Red tape hampers relief distribution[courtesy: ekantipur.com]

KATHMANDU, MAY 04 – Even as the government has pledged cash amounts to the family members of those who died or were injured in the earthquake, document requirement has made the monetary package hard to access.

Till date, the government has released Rs1.35 billion for households of those who died in last Saturday’s devastating earthquake. The progress on distributing cash to victims, according to the government, is not satisfactory.

While local authorities admit that they are facing hurdles in distributing relief packages and cash amounts to the needy families, due to the lack of effective distribution mechanism, this process is facing hurdles on the bureaucratic front as well.

According to Basudev Ghimire, Chief District Officer in Dhading, officials have so far mobilised cash relief distribution teams to just 11 out of the 46 VDCs in the district. While the government has already sanctioned Rs100 million for relief, the district administration has been able to spend to the tune of Rs 20 million primarily because of the requirements involved in the process. It may take 4-5 days for the victims’ relatives to receive the monetary aid, and that is if they have all the necessary papers with them.

“We are still struggling to provide relief materials to the northern parts of the district. It is difficult to provide the relief package right now. It will take time,” said CDO Ghimire.

The absence of elected people’s representatives at the local level is also hampering cash distribution to victims on time. “Since the relatives of those deceased or injured are forced to prove their relationship with the victims in order to qualify for the monetary aid, the process is lengthy and convoluted,” said Bhaktapur CDO Anil Kumar Thakur.

Thakur said some people were returned empty-handed as they could not produce required documents when asked. In view of normalising earthquake victims’ woes, the government has already announced to provide Rs140,000 to each family of the dead and Rs25,000 to families of those who are unable to reconstruct their houses on their own. So far, very few bereaved families have received the amount.

Acknowledging the sluggishness in relief distribution , Home Ministry officials have stressed the need to increase the government’s presence at the local level. “All bureaucrats should be involved to address this crisis,” said Home Ministry spokesman Laxmi Prasad Dhakal.

Retired bureaucrats, however, have different takes. They emphasise involving stakeholders including police and the private sector to fasten relief distribution .

Former Home Secretary Bhoj Raj Pokharel said the victims would not get the cash provisions on time unless all the stakeholders are involved in relief distribution . “It’s important to shorten the bureaucratic procedure in order to provide immediate relief to the needy,” said Pokharel.

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