Genuine victims deprived of housing reconstruction grant after many families use fraudulent documents to misuse aidLocal officials told the Post that three or four members of a single family have received the reconstruction aid, and they are using the newly built homes as shelter for their livestock
Nandi Keshar Gautam has been living in a temporary hut since he lost his home to the 2015 earthquake. He has submitted all the documents the reconstruction authority has asked for to qualify for a grant to rebuild his home. However, his name is still not on the list of recipients for a reconstruction grant.
“I filled up the complaint form twice,” the former chairman of the then Kattike Deurali VDC said, “but my name has yet to be included on the beneficiary list. I don’t know what more I have to do.”
Cases of genuine victims like Gautam who have been deprived of relief and housing reconstruction aid are aplenty. Most of the victims say the government and the local representatives are apathetic towards their protracted ordeal, adding to their wait.
“I have filled up the complaint form three times already,” said Kedar Bahadur Chhetri of Bethanchok Municipality who has also been living in a temporary shelter for the past four years. “I also personally appealed to the authorities to help me rebuild my house but my requests fell on deaf ears.”
Gautam and Chhetri are not the only victims direly in need of the housing reconstruction aid-hundreds of villagers like them have been left out of the beneficiary list and no one knows when they might qualify for the grant. Although victims like Gautam and Chhetri have been struggling to reconstruct their quake-ravaged houses, a large number of people are found to have been misusing the reconstruction aid granted to them as per the beneficiary list.
Following complaints by many quake-displaced victims of being left out from the first beneficiary list, the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) carried out a fresh survey in the district recently so that they can identify genuine victims and put them on the beneficiary list.
“On one hand, we have people who are in genuine need of the aid, and on the other, we have people producing fake documents to get the government aid,” said Loknath Regmi, a local official. “At this point, we simply cannot ascertain the exact number of genuine victims who have been left out.”
As per the existing legal provisions, the NRA should survey houses destroyed by the earthquake through a ward-level complaint hearing committee headed by the ward chairperson.
Tej Bahadur Tamang of Chauri Deurali village in Kavre has rented out his recently constructed house-built with the housing reconstruction aid provided by the government-to his neighbour. The Tamang family has also built another house with the aid received in the name of Tej’s brother, Bir Bahadur, who is currently abroad for employment. The Tamang family use the second house to keep their domesticated animals, while they live in the old mud-and-stone house that had survived the April 25 earthquake and its powerful aftershocks.
Tej Bahadur is just a case in point. Local representatives in the district told the Post that three or four members of a single family are known to have received the housing reconstruction aid.
“As many as four houses have been built by a single family with the aid received in the names of different family members,” said Tara Devi Chaulagain, the deputy chief of the rural municipality. “Since most villagers live in Banepa, Dhulikhel and Kathmandu, the new houses are being used to keep cows, buffaloes and goats. Meanwhile, many genuine victims are still deprived of the housing aid.”
Resham Prasad Chaulagain, the ward chairman of Chauri Deurali, also admitted that there has been a misuse of the government’s aid.
“There are 54 families in one of the settlements in my ward,” said Chaulagain. “But so far, 56 houses have been reconstructed in the settlement, many of which are being used as sheds for animals.”