In Nepal, politics has always also prevailed upon the genuine issues and concerns of general people. The latest example of this is the neglected state of reconstruction in the aftermath of April 25 earthquake and subsequent aftershocks.
The devastations wrecked by the powerful jolts politicos have been completely forgotten with the politicos getting obsessed with only political issues.
Of course, the constitution draft prepared by the four top has set off a bloody political tremour especially in the southern plains. And it does take rocket scientist to say that the very problem needs urgent solution. However, this has become a convenient excuse to undermine the reconstruction and rehabilitation process. The prolonged and perplexing delay in activating the Reconstruction Authority, supposed to fast track the very process, attests to this fact.
Over two million people rendered homeless by the quake are still forces to live in tents and tin shelter.
In fact, the lives and livelihoods of three million people in 14 districts affected by the earthquake hinges on the Authority.
After much dillydallying, the government appointed the CEO of the Authority but it has so far not designed concrete reconstruction and rehabilitation projects. Nor has it specified the modus operandi regarding the execution of such projects.
There is also utter uncertainty as to how the government is going to mobilise the Rs 440 billion promised by the foreign donors for reconstruction.
It is not the lack of financial resources that is a prime problem to kick -start the reconstruction process. Rather, the big obstacle is the chronic inability of the government to spend whatever money it has. It is unable to spend even 50% of the budget that is set aside for capital expenditure.
The government’s poor performance on development expenditure gives ample space to doubt whether the reconstruction budget will actually work.
The deep-rooted tendency among the political parties/cadres to siphon off development budget is an open secret. So, the possibility of the display of financial shenanigans on the part of them regarding the money meant for reconstruction is also simply high.
Unethical practices in the construction sector are also something that is hostile to the reconstruction process. Contractors often bemoan that they are compelled to pay certain percent of the total cost of the project as commission to various shady parties. They range from political leaders/ cadres and hooligans at the local level to high profile government officials at the center.
Incidentally, there has long been a great scarcity of adequate number of every sort of labourers-skilled, semiskilled and unskilled in the country. Following the quake, the problem has assumed more alarming proportion.
This is almost sure to mar the reconstruction process with short supply of labourers coupled with exorbitant labour costs.
No doubt, the prime responsibility to move forward the much needed reconstruction and rehabilitation process rests on the government. As such, it must address the anomalies besetting the process effectively and efficiently.