India pledged to build around 300 quake-damaged health posts. Till date, it has not finished even one.The reconstruction of a majority of the health facilities under other foreign donors, however, has either been completed or is nearing completion.
Around 1,000 health facilities were destroyed or damaged across the country during the April 2015 earthquakes. Soon after the disaster, in June, when Nepal held the donors’ conference, support poured in from the international community for reconstruction projects. Different countries pledged their support to rebuild health facilities.
Four years on, the construction of a majority of the damaged health facilities under foreign assistance has either been completed or is nearing completion. But construction of those which should have been carried out under Indian assistance has failed to even take off.
The Indian government had committed to providing grant assistance to reconstruct 157 health facilities and soft loan through Export-Import Bank to build 130 to 140 other health facilities.
An agreement was signed between the two governments in which the Indian side had agreed to provide a grant of $50 million to reconstruct health facilities, according to Raju Neupane, deputy director at the Central Project Implementation Unit under the National Reconstruction Authority, the government agency that is overseeing the entire reconstruction.
“Apart from the signing of the agreement, no further progress has been made in the last three and a half years,” Neupane told the Post. “The Indian side has not even appointed a consultant yet.”
As per the agreement, the Indian side was to prepare detailed project reports of the health facilities to be built on its grant and soft loan.
Due to the delay in the appointment of the consultant, even the detailed project reports are yet to to prepared.
The National Reconstruction Authority itself had prepared detailed project reports and building designs with the help of the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction of over 30 health facilities and forwarded them to the Ministry of Finance, which in turn forwarded the reports and designs to the Indian Embassy for approval.
“We sent them the proposal some four months ago, but they have not responded,” said Neupane. “During regular meetings with concerned officials of the Indian Embassy, they talk positively and assure support.”
NRA officials said that Export-Import Bank of India would pass the loan only after it approved the detailed project report and would itself select the contractor.
Most of the health facilities, which the Indian government had agreed to provide grant, are in Ramechhap, Sindhupalchok, Dolakha, Rasuwa, Bhaktapur, Dhading, Gorkha, Nuwakot, Kavrepalanchowk and Kaski districts, which were severely affected by the devastating quake.
Pranaya Upadhyay, an official at the Ministry of Health and Population, said that due to the delay in the reconstruction of the damaged health facilities, health workers are compelled to provide service from damaged buildings, risking their own lives as well as their patients’.
“We have been discussing whether we should rebuild the health facilities on our own and ask the Indian side for reimbursement,” said Upadhyay. “Or whether we should try to find some other alternative.”
When the Post approached the Indian Embassy, it said, as per agreements signed between the government of India and the government of Nepal in August 2017, $50 million grant was allocated for the reconstruction of 157 health facilities in 12 districts of Nepal.
“The government shared detailed project reports of 13 health facilities in Nuwakot district on April 23, 2019,” said a source, who did not want to disclose his identity, at the embassy in an email response. “These detailed project reports are under consideration at the [concerned] ministry. Ten more detailed project reports were received yesterday and they will also be sent to the ministry after the examination.”
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