Earthquake 2015 April: Serious Disaster in Nepal

At the time of the massive earthquake (7.8 magnitude – USGS, seismological department of Nepal claims 7.6 magnitude) on April 25, 11.56 AM (local time), I was in my room in Kathmandu and my son Kangada and grand-daughter Kashwi were in their bedroom upstairs.

My house shook to and fro and up and down for about a minute. Although we were scared to death, we managed to reach our shadow zone (a safe place inside the house) i.e. along the passage below the wooden door frame holding a pillow over our head. Then after the main shock, we rushed to our small kitchen garden to be safe from aftershocks. While rushing to the backyard, we saw our boundary wall had already collapsed by the main shock.

This was the biggest earthquake I have ever experienced in my lifetime. We experienced several continuous aftershocks on that day. The frequent aftershocks made us more terrified. After some time, we heard very sorrowful news around Nepal (mostly Central Nepal).

The next day, after 25 hours, me, my daughter Tista, daughter-in-law Divya and grand daughter were at the Teaching Hospital- (Mahamohan Cardio Thoracic Vascular Transplant Center) where my wife Sanu Baba was staying at ICU after an aortic replacement type A (a major open heart surgery). My wife was very worried about us as she was at the ICU. Although the hospital building is designed to withstand a strong earthquake, it shook and terrorized us after a big aftershock (6.9 magnitude). No structural damage was reported within the hospital area.

The effects of the Great Quake are too enormous to Nepal handle alone. In the face of such a crisis, there has been a generous outpouring of assistance from all around the world to minimize the sufferings of hundreds of thousands of the Nepali people hit by the tremors followed by collapsed buildings.

Various countries, international organizations, private organizations, and even individuals both Nepalese and foreign are doing their best to help in the rescue, relief, treatment and rehabilitation of the victims.

Around eight thousand people have so far been confirmed dead and another 10,000 are injured, some critically. Thousands more are suspected to be under debris in worst-hit districts like Sindhupalchowk, Gorkha, Dolakha and Kavrepalanchowk. If we can believe preliminary estimates, Nepal’s economy has incurred as gigantic loss as US $9 billion (Rs 900 billion).

Support From Around The World

Nepal has been receiving a great deal of support from various countries, international donor agencies, private organizations and even individuals following the April 25 Great Earthquake. As one of the least developed countries in the world, Nepal was/is too ill-prepared to cope with the devastating impacts of a tremor as big as 7.6 magnitude. Without the outpouring of financial, technical and other relief materials from all over the world, the scale of quake-induced human tragedy and other losses would have been much higher.

Two immediate neighbors – China and India – as well as other nations including Bhutan and the US generously came forward to rescue the quake victims here in Nepal. Specifically speaking, the Chinese rescue team has played a vital role to support the people of the most affected districts, such as Sindhupalchok, Gorkha and Rasuwa.

After the quake, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) organized a special meet to chalk out financial packages to help Nepal while Japan proposed holding an international conference among the donors to support Nepal’s reconstruction within a few months. Social media like Facebook and even international celebrities have been working to raise funds to assist the quake victims in the area.

On the other side, the NRN UK community has raised $ 2 billion while movie star Rajesh Hamal amassed another billion dollars in his fund raising campaign in the Netherlands. Other bilateral and multilateral donor agencies have pledged yet another $100 million.

The promise of such financial assistance has raised hopes that at least the initial phases of reconstruction and rehabilitation works will soon pick up in the country. Just getting the pledged sums is not enough to lend the much needed support to the hundreds of thousands of Nepali people hit by the latest disaster.

How such largesse will be spent is indeed a million-dollar question. It is reported that almost all the funds are being channeled through the PM’s Disaster Relief Fund. So, there are valid reasons to raise doubt over their proper mobilization.

Bureaucracy, Corruption, Conniving Middlemen

The government bureaucracy is outrageously inefficient, and corrupt. That is why conniving middlemen dare to siphon off a big chunk of funds earmarked by the government.

The earthquake cash pool might also be marred by the same predatory tendency.

At the same time, our donor agencies tend to fund the projects which serve their furtive interest more than the genuine needs of the country. There are some cases suggesting some donors are funding their pet political projects by cunningly terming them important for Nepal.

