40,000 flood victims still under makeshift shelters,

Govt decision to build houses for them limited in assurance

KATHMANDU: Then home minister Janardan Sharma directed Central Disaster Rescue Committee on September 12, 2017 to construct flood resistant homes within six months. The cabinet meeting held on October 23, 2017 formed ‘special flood reconstruction and rehabilitation unit’ to build the flood damaged buildings. Suman Karna was appointed as the unit coordinator.

Before then, the government decided to provide Rs 300,000 to each of the completely damaged houses, Rs 100,000 to the family of partially damaged houses and additional Rs 50,000 to the affected with site damaged completely.

Ten months have already passed but 40,463 families of 18 districts are still forced to live under makeshift shelters. The government also has not done anything to construct 238,118 partially damaged houses. A total of 134 persons died of floods last year alone.

Project chief Karna said that houses could not be rebuilt due to the lack of budget and manpower. “The Ministry of Finance did not release budget though it was demanded,” he said. “A working guideline was prepared in coordination with the stakeholders and forwarded to the Ministry of Finance. But the ministry is yet to approve it,” he added. “After approval from the ministry, the cabinet should pass it. Only then the way will be paved to construct houses for flood victims.”

Relief package was announced during the premiership of Sher Bahadur Deuba. Now, the government is headed by KP Sharma Oli, chairman of Nepal Communist Party (CPN) but the flood victims of 18 districts before rebuilding their houses are feared to face another rainy season.

The guideline forwarded to the Ministry of Finance has mentioned to distribute grants in two installments for house reconstruction. The contractor hired by the unit has prepared the design of two-room houses. The flood victims can build bigger houses by investing additionally on their own, said Karna.

A total of 811 houses in Jhapa, 12,093 in Morang, 3,232 in Sunsari, 4,145 in Saptari, 693 in Dhanusha, 2,516 in Mahottari, 1,500 in Sarlahi and 3,413 in Makwanpur were completely damaged.

According to the report, 4,234 houses in Rautahat, 1,211 in Bara, 981 in Parsa, 503 in Chitwan, 570 in Nawalparasi, 359 in Dang, 2,049 in Banke, 2,351 in Bardiya and 161 in Kailali were entirely ruined. The unit was formed to immediately distribute relief materials, and build houses for flood victims.

A report published by the National Planning Commission (NPC) estimated a total loss of Rs 60.71 billion from the floods. A total of Rs 73.22 billion is required for rehabilitation. Houses worth Rs 19.51 billion was damaged in the floods.

Rs 17.46 billion of irrigation projects, Rs 10.67 billion of animal husbandry, Rs 7.21 billion of agriculture, Rs 620 million of health and Rs 3 billion of transportation sectors were damaged in the floods. Similarly, Rs 880 million of drinking water and sanitation and Rs 220 million of energy sectors were damaged in the floods, according to the NPC report.

The government has done nothing for flood victims in 18 districts except initial distribution of Rs 15,000 as relief fund and Rs 10,000 for warm clothes in January-February. The recently presented government budget and programs for next fiscal year allocated budget for earthquake and flood victims under single title, which has created confusion to the victims.

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