Govt apathetic towards retrofitting houses

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Kathmandu, July 6

Amid accelerated reconstruction of houses fully damaged by the earthquake in 2015, the government’s apathy in reconstruction of houses partially damaged by the quake — those that require retrofitting — is posing a risk to the lives of quake survivors across the country.

This is because poor quake survivors whose houses were partially damaged by the earthquake have been dwelling in the same house since more than three years without carrying out the necessary strengthening measures. However, it is the lack of money and not the will or desire that has been forcing poor quake-survivors to continue to live inside such vulnerable dwellings.

“We do not have any option. Reconstructing the house as per scientific standards is beyond our means as we do not have easy access to the rebuilding grant being provided by the government,” said Bhagawati Khatiwada, a residence of Dhading who has been included in the beneficiary list of the retrofitting grant of the government and is currently
living inside her damaged house.

Interestingly, Khatiwada does not know whether she is eligible as a beneficiary of retrofitting grant or not.

Khatiwada is only one of the many examples of quake survivors who are forced to dwell inside risky houses that urgently require retrofitting.

Purshottam Adhikari, a resident of Sindhuli and the beneficiary of the retrofitting grant, has visited his ward office multiple times to know about the retrofitting grant. However, he is forced to return empty-handed every time.

“My house is made of mud and there are multiple cracks. If there is a big tremor, we do not know whether our house will be able to withstand it and we live in constant fear of losing our lives,” said Adhikari and urged the government to accelerate the process of distributing the committed grant.

Khadga Bahadur Ghalan of Makawanpur has taken the first tranche of retrofitting grant (Rs 50,000). However, he has not started retrofitting process of his house citing that the given money is insufficient. “There is no other option than to live in our rickety house as we do not have the required funds to restructure it,” said Ghalan.

The government has identified 52,054 households so far as retrofitting beneficiaries whose houses require to be retrofitted. However, since the government has not given it much priority, the retrofitting process of quake-damaged houses has not begun properly across the country and quake survivors are still living in such houses without restructuring it.

Officials at the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) acknowledge that the retrofitting process was under less priority of the government. “We were more focused on reconstruction of fully-damaged houses in the past. Similarly, the
process of retrofitting houses was delayed due to lack of necessary guidelines for the same,” said Krishna Prasad Dawadi, spokesperson for NRA.

It is only since April that NRA started the distribution of retrofitting grant to the beneficiaries.

However, a few NRA officials also said that the retrofitting process of quake-damaged houses is being delayed also because beneficiaries are unwilling to accept the grant of Rs 100,000 that the government is providing to retrofit houses citing that it is insufficient.

Of the 52,054 listed beneficiaries of retrofitting grant, NRA statistics show that only 7,190 have taken the first tranche while none have taken the second tranche of the retrofitting grant.

Written by Nikki Hamal
This news first appeared on https://thehimalayantimes.com/business/govt-apathetic-towards-retrofitting-houses/ under the title “Govt apathetic towards retrofitting houses”. Bolchha Nepal is not responsible or affiliated towards the opinion expressed in this news article.