20-26 January 2017 #842

Cliffhanger

SAMARTH / AF-Iteco

The bad news is that it required political intervention by the Nepali Congress to bring back Govinda Raj Pokharel to head the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA). The good news is that during his previous tenure after the 2015 earthquake, Pokharel had moved quickly on preparing a Needs Assessment report and to convene a donor pledging conference.

This week, Pokharel hit the ground running to launch the distribution of the second installment of the Rs 200,000 rebuilding grant to survivors in Gorkha, Sindhuli and Makwanpur. However, as our report (page 14-15) shows, many families in Nuwakot have not even made it to the list to receive the first installment.

The delays in distributing the rest of the reconstruction grant and excluding eligible families from the list points to government negligence and mismanagement. The buck stops in Kathmandu, but the delays in delivery are due to political interference in the NRA as well as lack of coordination between line ministeries.

Pokharel was appointed by the NC government in 2015 and was sacked when KP Oil became prime minister to be replaced by UML apparatchik Sushil Gyewali who faced obstacles because his party was in the opposition. He was finally sacked last week, and Pokharel brought back. In an interview (page 14-15) Pokharel assured us no genuine earthquake victim would be left out during his watch.

Meanwhile, in roadless Upper Gorkha cut off by landslides since the earthquake, engineers have built Nepal’s first ever cantilever pathways (pictured, above). Mule trains carrying earthquake relief, school children and trekkers on the Manaslu Circuit have returned as the steel paths have made it possible to follow the narrow gorges of the Budi Gandaki in Yaru Bagar and

Syar Khola.

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