Reconstruction work in Sindhuli moves at a snail's paceAside from technical issues, delay in reconstruction work in the district is a result of a long bureaucratic process that has barred them from receiving reconstruction aid.
For the past four years, Binod Kumar Shrestha of Kamalamai Municipality in Sindhuli district, has been planning to construct a quake-resistant house. His plan, however, hasn’t been able to materialise because the municipality office is yet to pass his house design. According to him, the municipality office has not given its approval to his house design stating that the land plot is too close to the BP Highway.
As per the municipality’s policy, houses that fall near the BP highway must be at least 21 metres from the highway. But since the Department of Roads is yet to decide on the width of the highway, many earthquake survivors with land near the highway have not been able to construct their houses post-earthquake.
The municipality’s provision and the department’s delayed response has led many like Shrestha to wait for approval of their house design from the municipality before they begin construction of their houses. Khadga Bahadur Khatri, mayor of the municipality, said that they have requested the department to look into the matter but haven’t heard back from them. “The concerned authority is yet to fix the road marking and we can’t approve house designs without confirming the width of the road,” said Khatri.
Shrestha, aware of the department’s provision, said, “My new house plan adheres to the municipality’s rule of keeping a distance of 21 meters from the highway area to my house but I still haven’t received the approval.”
The government plans to complete reconstruction work in the district within five years but according to the District Project Implementation Unit, only 50 percent of the quake victims in the district have reconstructed their houses so far.
Surya Prakash Bista, chief at the unit, said that out of 38,054 only 19,268 quake victims have received a third installment of the reconstruction aid in the district. As per the record of the unit office, 2.1 percent of quake victims have not visited the office to sign the housing reconstruction aid agreement.
Lok Bahadur Devkota of Kamalamai Municipality believes that aside from technical issues, the delay in reconstruction work in the district is also due to the long bureaucratic process involved in receiving the housing reconstruction aid. “The process of receiving the housing grant is a long and tedious one,” he said. Quake victims qualify for the housing aid after an engineer from the ward office recommends the victim’s name to be added in the grant list. The request is then sent to the Urban Development and Building Division Office and then to the District Project Implementation Office, which then forwards the request to the Treasury Office to verify the details of the quake victim before the grant money reaches the bank. This process takes about six months.
The government provides Rs 300,000 to quake victims to construct a new house. A beneficiary gets Rs 50,000 in the first instalment followed by Rs 150,000 and Rs 100,000 in the second and third instalments. To retrofit a house, the rebuilding authority provides Rs 100,000 to quake survivors.