Parties not sending reconstruction volunteers as promised

KATHMANDU, May 26: Announcements by the political parties to send volunteers to earthquake-affected districts for assisting the reconstruction effort have turned out to be just a publicity stunt. Although the deadline set by the government for political parties to deploy their volunteers expired five days ago, they have not even turned up before the local authorities to register the volunteers, let alone deploy them.

photo via Republica

Issuing guidelines for volunteer mobilization, the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) had made it mandatory for all political parties and organizations to register the names of their volunteers at the district administration offices in the 11 worst-affected districts by May 15, and deploy them for 21 days starting May 20.

According to Pusparaj Shahi, chief district officer (CDO) of Dolakha District, no one from a political party or organization has come to register as a volunteer and serve the quake-affected in the district.

“We had notified all the political parties to register their volunteers. But no one has turned up as of now,” Shahi informed Republica over the phone. He said the district development committee had issued the notice about 10 days ago.

Likewise, CDO of Nuwakot Bishnu Prasad Pokharel informed that the political parties are yet to register any volunteers. “No representative from a political party or organization has visited the office so far for registration purposes,” he added.

A source at NRA said NRA had issued the guidelines as per the request of the political parties themselves. “They were quick to make their announcements but when it came to deployment on the ground, they have remained aloof,” the source said.

However, spokesman of the main opposition party Nepali Congress, Dilendra Badu, responded that they are to mobilize volunteers in the affected districts only when the government begins the rebuilding process.

“Our party had announced the deployment of volunteers. However, it is yet to make an official decision on the matter,” he said.

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli in his public speeches repeatedly announced the mobilization of volunteers from the major political parties to help rebuild the houses and distribute the grant amounts.

He had urged all the political parties to mobilize the volunteers under an integrated plan and not separately.

Madhusudan Adhikari, member-secretary of the NRA executive committee, also said that NRA has not seen any mobilization of volunteers by the political parties in the affected districts. “NRA issued guidelines for mobilization of volunteers to avoid duplications,” he said. “We don’t know if the political parties have deployed the volunteers or not. We have entrusted the local authorities to manage the volunteers.”

The guidelines state that the local authorities can mobilize the registered volunteers in the distribution process for the grant amounts of Rs 200,000 each for victims whose houses were completely destroyed by earthquake. Likewise, the volunteers were also to be mobilized to support the victims in building temporary shelters as well as permanent dwellings.

First appeared in Republica national daily