Kathmandu/New Delhi, July 7: Seventy four days after a massive earthquake left 14 of Nepal’s 75 districts in a state of devastation, its government does not hesitate to admit that the nation is still in relief and rehabilitation mode, but working assiduously towards restoring a sense of normalcy.
In interactions with political leaders, the hotel and tourist lobbies of the Himalayan nation, what comes across is a sense of acceptance that humans can never battle the vagaries of nature, but can certainly carry on with a sense of renewed hope for a better and improved tomorrow.
Nepal’s determined Home Minister Vamdev Gautam said: “We are still at the relief stage. After this, we will plan out the rebuilding and reconstruction phase. Statistically, ten lakh buildings have been destroyed and approximately 50 lakh people have been left homeless, and are living in tented accommodation. After the monsoon, we will be doing it (rehabilitation) with more speed. We will overcome this tragedy.”
K.P. Oli, the chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML), said it was an important time in Nepal’s history, and added that his nation was in a transitional phase.
Acknowledging the enthusiastic response of the international community to the tragedy that claimed over 8000 lives, he said that a recent meeting of global donors had delivered some good and positive outcomes, and believed that the average Nepali is inching closer to normalcy post the earthquake.
“The enormity of the calamity took time to understand, and once the extent of the damage dawned on us, 10,000 volunteers of my party stepped in across different affected districts, whether in the Terai or in the hilly areas to help. So far, 77,276 houses and 1,013 schools have been constructed. The debris of 22,000 structures has been cleared. We have put in 750,000 man working days, not hours into this effort.”
He was particularly critical about the negative portrayal of the tragedy by the media and other “vested interests”.
“Some nations projected a very grim picture of Nepal. Some issued adverse travel advisories to their citizens not to visit Nepal. There was absolutely no reason to do this. We feel there was a campaign by some non-government organizations and other agencies to block the release of funds to our government which was perceived and projected as corrupt. These agencies used this tragedy to their advantage. I can emphatically say that only 15 percent of our tourism sector has been affected by this earthquake, the balance 85 percent is intact,” Oli said.
The CPN-UML leader said that a whole lot of people and agencies are monitoring the relief and rehabilitation effort, and the record distribution of aid.
Preliminary estimates suggest that there has been a loss of between USD 6.5 to 6.6 billion dollars, and that Nepal is initially expecting to receive approximately USD 10 billion.
Oli said this was a workable amount, but certainly not enough. He said that donor agencies have committed to provide more funds as and when required.
Nepal’s Home Minister Gautam said it could take Nepal approximately 15 years to recover fully from the tragedy.
(With ANI Inputs)