Ramechhap: The technical team dispatched by the National Reconstruction Authority to Gaushwara in Doramba Rural Municipality-4, Ramechhap, for post-earthquake reconstruction work has complained of receiving undue pressure from the locals to include them in the ‘beneficiary list’.
Following previous complaints by many quake-displaced people of being left out from the first beneficiary list, the National Reconstruction Authority initiated a fresh survey in Ramechhap district two weeks ago. The survey found some genuine victims left out of the beneficiary list.
However, an overwhelming number of locals have now filled applications to include them in the beneficiary list. According to the engineers, some locals have been pressuring the technical team on the ground to include their names on the list so that they can claim Rs 300,000 provided by the government as housing reconstruction aid.
The technicians deployed for the fresh survey said that almost everybody in the village with a citizenship certificate filled up the ‘complaint form’ urging the team to include them in the beneficiary list. According to them, almost all members from every family have been coming forward to claim the housing reconstruction aid. Even the local leaders of various political parties and people’s representative have been putting pressure on the technicians and the employees to include those who do not qualify for the grant in the beneficiary list.
According to the National Reconstruction Authority’s district unit, around 49,000 households in the district have been enlisted in the beneficiary list. But the latest national census conducted in 2011 states that there are about 43,000 households in the district. Out of the total houses in Ramechhap, about 40 percent were destroyed by the earthquake of April 25, 2015, and its powerful aftershocks.
Prabhakar Lal Karna, chief at the District Level Project Implementation Unit, said that around 20,000 more families have filled up the complaint forms of late. The authority is scheduled to complete the latest survey by mid-June.
“As many as five persons of a same family have received the housing reconstruction aid. They are attempting to bag the aid in the name of other family members as well,” said an NRA technician. The technicians complained that the elected representatives did not help them identify the real earthquake victims. “Instead of recommending genuine quake victims to the authority, the people’s representatives urged us to include all the people who filled up the form regardless of whether they qualify for the grant or not,” he said.
Around 500 people filled the complaint form at Bhatauli of Manthali Municipality-7 alone.
As per the existing legal provisions, the National Reconstruction Authority should survey houses destroyed by the earthquake through a ward-level complaint hearing committee headed by the ward chairperson.
“The verification process of the earthquake victims should complete soon. Also, it has come to my notice that a large number of ‘fake’ victims have come forward to fill the complaint form,” said Mayor of Manthali Municipality Ramesh Kumar Basnet.
Meanwhile, some genuine earthquake victims still remain deprived of the housing aid.
“There are real victims who lost their homes during the disaster. They should be the ones to receive the aid immediately. The sheer number of fake victims has thrown the authority out of track,” said Prem Bahadur Khadka, chief of the District Coordination Committee.
By Tika Prasad Bhatta in The Kathmandu Post - May 13, 2019