Housing project for Bote families in limboThe budget for the People’s Housing Programme froze due to negligence of authorities, beneficiaries say.
Sanobhai Bote, 35, desperately needs a new house as his hut at Ramauli in Manahari Rural Municipality, Makwanpur, is no longer habitable. His six-member family has been living in a poorly built hut for the last couple of years and are hardly protected from the changing seasons.
Sanobhai was elated when the Bagmati provincial government two years ago announced plans to set up an integrated settlement for 14 Bote families at Ramauli of Mahahari Rural Municipality. He was set to be one of the beneficiaries.
However, nine impoverished Bote families at Ramauli are yet to receive their houses since the budget allocated for the programme froze in the fiscal year 2020/21 due to the negligence of the authorities concerned.
“We thought that we would get a new house this year. But the government failed to fulfill its promise,” said Sita Maya, a Bote woman enlisted as a beneficiary for the People’s Housing Programme.
The Bote community is a marginalised group of people that largely depend on fishing for their livelihood.
According to the agreement, the Urban Development and Building Office of the provincial government was set to construct nine houses and a community building while Manahari Rural Municipality was given the responsibility to construct five other houses.
The rural municipality handed over the five houses that it constructed at the cost of Rs 2 million to the beneficiaries a few months ago. It had even arranged for a land plot for the construction of all 14 houses.
However, the provincial government failed to utilise the budget for the construction of the nine houses in the past two fiscal years. The Bagmati provincial government had allocated Rs 5 million to build nine houses and a community building for the Bote families in the fiscal year 2019/20 but the budget froze. In the fiscal year 2020/21, the provincial executive allocated the same amount but the budget remained unused once again.
“The Bote people are languishing in flimsy huts that offer little protection from the elements while the budget allocated to build concrete houses for those needy people remains frozen for the last two fiscal years,” said Ekaraj Uprety, the chairman of Manahari Rural Municipality. He claimed the budget was left unused due to the lackadaisical response and carelessness of the concerned authorities. “I visited the Physical Infrastructure Development Ministry and the Urban Development and Building Office time and again but the construction work could not proceed.”
Manoj Lamichhane, the spokesperson at the Urban Development and Building Office in Hetauda, said that construction works could not be initiated as the ministry did not formulate working guidelines to build the houses.