Freedom Forum organized an interaction program on Contemporary Issues of Reconstruction Works. The program was organized on October 9 with the presence of Chief Executive Officer of the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA), Sushil Gyawali, as the chief guest.
The program was conducted to share the experiences of the journalists from 14 earthquake affected districts to whom FF had given training on Public Interest Reporting (PIR). Even the trainers shared their view on difficulties the quake-affected people faced.
It also aimed at bringing into light the field status of reconstruction related activities with the views from the reporters, NRA district level representatives, NRA CEO, and trainers. How the role of media could be strengthened as a watchdog in reconstruction works was equally important focus.
At the interaction FF Chief Executive Officer, Tara Nath Dahal, highlighted the objective of PIR training and the interaction. He made it clear why the fellowship was providing to journalists.
Dahal shared 45 news stories written by journalists concerning the reconstruction activities in the quake hit districts and handed over to NRA CEO Gyawali. The journalists had prepared reports and news on the status of physical infrastructures, health facilities, rehabilitation, sanitation and cultural heritage in the districts.
Report from the field
One of the mentors of PIR training and FF General Secretary, Dharmendra Jha, said effective engagement of media professionals was imperative to ensure transparency in the reconstruction process. The training FF provided on PIR was first of its kind that journalists meet the people affected with earthquake. The writing fellowship after training has been a medium for translating news skills and knowledge on field reporting, he added.
Similarly, one of the PIR participants, Dhurba Dangal from Sindhupalchowk district, viewed that data provided by NRA did not match in some cases. Distribution of government installment to the quake affected was quite slow, he added.
Another journalist from Kathmandu district, Purna Prasad Mishra said the increase in tax has added woes to quake survivors. He questioned why it was taking long time for the completion of cultural heritages.
Another participant from Gorkha district, Shiva Upreti, complained that the damaged houses were yet to be reconstructed on time adding fury to the public.
Responding to the queries and concern of journalists and other participants, NRA CEO Gyawali stated that NRA was effortful to address the complaints and entrusting local NRA representatives with more responsibilities than the construction of physical infrastructures.
He also informed that the NRA Act relating to the post-earthquake reconstruction was in the phase of amendment which would have the provision of formation of a reconstruction committees coordinated by the Chairperson of most affected rural municipalities and municipalities.
Also in the amendment, as Gyawali shared, another provision would be added for socio-economic restoration at district level according to which a committee would be formed under the leadership of coordinator of District Coordination Committee where lawmakers, province assembly members and chiefs of local units would be the members.