Papers lost, earthquake victims unable to claim relief[courtesy: THE TIMES OF INDIA]

by Deeptiman Tiwary, TNN

KATHMANDU/DHADING: After an endless wait for rescue and relief, villagers in remote areas of Nepal have now hit red tape. Compensation released by the government is subject to furnishing of documents. With most villagers having had their homes destroyed, documents are lost too. Many families which have lost their men have no clue about documents. The result is that much of the Rs 1.35 billion (Nepali currency) released by the government is lying idle.

The Nepal government has released compensation on two counts: for those who have lost family members and those whose houses were destroyed and cannot be rebuilt. Every family which has lost a member is supposed to get Rs 1.4 lakh in Nepali currency (NC) while those needing reconstruction help are supposed to get NC Rs 25,000.

Shankar Lama began plying his taxi on the third day of the quake even as his family with two children under three years slept on a footpath without a tent in Kathmandu. His house near Shobha Bhagwati bridge collapsed on April 25. “I have no money to build a new house. The government is asking for documents which are all in the rubble. I haven’t been able to pull out a mattress to sleep from there. That is why I am out on the job. I have to earn,” he said.

The situation is worse in the remote villages. Kalpana Dhungana’s father-in-law died when her house in Jiwanpur village of Dhading collapsed. Her husband left the family behind to look for work just three days after the quake. “They are the ones who had documents. Government servants ask me to prove that I am related to my father-in-law. I have barely been able to pull out my utensils out of the house to cook,” she said.

Local media reports said that in Dhading, authorities have been able to distribute cash relief to just 11 out of the 46 village development committees. The government has sanctioned NC Rs 100 million for relief in the district but only NC Rs 20 million was distributed.

Although district authorities are hard at work trying to reach all affected families, the scale of the tragedy and procedural requirements have meant that their best efforts have come a cropper. A population already frustrated with delay in rescue and relief is angry at its political class for this.

Even though the Nepal government has said that various countries have only pledged financial support and money has not reached Kathmandu yet, people have already begun to suspect wrongdoing on part of the government. “So much money has come from abroad. But nothing is reaching us. I have learnt that if the government releases that foreign aid, each household will get Rs 10 lakh. But our politicians want the money for themselves,” said Abdul Sattar from Sankhu, which has suffered widespread damage.

Taxi driver Shankar Lama said in the next elections, he will not vote for any political party. “There is no point voting. Our lot never changes, with or without a tragedy of this scale,” he said.

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Konviktion’s addition:

Lesson learned from Nepal Earthquake. In this age of Information Technology where saving data is just a matter of few minutes, apart from the hard copies hold by the residents the Govt could also keep soft copies of residents identity at least two fold or three fold so that any time that data can be accessed or in any case the hard copies get lost.[ like it happened in Nepal earthquake] These are the lame excuses. I believe there are alternative ways to find out solution……either from voter id list or confirmation from some “so and so” of the same locality.

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