Nepal president okays ordinance on post-quake reconstruction

Kathmandu June 23 (IANS) Nearly two months after a massive earthquake rocked Nepal, President Ram Baran Yadav on Tuesday approved an ordinance to facilitate the setting up of a reconstruction authority headed by Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, media reports said.

The authority, designed to supervise post-quake reconstruction following a 7.9-magnitude earthquake on April 25 and ensuing aftershocks, comes ahead of an international donors’ conference in Kathmandu on Nepal’s reconstruction post-earthquake, The Himalayan Times reported.

“The authority is very much essential to convince the international community during the conference to extend support to Nepal in its bid to rebuild the country,” the newspaper quoted a Nepalese official as having said.

The massive earthquake and aftershocks that jolted the Himalayan nation, killed 8,832 people and left 22,000 injured. Hundreds of people still remain unaccounted for.

The April 25 temblor and intermittent aftershocks destroyed a total of 1,38,182 buildings all across the country. These included 50,000 private houses which were totally destroyed and 30,000 more such structures that were partially damaged, according to figures made available by the government.

Nepal needs 666.31 billion Nepali rupees (6.7 billion US dollars) in short and medium terms for recovery of all its 23 sectors, according to a report of the Post Disaster Needs Assessment.

The Nepal government has called the donors’ conference to seek resources for reconstruction in Nepal, officiating Foreign Secretary Shanker Das Bairagi said.

“This is going to be a major conference seeking to support mobilization of resources for Nepal’s reconstruction in the aftermath of devastating earthquake and together with its subsequent aftershocks. Our intention is to invite the traditional as well as new partners, UN agencies and other relevant organisations,” Bairagi said.

Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will attend Thursday’s international donors’ conference in Kathmandu on Nepal’s reconstruction post-earthquake.

A meeting of the ruling parties agreed on Saturday to promulgate the ordinance in the absence of a regular session of parliament.

According to Minister for General Administration Lal Babu Pandit, an 11-member authority would be created under the leadership of the prime minister with four ministers as members.

Similarly, a chief executive officer, three experts and chief secretary and vice-chairman of the National Planning Commission will be in the authority.

“The tenure of the authority will be five years,” the minister said adding that the government can either extend its term by a year if the task of reconstruction remains incomplete or assign any other body for the same.

A separate 11-member development assistance coordination and facilitation committee will also be formed.

Laws related to acquiring and registering land, public procurement and environment impact assessment will not be applicable in the quake-hit areas to accomplish the task of reconstruction, an official said.

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