ICYMI: Here are our top stories from Thursday, April 25Here are some of the top stories from The Kathmandu Post (April 25, 2019).
Here are some of the top stories from The Kathmandu Post (April 25, 2019).
Four years after Nepal’s deadly earthquakes, survivors continue to live in disarray
It has been four years since the deadly earthquakes ripped apart Listikot Ward 1, where Maite and his wife Pema have been living all their lives. Nearly 9,000 people from across the country lost their lives in the 7.8 magnitude earthquake on April 25, 2015, and the 7.3 magnitude aftershock on May 12—63 people were killed in Maite’s ward itself. Many villagers, like Maite in Listikot, are only just starting to pick themselves up from the devastation of that day—four long years later.
After living in a temporary shelter for three years, Maite and Pema finally began building a new house last year. But construction is far from over. A few days ago, Maite, who has already spent Rs 1.5 million, ran out of money to pay for building materials and labour wages, forcing him to stop construction. He had even sold some of his wife’s jewellery, and accrued nearly a million rupees in loans, which came with an interest rate of 24 percent.
“My family has already spent four years in a temporary shelter. I want to move them into the new house as soon as possible,” said Maite. “But I have no idea how to pay for the remaining construction, or how I can pay back the loans.”
Four years on, many families in Valley’s core areas still live in quake-damaged houses
Like Maharjan, thousands of quake victims of the districts of Kathmandu Valley—Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur—have been living in quake-damaged houses that are delicately supported by wooden beams for the past four years.
According to the National Reconstruction Authority, the body responsible for overseeing the reconstruction process, about 70 percent of quake victims of the Valley are yet to start demolishing or reconstructing their damaged houses. In comparison to the Valley, the rest of the country has done much more in the reconstruction phase, as over 50 percent quake survivors of other districts have completed reconstruction works and 30 percent of them are in the process of rebuilding.
In terms of victims receiving the state’s financial help, of the 101,277 beneficiaries of the Valley, only 90,704 have received the first tranche (Rs 50,000) which is the first installment of the total Rs 300,000 housing grant. About 10,000 families are yet to receive the first installment. Among the quake survivors, who received the first tranche, only 34,677 have received the second installment, which means 56,027 have not yet started the reconstruction works. Only 20,262 have either received or applied for the third installment.
Bhaktapur sets an example for local-led heritage reconstruction, while Kathmandu and Patan fall short
The 2015 earthquakes damaged or destroyed a total of 753 heritage sites across the country, according to data from the Department of Archaeology. Out of these, 224 have been reconstructed so far.
In Kathmandu, a total of 178 monuments belonging to the four World Heritage Sites were either destroyed or damaged. Out of this, 78 have been reconstructed so far; 35 are currently being rebuilt while 65 have not been touched. While these are the figures provided by the Department of Architecture, Manju Singh Bhandari, an archeology officer, said that the department has been reevaluating the number of heritages that suffered varying degrees of damage.
In Kathmandu Durbar Square, 31 heritages were damaged or destroyed, out of which 16 have been restored, six are currently being rebuilt and nine have yet to see any work, according to data provided by the Department of Archaeology. Similarly, in Patan Durbar Square, out of total 35 heritages that suffered varying degree of damages, restoration works on 12 have been completed and eight are undergoing reconstruction. In Bhaktapur, nine out of the 21 damaged monuments have been restored.
Going solely by the numbers, it might seem like work is being done at a rapid pace, but these include all manner of heritages, both big and small. If one goes by the large, complex structures alone, it appears Bhaktapur and Patan are in much better shape than Kathmandu.
Middle Bhotekoshi says it may cancel contract with Guangxi
The Middle Bhotekoshi Hydroelectric Project said it might end the contract with the Chinese contractor for the civil and hydro-mechanical works for its failure to follow instructions and resume work. Guangxi Hydroelectric Construction Bureau stopped work on the 102 MW plant situated in Sindhupalchok citing money problems.
Project authorities held a high level meeting with Guangxi representatives who arrived two weeks ago, but the Chinese firm has not produced a written commitment outlining its capital source and a timeline for completion.
Construction work on the hydel plant, which had gathered pace after months of obstructions caused by a series of natural disasters, has again sunk into uncertainty. “The construction of the headworks is at a complete stop, and Guangxi officials are only issuing assurances that they will resolve their money problems,” said Sunil Lama, project chief of Middle Bhotekoshi.
The civil and hydro-mechanical works were assigned to Guangxi under an engineering, procurement and construction contract which requires the firm to procure equipment and materials on its own.
Barpak— then and now
When the 2015 earthquakes hit the village of Barpak, Aash Kumari Ghale was working in the fields with her son and daughter. She rushed home to find it in ruins, but ultimately, she was relieved she didn’t lose any family members, unlike thousands of other families.
Four years after the earthquake, Ghale, 41, has been living in her new home for just nine months. She received Rs 300,000 as a grant from the government for reconstruction, but it took her three years to build the new home. Now, with a son and two daughters—the youngest born after the earthquake—Ghale is looking forward to start anew.
Barpak was the epicentre of 2015’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake, which killed a total of 72 people, injured 150 injured and permanently handicapped five in the village, according to government data. Most villagers have now rebuilt their homes, although it wasn’t thanks to a government grant of Rs 300,000. It cost Aash Kumari a total of Rs 700,000 to complete her home. Her husband sent her additional funds from Qatar, where he has been working for the last 12 years.