Senior govt officials reluctant to join NRAThe National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) faces an uphill battle to recruit the required human resource—partly due to the reluctance of senior government officials to work under an “untested” chief executive and the lack of clarity on career prospects, sources say.
The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) faces an uphill battle to recruit the required human resource—partly due to the reluctance of senior government officials to work under an “untested” chief executive and the lack of clarity on career prospects, sources say.
One joint-secretary has already declined the offer to join the NRA. Instead, he has requested a transfer to the National Planning Commission. According to a highly-placed source at the Ministry of General Administration (MoGA), Madhu Marasini, chief of the International Economic Cooperation and Coordination Division of the Finance Ministry, refused to join the authority. Marasini’s request is under consideration at the Cabinet.
An Organisation and Management survey conducted by the Prime Minister’s Office and the authority has concluded that at least 208 staffers including 17 joint-secretaries and 36 under-secretaries will be required for the authority.
The NRA, the central body responsible for reconstruction and rehabilitation of the quake-ravaged settlements, heritage sites and infrastructure, has fixed a two-tier organisational structure—central and sub-regional, with local agencies to be mobilised for rebuilding at the ground level.
“Junior officials seem interested to join the authority, while at the higher level, very few have shown interest,” said MoGA Secretary Tankamani Sharma. Senior officials including Secretary Sharma of the General Administration Ministry and the authority officials are scheduled to discuss the staff recruitment process on Tuesday.
Senior officials are concerned about their future prospects while the juniors want to be clear about perks in the office where they may have to put in extra effort.
“Civil servants are not interested to join this office because they may have to work round the clock. It is not clear what kind of facilities they receive for additional work,” said a source close to the authority’s chief executive. A senior MoGA officer said there are no joint-secretaries in the required number to be readily deputed. This would require fresh recruitment, but the lack of clarity on career prospects and the kind of facilities they receive in the new office are the deterrents, said the official seeking anonymity citing the sensitivity of the matter.
The NRA wrote to the General Administration Ministry on Sunday to provide staff for the Authority. The NRA categorically demanded the deputation of Joint-secretary Suresh Adhikari (Foreign Ministry) and Kali Prasad Parajuli (Home Ministry) and other officials without further delay.
“We have asked the ministry to provide at least 50-60 employees with expertise in planning, engineering and monitoring,” said NRA Acting Secretary Madhusudan Adhikari. In the lack of enough senior officials, junior ones deputed from the PMO run day to day works at the Authority. According to the NRA Act, besides officials deputed from the government, the CEO appoints employees at various levels on contract basis.
Heritage rebuilding on course
Gaurav Thapa (Kathmandu)
With the symbolic inauguration of the reconstruction campaign by the President on Saturday, rebuilding works of damaged heritage sites are also set to gain momentum, more than eight months after the devastating earthquake and its aftershocks hit the country.
“Reconstruction of 115 heritage sites across the country will begin this year,” said Bhesh Narayan Dahal, director general of the Department of Archaeology (DoA). “We have been allocated a total budget of Rs780 million for the purpose this fiscal year.”
According to the department, a total of 754 historical, cultural and religious monuments in 20 districts were damaged by the Great Earthquake and its aftershocks. Among them, 133 have been destroyed, while 621 sustained a varied degrees of damage. According to the Post Disaster Needs Assessment report prepared by the National Planning Commission, an estimated Rs20.56 billion will be required to rebuild the damaged monuments.
The delay in formation of the National Reconstruction Authority had limited the DoA to carrying out survey and excavation works. But after the appointment of its CEO last month, the reconstruction process has picked up pace.
The department has already called tenders for rebuilding 19 monuments, Dahal said, adding tenders for the remaining monuments would be called soon. “Of the 115 sites chosen for this year, 43 will be multi-year projects,” he said.
Out of Rs74 billion allocated for the National Reconstruction Fund by the government in this year’s budget, Rs2 billion will be spent on the reconstruction of archaeological structures. The budget also envisions a separate Heritage Fund for which contributions will be collected from Nepalis around the world through ‘Our Heritage-Our Responsibility’ campaign. On top of the reconstruction fund, an additional Rs17 billion has been allocated for general rehabilitation and reconstruction of damaged structures.
According to Dahal, the temples of Vajrayogini and Khadgayogini in Sankhu; Dashavatar and Bansagopal in Hanumandhoka; Taleju in Patan, Janga Hiranya in Tripureshwor; Bhimsen in Pharping; Anantapur at Swayambhu and Gujeshwori in the Pashupati area are among the sites that will be rebuilt this year.
All of Valley’s seven sites which were included on the World Heritage List in 1979 for their archaeological, historical, cultural and religious significance–Swayambhunath Stupa, Changu Narayan Mandir, Boudhanath Stupa, Pashupatinath Mandir and the Durbar Squares of Hanumandhoka, Patan and Bhaktapur—have also sustained damage in the earthquake.
The Kathmandu Valley escaped being put on Unesco’s List of World Heritage in Danger during the World Heritage Committee’s review meeting held in Germany last year. The committee has given Nepal one year to take correctional action before another review meeting. The status of monuments and delay in reconstruction works pose a serious threat that Kathmandu might be taken off the heritage list.
The DoA is also adding technical manpower—40 architects, 10 civil engineers, 15 overseers and three archaeologists—within a month for its reconstruction efforts, Dahal said.