DOLAKHA, Sept 16: Ram Krishna Shivakoti of Sunkhani VDC-4 arrived in Charikot, the headquarters of Dolakha district, to claim his first tranche of house reconstruction grant last Monday. But he still has not been able to claim his grant due to the lengthy process involved.
Yeti Bank, which is responsible for distributing the grant to locals of Sunkhani VDC and Bhimeshwar Municipality, had returned him empty-handed Monday citing insufficient documents. He was told to visit the bank on Thursday. And on Thursday, the bank informed that his bank account has been created but he would receive the money only after 15 days.
“Our hopes that the government would look after quake victims' problems started diminishing due to the inordinate delay in distributing grants. But our hopes revived again a year and a half after the earthquake. However, we are again troubled by the lengthy process at the bank,” said a disappointed Shivakoti. He also claimed that many elderly people visiting the bank have been victimized by harsh treatment of the bank employees.
Problems faced by Ngim Bhuti Sherpa, 85, of Lamabagar village is a bit different. He along with his children endured a tiring journey to the district headquarters from Lamabagar, which shares border with Tibet. Unsurprisingly, he too could not claim his first tranche of the grant amount immediately. He was forced to stay at a lodge at the district headquarters for three days before he was finally provided with the grant.
These are just some representative cases. Quake victims in the district are forced to undergo lengthy process and various difficulties to claim the grant.
To ease problems of the quake victims in the rural areas, the government had initially proposed distributing the grants by reaching villages of the victims. However, the banks disagreed forcing the victims to travel to the district headquarters for the grant.
Although the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) had assured that quake victims can open bank account for free, victims complained that many banks in the district headquarters charged them Rs 500 or more for the process. Laxmi Bank and Yeti Bank, among others, are involved in such acts, according to complaints filed in Charikot chapter of the NRA office. However, the banks refuted the allegation.
Shiva Ram Neupane, chief of Charikot-based NRA office, said they are working to resolve the grant-related hassles. “It is possible that victims found the process troublesome because the banks have to comply with their regulations. We are holding discussions with the banks to ease the process,” said Neupane.
Photo caption: Quake victims queuing in front of Laxmi Bank to receive grant amounts. (Courtesy: Ramesh Khatiwada / Republica)