12/17/2015, 00.00
NEPAL
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Eight months after the earthquake, Kathmandu starts reconstruction

The Nepali parliament adopts a law creating a National Reconstruction Authority. Political divisions had prevented action for eight months. About 8,000 people are still living in temporary shelters. The approaching winter is raising concerns. The new agency will handle huge funds: US$ 880 million from state coffers and US$ 4.1 billion from international donors.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Eight months after the violent earthquake of 25 April that left 9,000 people dead, the Parliament of Nepal has approved the Reconstruction Authority Bill.

The new law, which sets up a National Reconstruction Authority with the power to use international funds to carry out post-earthquake reconstruction in 31 affected districts, was endorsed unopposed. Three parties representing the Madhese minority, which has opposed the new constitution, remained neutral.

The Reconstruction Authority will manage both government and international funding: 91 billion Nepali rupees (US$ 880 million) from state coffers, and about 400 billion rupees (US$ 4.1 billion) pledged at the donors’ conference in June.

Setting up the new body proved difficult because of rivalries among political parties over the election of the president.

This was made that more complicated by strikes carried out by the country’s minorities in the Terai region over the country’s new territorial division that was enshrined in the new constitution.

The same protests led to India imposing an embargo three months ago that reduced food and fuel imports by more than 90 per cent.

The earthquake destroyed homes, schools, Hindu temples, and prisons. Experts point out that the reconstruction will not be easy and could take months, an unwelcome prospect for many people now that winter is approaching, especially the 8,000 people still living in temporary shelters.

The National Reconstruction Authority will have a three-tier structure: a directive committee, an advisory council and an executive committee.

The prime minister will head the directive committee and the advisory council with the main opposition leader as his deputy chair.

The government will also appoint a chief executive officer to head the executive committee, and a monitoring team of lawmakers will oversee the Authority’s activities.

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