NRA engineers, technicians resign en massePRAGATI SHAHI
Around 1,200 technical staffers mobilised in 11 most earthquake-affected districts resigned en masse on Tuesday charging the government with failing to address their demands.
The engineers, overseers and sub-overseers mobilised to facilitate reconstruction of private housing structures with technical support and monitoring had been demanding hike in salary and incentives, policies for speeding up rebuilding works and proper accommodation and security for them.
“We handed over resignation letters to Shiva Raj Sharma, project chief of the Central Level Project Implementation Unit under the Ministry of Urban Development,” said Sanjib Angai, an engineer working in Gorkha.
According to him, almost 70 percent of the technical staff mobilised in the affected districts had put in papers. There are around 1,900 technicians working on the ground in total.
A majority of engineers and other technicians had stopped working after the ministry failed to address their concerns. Their frequent strikes hampered design approval and adherence to earthquake-resistant building code in the districts. Sindhupalchok, Ramechhap, Dolakha, Gorkha, Nuwakot and Kavre districts faced frequent strikes by the engineers that halted reconstruction works.
Quake-hit families who received the first instalment of housing aid worth Rs50,000 have started rebuilding in many villages.
“It’s eight months since we were sent to work in difficult terrains. We demanded area-specific salary and incentives but the government only gave us false assurances,” said Surendra Subba, an engineer working in Sindhupalchok.
Soon after the earthquake in April last year, the government decided to mobilise around 3,000 engineers, sub-engineers and overseers to supervise the rebuilding of individual houses in 14 districts. The authority has hired 2,700 engineers, sub-engineers and overseers, of which 220 quit earlier.
The engineers have blamed the delay in approval of the amended guidelines on grants and the slow pace reconstruction. “The number of complaints is increasing in villages but the concerned authority is unable to address them. The locals think we are responsible; hence the misunderstanding,” said Subba.
The National Reconstruction Authority says it has forwarded a proposal to raise incentives and facilities. On Sunday, the Finance Ministry endorsed the draft guidelines essential for releasing the second tranche of aid worth Rs150,0000 for each house being rebuilt.