Nepal

More than 90 pc progress achieved in post-earthquake reconstruction: CEO

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Kathmandu, December 25

The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) has released a progress report which states that it has made more than 90 percent progress in the reconstruction of private houses.

Chief Executive Officer of the NRA Sushil Gyewali, addressing a press conference held today to mark the completion of five years of the post-earthquake reconstruction and rehabilitation body, said that 91 percent private houses have either been reconstructed or are currently under-construction.

Out of 796,245 beneficiaries who have signed agreement for the government grant, 556,487 (70%) beneficiaries have already built their houses while 168,083 (21%) beneficiaries are constructing their houses, CEO Gyewali told the press conference.

He said that the reconstruction works in Nepal has been very satisfactory compared to other countries who have gone through similar situation.

“This is the largest such reconstruction in the world as far as the scale of destruction is concerned,” Gyewali said. “Therefore, the work we have carried out in the last five years has been highly praised by the international community.”

He also vowed to complete the reconstruction of private houses within the extended period of the NRA and informed that the remaining works will be handed over to the concerned government agencies after the tenure of the NRA expires.

Here is the full text of the address by NRA CEO Sushil Gyewali at the press conference:

The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA), which was established for reconstruction and rehabilitation of the damages caused by the April 2015 earthquake and the subsequent aftershocks, has completed five years today.

On this day, we express our sincere condolences to all those who lost their lives in the earthquake.

In the last five years, we have been able to make a significant progress in the post-earthquake reconstruction and rehabilitation. Using disaster as an opportunity, the NRA adopted the principle of ‘Build Back Better’ and has now managed to rebuild hundreds of thousands of earthquake-resilient structures in 32 earthquake-affected districts while many other structures are at the final stage of construction.

However, in the last year, the spread of coronavirus around the world also impacted Nepal. As you all know, the Nepal government had to lockdown for months to control the spread of the virus that causes coronavirus disease, Covid-19.

Due to the pandemic caused by the Covid-19, constraints in generating necessary resources and the marginalized communities yet to rebuild their houses, the Nepal government has extended the term of the NRA for one year. The meeting of the Council of Ministers held on November 30 extended the NRA’s tenure for one more year from the present term of December 25, as per the Sub-Article 3 of Article 3 of the 2072 Act related to reconstruction of structures damaged in the earthquake.

As per the decision, the NRA will implement the reconstruction work as per the allocated budget for this fiscal year 2077/78 which ends in mid-July 2021.

In the remaining period (July 16, 2021 to December 25, 2021), the NRA will carry out final works of reconstruction of private houses, Singh Durbar, Ranipokhari and Dharahara. During the period, the NRA will update financial details and auditing and prepare all documents related to responsibilities and assets to hand them over to the concerned government agencies.

Despite the political transition, geographical difficulties, lack of budget and management of human resources, the NRA has made significant progress in the reconstruction of damaged structures, rehabilitation of displaced families and improving their livelihood.

We have made more than 90 percent progress in the reconstruction of private houses. Out of 796,245 beneficiaries who have signed agreement for the government grant, 556,487 (70%) beneficiaries have already built their houses while 168,083 (21%) beneficiaries are constructing their houses.

We have addressed the grievances of 634,973 applicants we had received. From this, 106,465 applicants have been added as reconstruction beneficiaries and 67,681 as retrofitting beneficiaries.

A provision has been arranged for listen to unsatisfied applicants through an appellate committee after registering their grievances at the district level.

The NRA would continue to work towards completing the reconstruction of the houses that have been added recently and that had been left to be rebuilt during the remaining period of its mandate. If it could not complete its task by the extended tenure, the responsibility to reconstruct private houses would be handed over the local governments. We sincerely hope that the local governments would fulfill the responsibility, as it would be easier to resolve any disputes at the local level and the local communities too would be involved in the process.

Besides, the NRA is helping in the reconstruction of houses belonging to the vulnerable groups. The NRA carried out a special campaign for this by deputing about 900 roaming masons and 254 social mobilizers. The NRA has already helped rebuild 242 houses and a large number of houses are currently under-construction.

Altogether, 4,257 beneficiaries living in vulnerable areas have been provided with land in safer areas to reconstruct their houses while 11,437 landless people and landless squatters have been granted permission to rebuild their houses where they have been temporarily living at present. It has also decided that grant will be provided to buy land for 1,351 beneficiaries.

Similarly, out of 130 integrated settlements that are being constructed, 50 settlements have already completed while the rest are under-construction.

The NRA has also set a new and last deadline to receive the government grant for reconstruction and retrofitting. As per the decision, the existing beneficiaries have to sign the grant agreement by the end of Mangsir (mid-December 2020) and receive the first tranche of the grant by 15 Poush (30 December).

The beneficiaries who have already received the first tranche but yet to rebuild their houses will have to start reconstruction and apply to the concerned local governments for certification to receive the second tranche by the end of Magh (12 February 2021).

All the reconstruction and retrofitting beneficiaries have to apply to the concerned local governments for certification to receive the third tranche by the end of Baisakh 2078 (mid-May 2021).

Similarly, the NRA also called upon the beneficiaries who want to rebuild the existing house or retrofitting beneficiaries who want to repair their houses to immediately apply at the concerned District Level Project Implementation Units (Building).

We have also made significant progress in restoring the cultural and archeological heritage sites. Out of 920 sites, the reconstruction of 465 sites has been completed while the rest are in the final stages of construction. Out major monument Ranipokhari has been reconstructed while construction is ongoing on the 20th floor of Dharahara and two more floors will be completed soon.

