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Six years on, many quake victims in Capital Valley unable to rebuild houses



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By Indira Aryal
Kathmandu, Jan. 9: It has been well over six years since the devastating Gorkha earthquake hit the country. Nepal Reconstruction Authority (NRA), which was formed to repair the physical damage, recently completed its six-year tenure. However, many individual houses in three districts of the Kathmandu Valley are standing with the support of wooden logs.

The NRA handed over its responsibilities to the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction and National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority (NDRRMA) on December 26, 2021.
According to the NRA, the reconstruction of 92 per cent of individual houses has been completed so far. But still, some people in the Kathmandu Valley are waiting to rebuild their houses destroyed by the 2015 earthquake.
Many houses in the core areas of these cities still stand with the support of wooden logs. Most residents of those houses complained about sibling rivalry for not rebuilding their houses.

“We already received our first tranche of Rs. 50,000 but we are still living in the dilapidated houses as we do not have money to construct houses anywhere,” said Krishna Kumari Gothe, a 66-year woman from Tepuchowk in Bhaktapur Municipality-1.
A 26-member family of three brothers is living in the same derelict house as they do not have land elsewhere to reconstruct the house. They cannot rebuild the house at the same place because the small area should be divided into three brothers of father-in-law and then her husband’s five brothers. “It is not possible to build a house here, and we have nowhere to go, let us die here,” she said.

Buddha Laxmi Boyaju of Ward No. 2 of the Municipality has a similar story to share. The four-member family is living in a rented room near their damaged house. “We received Rs. 50,000 from the government, but our small house is shared by four brothers-in-law.

We cannot construct the house until they are ready,” she said. Her other brothers-in-law already constructed houses somewhere but she is the only one in the family who is waiting for her brothers-in-law’s approval to reconstruct a house in the same place where her damaged house stands.
Sunil Prajapati, Mayor of the Bhaktapur Municipality, said that almost all the houses besides those are in legal tussles. “They have many problems like a feud between landlords and tenants, among the brothers, while some have no space whatsoever to reconstruct their houses,” Mayor Shrestha said.

Many houses in the core areas of the Municipality, including in Golmari, Khauma, Jelaa, Tekhacho and nearby Navadurga Temple still remain wrecked.
“We do not have a solution to that because they have to come up with the solution. Most of them already received their first tranche and it’s up to them to start the process,” he said.
Not only in Bhaktapur, many houses, temples and historic buildings in the heart of the Kathmandu city also stand with the support of wooden logs.

A two-storey Etichapa building with 11 shops and two offices in Ashan Chowk is also standing with the support of wooden logs. Roshan Tuladhar, who has been running a cosmetic shop for 60 years, said the house could not be reconstructed with the tussle between Guthi Sansthan and Kathmandu Metropolitan City.
The building which is owned by Annapurna Guthi Sansthan has remained dilapidated for the last six years.

In the Lalitpur district, many houses destroyed by the earthquake in Bungmati, Khokana and Sunakothi have not been rebuilt.
According to Rajendra Maharjan, Ward Chairman of Khokana, most of the houses left for reconstruction are owing to the tussle between the brothers. Many people do not have money to rebuild their houses while some failed to receive money from the government.

“There a single house is shared by many brothers making separate kitchen and one of the members agrees to rebuild the house while another disagrees, that is another reason for not rebuilding the house in the area,” Chairman Maharjan said.

There are many adjoining houses in the core areas. If one house starts the reconstruction process, another house should begin simultaneously. But the lack of funds and family feuds have also caused a delay in the reconstruction of damaged houses in various core city areas, he said.