under another agency and environment. The NDRRMA has been asked to prepare the integrated financial report of the NRA's current and capital expenditures for the fiscal year 2021/22 and conduct the auditing. It will oversee the earthquake shelter reconstruction project that is being under implementation as per the accord reached with the World Bank and works related to technical assistance, recompense and report on Multi Donor Trust Fund (MDTF). As concerned stakeholders have pointed out, the NDRRMA should be granted legal autonomy and financial right as exercised by the NRA. It needs to be equipped with necessary competent human and financial resources, experts and technical hands.

While chairing the meeting, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba assured that there would not be any shortage of budget in completing the remaining reconstruction works. It is necessary to hand over the reconstructed houses to the concerned people and offices in time. The PM also thanked the national and international community for their cooperation in reconstruction of damaged structures and rehabilitation of the displaced families. Nepal has achieved a success in the reconstruction projects. The experiences and lessons learnt in this regard must be recorded in the institutional memory for the posterity which will be useful for post-disaster response in the future.