Work is underway at the north, south and eastern facades of the main administrative building of Singh Durbar, as we plan to shift the Office of the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers within Magh (mid-February 2021).

The reconstruction and retrofitting is in full swing at Babarmahal, Kesharmahal, Bal Mandir and Ranoddwip Durbar and other durbars of archeological significance within the Narayanhiti Museum area.

The master plan for integrated Tundhikhel, democratic museum, Narayanhiti Museum, Gorkha Durbar, Nuwakot Durbar and seven other archeological heritage sites are in the approval stage, after which these sites will be developed.

The reconstruction of heritage sites is relatively complex and challenging. Proper consideration must be made concerning competent human resources, building materials, preservation of religious and cultural aspects, agreement with local communities, universal standards on heritage, the time required in wooden artistry and sculpting.

As for the reconstruction of schools, out of 7,553 schools, reconstruction of 6,085 (81%) has been completed while 1,468 (19%) are currently under-construction. The reconstruction of the schools is set to be completed by this fiscal year.

As for the reconstruction of health institutions, out of 1,197 health centers, the reconstruction of 698 health centers has been completed while the rest will be completed within this fiscal year.

As for the reconstruction of public buildings, out of 415 government buildings, the reconstruction of 374 (90%) has been completed while 38 buildings are under-construction.

As for the reconstruction of 216 security sector buildings under the NRA, the reconstruction of 214 of them has been completed while 2 are under-construction.

There has been some progress in the reconstruction of monasteries also. Out of 1,320 damaged monasteries, 895 need to be reconstructed while 402 need to be repaired. Out of these 402 that need to be repaired, 294 have been completed while 108 are being repaired.

Out of 264 monasteries that are more than 100 years old and have more than 2,000 square feet of plinth area, process has begun to rebuild 36 monasteries while the process begun for 101 monasteries that are less than 100 years old and have less than 2,000 square feet of plinth area.

Besides, out of 762 km of roads that required reconstruction, reconstruction of 443 km has been completed while 319 km of roads are in their final stage of completion.

The Department of Drinking Water has reconstructed 1,000 projects.

Like this, we have carried out the post-earthquake reconstruction to complete it within this fiscal year.

Since the establishment of the NRA, we have been carrying out the reconstruction works by mobilizing government employees and experts by establishing Central Level Project Implement Units (CLPIUs) and District Level Project Implementation Units (DPLIUs). We have arranged to coordinate, cooperate and implement the reconstruction works through the concerned local governments after the local level election.

We are working together with the newly-established National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority (NDRRMA) on works related to long-term disaster management.

This has enabled us to handover the remaining works to the concerned government agencies after its term comes to an end and ensure that institutional memory and sustainability is guaranteed. The NRA Steering Committee has also approved our handover plan.

The reconstruction work that we have carried out is the biggest such post-earthquake reconstruction in the world in terms of damages. It is also most challenging due to our geographical terrain and our available human and other resources.

Despite all these issues, Nepal’s post-earthquake reconstruction has now reached a final stage of completion. During the reconstruction, we have not only reconstructed the damaged structures in quantitative manner, but have also brought qualitative changes. This has created about 166 million work days of employment.

Our on-site owner-built model of construction created jobs for the local people while it has supported the local industries produce cement, bricks, rods, zinc sheets, crushers and wood. This has contributed significantly in the national economy. It has also generated the feeling of community development among the local people and established an example of partnership between the local people and the government.

About 800,000 families now have access to banking through their bank accounts. Earthquake-resilient engineering technology has been developed based on the locally-available wood, stones and mud. This would help us realize our dream of making a resilient country by replicating the building resilient houses using locally-available construction material.

Our archeological heritages have been restored to their original forms. The local communities have widely participated in this process. This has helped preserve our arts and culture.

The total cost requirement for reconstruction and rehabilitation as per the five-year plan is Rs. 488 billion. Out of this, Rs. 339 billion have been spent through the Nepal government and the donors.

Though the donors had pledged Rs. 410 billion during the donors’ conference, Rs. 67 billion has been spent on rescue and relief works and other programs and Rs. 49 billion loans from the Indian Exim Bank has been reimbursed to the government. Thus, the actual commitment from the donors stands at Rs. 294 billion. Out of this, Rs. 238 billion has been realized by signing necessary agreements.

Besides, agreements worth Rs. 90 billion have been signed with the non-governmental organizations out of which Rs. 72 billion have been mobilized in various works. Like this, we have ensured that 100 percent of the donors’ pledged amount is mobilized. All the donor agencies and friendly countries have praised the progress in Nepal’s reconstruction which is a matter of pride for us.

At the end, the NRA would continue to work together with the government agencies, non-governmental organizations, international community, various organizations and local communities to fulfill its mandate on the post-earthquake reconstruction and rehabilitation.

The international community has praised Nepal’s achievements in post-earthquake reconstruction and rehabilitation. The experiences and learning we have gained despite various adversities will be exemplary for other countries as well as our future generations. In this context, we have started to document our experiences and efforts and publicizing them through an international conference.

The support and goodwill received from various sectors have enabled us to showcase our achievement, experience and learning gained in Nepal’s reconstruction and rehabilitation work at the global front, with confidence and pride. Taking this opportunity, I would like to thank all the three levels of government, various social and professional organizations, the international community, non-governmental organizations, staff, local communities, common people and media including all those who supported directly and indirectly in the reconstruction work.