Wednesday, July 12, 2017

NRA approves Rs 145 billion budget for next fiscal year

The Nepal Reconstruction Authority (NRA) has approved Rs 145.93 billion budget for the fiscal year 2017-18 despite sluggish progress in the post-quake reconstruction in the current fiscal year.
The budget is an increment of 31 per cent compared to the current fiscal year as the government had allocated around Rs 111 billion for the current fiscal year 2016-17. However, the NRA has been able to spend less than half to only Rs 42.42 billion due to sluggish progress in the reconstruction drive.
"The budget for the next fiscal year is flexible as the size of recurrent expenditure has increased," NRA chief executive officer Govind Raj Pokharel said. "The budget enables us to short out issues that may surface as the work progresses," he said, explaining that the authority prepared the working plan with emphasis on increasing income, investigation of construction technology and materials, geology and gender and social inclusion apart from participatory approach in the reconstruction process.
Based on the working plan, the NRA will have to identify households under threat and beneficiaries by August 2018. The grant agreement with earthquake survivors, who wish to relocate on their own, should be completed by mid-October 2017. The NRA has so far identified 112 settlements in Selang of Sindhupalchok, Keraunja of Gorkha, Khalde of Rasuwa, Urleni of Nuwakot and Besimpa of Dolakha as the vulnerable zones. Quake survivors living in those areas are being resettled in integrated settlements.
The 10th steering committee meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba today also directed the NRA to expedite the reconstruction drive, making a decision to specify time for distributing grant for the construction of private homes.
However, vice-chair of the NRA steering committee meeting and leader of CPN-UML Bhim Rawal accused NRA for its failure to work according to the action plan. He criticised the sluggish work in progress of the NRA and the failure to meet the action plans. He also urged the stakeholders to be serious in the reconstruction citing that it is the responsibility of all to put their efforts in the reconstruction job.
The steering committee meeting of NRA comprises of the Premier as the chairperson of the board committee and leader of the main opposition party as vice-chairperson.
The meeting has also authorised the NRA to open eight contact offices that will look after 17 earthquake affected districts on top of those already in place in the 14 worst-hit districts for facilitating the reconstruction process.
The steering committee meeting has also endorsed an authority’s working plan that has designated specific time for different rebuilding activities, spokesperson of the authority Yam Lal Bhushal said. "The allocated budget will be utilised for reconstruction and reestablishment projects through various departments," he said, adding that the meeting has also endorsed the action plans and policies for upcoming fiscal year.
The authority will implement the plans and policies from the very first day of the new fiscal year. These plans have paved a way for the reconstruction projects.
“Before my tenure, it had been told that around 65,000 houses were completed," he said, adding that in reality, only few were constructed. "Construction of around 40,000 earthquake resilient houses has been completed, while over 110,000 homes are under construction," he added. “Over 150,000 households will have roof before Dashain festival." Besides, the NRA has aimed to complete construction of 1,000 schools in the second phase by mid-December 2017; 2,000 schools in the third phase by mid-December 2018 and 1,000 schools in the fourth phase by mid-December 2019.
The devastating earthquake in 2015 had not only floored the ancient temples and residential houses but also had severe impact on schools, and health posts apart from the police posts. By now only 2,100 schools have been rebuilt, according to the NRA that also plans to complete reconstruction of health facilities in the next three years. Reconstruction of 230 health facilities has been completed so far, while 140 are under construction.
The NRA will also be launching a pilot programme for preserving ancient, indigenous settlements and heritage sites in places like Sankhu, Bungamati, Khokana, Nuwakot, Gorkha and Dolkha in the fiscal year 2017-18.
The NRA has also been authorised to extend Rs 50,000 additional housing grant for six traditional settlements – Sankhu, Khokana, Bungamati, Gorkha Durbar Square area, Nuwakot Durbar Square area and Bhimeshwore temple area of Dolakha district – and waiver of fees for the approval of designs of houses from concerned municipal offices.
There are altogether 3,000 houses in these six settlements. "We can expect the traditional ambiance in these settlements to remain intact after rebuilding,” Pokharel added.

No comments: