KATHMANDU, Nov 5: Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) had handed over relief materials to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) for distribution to the flood victims in the eastern and central tarai plains in mid-August. But those relief materials have not been distributed yet.
The materials including 3,000 blankets, 100 plastic sheets, 100 tents and 10 water tanks are still in a go-down at Humanitarian Staging Area, a space for collecting relief materials brought from air routes, near Tribhuwan International Airport, according to the MoHA.
It is learnt that JICA has repeatedly inquired about the distribution of the relief materials to the victims. But MoHA officials have told them that the government could not distribute those materials initially because of the local elections and then later because of the festivals.
MoHA officials, however, tried to come clean saying that they could not distribute the materials due to the enforcement of the code of conduct for the local elections in Province 2 and the festivals thereafter. They added that they cannot distribute the relief materials now as the code of conduct for the upcoming parliamentary and provincial elections has been enforced. The election code of conduct bars the government or any institutions from carrying out any activity which may influence the voters.
"The election code of conduct came into effect immediately after we received the relief materials from JICA. Later, the festivals and now again the election code of conduct has affected relief distribution," said Krishna Bahadur Raut, joint secretary at MoHA.
The government has repeatedly breached the election code of conduct by appointing new ministers, transferring secretaries and appointing executives at different public posts and but very few of such appointments and decisions were made after seeking the Election Commission's permission.
However, MoHA has not contacted the EC for permission to distribute the relief materials to the flood affected families who were rendered homeless.
According to MoHA, about 100,000 houses were damaged by the flash floods.
There was a gap of several weeks between the last phase of local elections in Province 2 conducted on September 18 and the enforcement of fresh election code of conduct from August 24 after the government announced the polls.
Asked why they did not seek permission from the EC for distributing the relief materials, Raut did not respond. "The relief materials include nonperishable goods and the blankets provided by JICA may be much useful to distribute to the affected families for the winter season and we are planning to distribute them after the second round of elections slated for December 7," said Raut.