07/27/2017, 14.14
NEPAL
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Buddhist monks in Kathmandu streets to protest failure to rebuild quake-damaged monasteries

by Christopher Sharma

The earthquake on 25 April 2015 affected 993 monasteries, out of a total of about 5,000. The National Reconstruction Authority first pledged US$ 78 million, then reduced it to US$ 10 million.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Hundreds of Buddhist monks took to streets of Kathmandu to complain that no monastery has been rebuilt more than two years after a violent earthquake hit Nepal.

Monks travelled from 25 districts to protest against delays in the reconstruction of their places of worship, which forces them to pray out in the open and under the rain.

For Furi Sherpa Lama, from Solukhumbu District, "the delay is due to the reluctance of the authorities to restore Buddhist holy structures. During the rainy months, we have no shelter in which to pray and perform our rituals."

On 25 April 2015, a powerful earthquake destroyed homes, schools, Hindu temples, prisons, and killed more than 9,000 people and injured another 22,300.

According to the Buddhist Philosophy Promotion and Monastery Development Committee (BPPMDC), the 7.9 quake damaged 993 Buddhist monasteries out of a total of about 5,000 religious buildings.

In the aftermath of the seism, the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) estimated that it would take 8 billion rupees (US$ 78 million) to bring the temples back to their ancient splendour. However, about a month ago, it revised its estimate, saying that monasteries would get only a billion rupees (US$ 10 million).

It should be noted that delays in reconstruction plagues all sorts of buildings, including houses. In fact, official government sources have recently admitted that only 50,000 houses have been rebuilt in the past 24 months against 887,353 that were destroyed.

What is most alarming is the fact that the reconstruction of the few "lucky” houses was made possible only through funds from charities with contributions from all over the world.

In a short period of time, the NRA’s profound inadequacy in handling the work was exacerbated by rampant corruption and the slow appointment of members charged with determining the value of damages and spending funds from the international community.

Reconstruction got the go-ahead in December 2015, after eight months, when Parliament approved the Reconstruction Authority Bill that established the NRA and named its top officials.

However, about a year and a half later, only 1,300 survivors received the first aid installment to rebuild their homes.

In total, the NRA has about US$ 4 billion at its disposal, but so far, the government has signed agreements for only US$ 2.6 billion.

Making matters worse, the authorities sparked outrage when they decided to send bulldozers to level a tent city on the outskirts of the capital sheltering at least 2,000 people in order to force them to return to their villages.

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