Main oppn to ratchet up pressure on govtThe NC move comes at a time when it is facing criticism for failing to play a constructive role as shadow government
The main opposition Nepali Congress (NC) has said it will ratchet up pressure on the government for its failure to expedite reconstruction and rehabilitation work during Parliament’s budget session that resumes on Wednesday.
During a gathering called by party President Sher Bahadur Deuba on Tuesday, NC lawmakers and district leaders accused the governing CPN-UML of treating the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) as its “private company to hire UML cadres” and doling out projects selectively to UML-aligned NGOs without consulting local leaders from other parties and social workers and called for mounting pressure on the government “for exploiting post-quake reconstruction work to benefit UML cadres”.
Ram Hari Khatiwada, a lawmaker from Okhaldhunga district, emphasised that the government must distribute the pledged aid amount of Rs 200,000 at the earliest to the earthquake survivors who lost their homes. “The government has failed dismally in relief work,” he said.
Questioning the snail-paced performance of the NRA, Khatiwada said, “The populist budget presented by the government and the overly ambitious dreams sold by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli are nothing but an attempt to divert the general public’s attention from its failure to provide swift service to earthquake survivors.”
“The government cannot be providing makeshift shelters in the first year, plates and spoons in the next and rice in the third year and claim that they have understood the people’s sentiments,” said Khatiwada. “We must be aware of the fact that Oli’s pledges are only limited to words.” The NC move to exert pressure on the government comes at a time when it has been facing criticism for failing to play a constructive role as a shadow government in Parliament. NC leader Prakash Sharan Mahat said the party would also urge the government to immediately correct its decision of providing the Rs 200,000 housing aid in tranches.
“The survivors are in dire straits and there has been heavy politicisation in relief distribution,” said Mahat, who is a lawmaker from Nuwakot. “We have found that the government has failed to list some of the households that were affected by the quake and included those which are not eligible to receive aid,” he added.
Around 850,000 houses were destroyed, rendering hundreds of thousands of people homeless in the earthquake on April 25 last year.
The NRA, which was formed eight months after the earthquake, on Thursday initiated the process to release the first tranche of Rs 50,000 to around 170,000 families whose houses were destroyed by the earthquake.
NC’s plan to corner the government in Parliament also comes a week after NC President Deuba’s meeting with NRA Chief Executive Officer Sushil Gyewali.
During his meeting with Gyewali last week, Deuba had broached the issue of over-politicisation of post-disaster relief work, according to NC leaders. “Gyewali could neither explain what exactly the NRA was doing nor owned up to the politicisation at the ground level,” Kamal Pangeni, NC lawmaker from Syangja, quoted Deuba as saying during Tuesday’s gathering of the party.