Reconstruction speed accelerated on recent months , Kathmandu Valley lagging behind
Three years and three months have passed since the devastative April 2015 earthquake. National Reconstruction Authority (NRA), the apex body responsible for reconstruction of 2015 earthquake disaster was formed in August 2015 to coordinate and finance medium-term and long-term recovery. Although the reconstruction process was soon started out after the earthquake, a number of problems arising at grass root level to strategic level has resulted in slow paced reconstruction.
The catastrophic earthquakes of 25 April and May 12, 2015 led to unprecedented loss of lives and properties. Approximately 9,000 people lost their lives, more than 22,000 people were injured, more than 7,00,000 houses were damaged either fully or partially. The destruction was widespread covering residential and government buildings, heritage sites, schools and health posts, rural roads, bridges, water supply systems, agricultural land, trekking routes, hydropower plants etc. As per the Post Disasters Needs Assessment (PDNA,2015), The total value of disaster effects (damages and losses) earthquakes is estimated to be about NRs. 706 billion (US$ 7 billion) that is equivalent to about one third of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Fiscal Year 2013/14. However, with government commitment to provide NRs. 3,00,000 instead of 2,00,000, the reconstruction cost has increased significantly.
Government of Nepal has allocated Rs 151.08 billion, for the fiscal year 2018-19 for reconstruction considering it to be an indispensable way for revitalizing the national economy. The positive effect of which is seen as an increased growth rate of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in recent years.
Reconstruction in Data
The official statistics from Central Level Project Implementation Unit – Ministry of Urban Development (CLPIU- MoUD) shows that 7,21, 801 beneficiaries have signed agreement for Reconstruction aid out of 8,07,486 total identified beneficiaries which is 89.4%. As the first tranche of assistance is available to all identified beneficiary just after they have signed agreement, there is little challenge for distributing it. However, there are some challenge such as lack of land ownership certificate (which is required for signing an agreement) & increased number of beneficiaries due to the temptation of getting reconstruction aid amount without any toil.
Out of 7, 21,801 beneficiaries who have received first tranche, almost 5,20,000 houses (72 %) are in process of reconstruction. Also 4,90,406 (68%) of them have applied for second tranche, out of which 0.96% (4689 houses) are termed non-compliant to the National Building Code (NBC). Deadline for application to second tranche was only up to end of Asadh, 2075 for which construction up to plinth level or Damp proof course (DPC) is mandatory being compliant to National Building Code. 32% of beneficiaries do not have applied for second tranche which means either the construction has not started or has not reached the DPC level.
Out of 7,21,801 beneficiaries 2,62,019 (36.3%) have applied for third tranche, and 0.92 % of them (2403 houses) are said to be non-complaint to NBC. Also, around 2,50,880 are approved for third tranche of reconstruction aid, which will be mobilized after completing construction of house to the roof level being and being compliant to NBC or other NRA published guidelines etc.
Diagnosis of Reconstruction
Government has given first priority for reconstruction to severely earthquake hit 14 districts and considering them for analysis of pace of reconstruction will be more rational.
Out of 6,26,420 beneficiaries, who have signed agreement for reconstruction aid, of severely earthquake hit 14 districts, 4,66,762(74.5 %) beneficiaries have given application for second installment of aid. Out of remaining 1,59,658 beneficiaries, 62,126 (39%) are of Kathmandu valley alone. Only considering 3 districts of Kathmandu valley, 62,126 (71%) out of 87,476 beneficiaries have not applied for second tranche whereas only 97,532 (18%) out of 5,38,944 are left to apply for second tranche in other 11 severely earthquake hit districts.
This clearly show the slow pace of reconstruction in Kathmandu Valley in spite of being considered most accessible than other districts. Following the pace of Kathmandu Valley are Kavrepalanchowk and Makawanpur districts, where more than 30% beneficiaries are yet to apply for second tranche The pace of reconstruction in other than Kathmandu valley signifies that it is probably not much dependent on the availability of construction materials or labor forces, as foreseen by many.
Likewise, the significant progress in the speed of private housing reconstruction in current year is not to be underestimated. But either due to communication gap, strict minimum requirement in NBC or hard to achieve short time frame deadlines for construction, significant number of beneficiaries prefer to build either one or two room houses only with the aim of getting their reconstruction aid. With the limited space that they have, some people share their idea of adding storey once the reconstruction aid process is completed while some just use those one or two room houses for secondary works as store, kitchen, cowshed etc and houses are popularly known as “ Bhukampa ko Ghar” . Sadly, in spite of the all the efforts, many people in earthquake hit district think only the houses constructed using reconstruction aid should follow the minimum requirements, NBC and not for the houses being built otherwise. It is high time to question is the reconstruction process only limited to laying foundations and building walls in the name of reconstruction or are those houses even good enough for people to live in?