2 years on, little sign of recovery in post-quake Nepal

Local community-led memorial services held to mark second anniversary of deadly earthquake 

2 years on, little sign of recovery in post-quake Nepal

World Bulletin / News Desk

Dhan Narayan Kapali, a 55-year-old social worker, sat under a tent in a corner as dozens of young men and women lay on reclining chairs to donate blood.

It was a similar blood donation drive that he and his wife, Sanu Maiya Kapali, 53, had attended two years ago in this bustling palace square lined with centuries-old temples and monuments.

That morning, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, killing over 9,000 people and destroying nearly a million homes, buildings and various physical infrastructures.

Sanu Maiya was among 10 people killed during the blood donation campaign in the premises of Kasthamandap Temple, a 7th century pagoda-style temple, which gives the Nepalese capital its name.

Kapali had just left his wife under the canopy and walked out of the venue to meet a friend when the ground beneath him shook violently. The Kasthamandap Temple lay in ruins.

He begged for help hoping that his wife of 32 years could be saved.

“There was no one for half an hour. Then, about 20 people turned up and began digging through the rubble,” he said.

Someone brought an electric drilling machine. One by one, bodies were pulled out of the rubble of the Kathmandu Durbar Square, where more than 100 were killed.

It was already dark when Sanu Maiya’s body was pulled out of the rubble. Kapali remembered that there were no injuries in her body. “She must have supported herself with a wooden beam,” said the father of two.

As he recalled the devastation caused by the earthquake, Kapali’s grief turned to anger.

“I lost my wife in the disaster. My house was also damaged. So I rented rooms. I had to pay exorbitant rent. Then, I sold my house, which was a family property. Now I am a broken man,” he told Anadolu Agency.

Kapali’s plight is by no means atypical. His story was echoed by other earthquake survivors, who have voiced frustration over delay in reconstruction two years later.

On Tuesday, Nepal marked the second anniversary of the powerful earthquake that struck the Himalayan nation on April 25, 2015. Though government refrained from holding any events marking the day, local community-led memorial services were held in Kathmandu and parts of the country. More such events have been planned by various organizations in the evening.

The survivors have directed their anger at the coalition government, second administration since the quake, for slow recovery.

Despite international community pledged $4.1 billion for reconstruction, aid delivery has been dismal, with homeless people themselves rebuilding homes.

There’s little sign of rebuilding in Kathmandu and across central Nepal ravaged by the quake, the biggest natural disaster in the country in 80 years.

Only about 3.5 percent of a total of 626,694 houses slated for reconstruction have been completed.

Under the government housing grant, homeless people are eligible for 300,000 Nepali rupees ($2916) in three installments after an assessment of the under-construction homes. But experts say it falls well short of amount required to build an earthquake-resistant modern structure.

“If we have political stability and if the government addresses concerns of local communities, I think rebuilding can be done in proper manner,” said Ganapati Lal Shrestha, a member of committee seeking to rebuild Kasthamandap Temple.

“Nepal is a country that has been hit by major earthquakes in the past. So reconstruction has been done in the past centuries as well. We believe that if given a chance, we can restore it so that we can attract tourist like before,” he said.

The committee plans to raise an estimated 220 million Nepali rupees required to rebuild the temple, Shrestha said.

“The community members would contribute labor for the reconstruction, he said.

“We don’t need foreign donations for this work. Our ancestors didn’t need foreign aid when they rebuilt these temples after 1934 earthquake,” he said.

“We will raise money locally and bring architects and other experts and build on our own.”

Güncelleme Tarihi: 25 Nisan 2017, 17:20