Another distressing fact is that 60-70 percent of such funds are repatriated to donor countries in the form of consultant fees. It highlights the need to check the misuse of the funds meant for the needy people. And, the government must take a lead in this regard.

Sindhupalchowk, Kathmandu, Nuwakot, Dhading, Bhaktapur, Gorkha, Kavre, Lalitpur and Rasuwa have been declared the most affected districts. Similarly, the government has found that altogether 60 districts have been affected by the earthquake. Based on the human casualties, Sindhupalchowk is the most affected district as the death toll reached 1250 in the district alone. According to police reports, 2848 people were killed in the central region, excluding three districts of Kathmandu Valley.

Relief Distribution

As Nepal’s government focuses on relief distribution with the search and rescue mission almost coming to an end, 13 Indian, eight American and three Chinese helicopters are providing relief materials in various quake-hit districts. This also comes amid media reports in national and international media that strategic rivalry between India and China over addressing the Nepal quake was heightened and both Asian nations are gearing up their hard and soft power clout in Nepal. According to the Nepal Army, choppers belonging to the Indian Air Force are based in Pokhara and Kathmandu and have been dropping relief materials in Gorkha district, the quake epicenter. They are also dropping relief materials in Makwanpur, Rasuwa and Dhading districts which were majorly affected in the tremor. Six Indian choppers are based in Pokhara while seven are stationed in Kathmandu and dropping relief material according to the need, said the Nepal Army. – (China National News (IANS) 7th May, 2015).

“The massive earthquake not only destroyed our historical, cultural and religious monuments, but also claimed the lives of around eight thousand people and injured above 15 thousand people (by the time of writing this piece). Above two hundred thousand houses have collapsed and the same number of residential houses have been badly damaged. Some villages have been swept away from the landslide and avalanche after the earthquake. Of the 403 estimated missing people, 113 are foreigners, the NEOC said. A vast majority are tourists who were in Langtang valley, a popular spot for trekkers north of Kathmandu, when the quake hit.

It has already been 12 days since the quake jolted the nation, in many quake affected areas, there is no presence of the government. It seems, there is no government in the country. In the 1990 BS great earthquake, the then government didn’t receive foreign grants and foreign rescue teams, but during that time the then government had handled the crisis in a better manner. Nepal Army number was double than the present strength, the Nepal Army alone could manage the present quake crisis.” -Pushpa Raj Pradhan- Peoples Review 15 May 2015.

What Did The International Community Support?

The international community that helped sponsor the destabilization of the country now is thoroughly exposed to the extent of official Nepali non-performance. If nothing, the policy sector is naked in the eyes of those seeking a semblance of coherence in disaster relief. The extent of self-serving paralysis can no longer be swept under a carpet tattered by mounting unaccountable neglect. The death and destruction at the Dharahara and the cracks in Kathmandu high-rises are mere mute witness. The international competition for relief will be meaningful and long lasting only when there is international comprehension, coherence and competition for the restoration of meaningful political stability in Nepal.

It is a matter of grief that we Nepalese people have been suffering from the looters, the corrupt and traitorous regime since 2006. In such a crisis, the corrupt and visionless government has failed to manage the crisis created by the devastating earthquake.

The visionless government, which has not been able to show its presence in the quake affected areas, attempted to block different organizations and individuals from distributing relief materials by issuing a notice that all the help should be deposited into the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.

Different hurdles were created in distributing relief materials to the victims. As the organizations as well as individuals were unable to distribute relief materials, for many days the victims had to suffer.

Yes! UN official says donor response slow to meet Nepal’s needs.

Nepal is a sovereign ancient nation with its traditional identity. Nepal is a mini-world. Physically, Nepal is built on the high Himalayas including the highest peak in the world, the hills and the low-land Terai. People belonging to different ethnic groups settle here. The soil in this country varies from place to place. It differs from east to west and hills to the Terai. Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world, and Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak is in Nepal and hundreds of mountaineers from across the world come to conquer them. Nepal is blessed by nature with several rivers, lakes, streams and fountains. Nepal has ample sources of water in the form of white gold. Nepal can also be a great store of food-grains if well irrigated and it has high potential of hydroelectric energy.

The Himalayan country Nepal is known as a unique natural, cultural and adventurous destination on the tourism map of the world. Nepal is a land of eternal attraction, a place where one visit is hardly ever enough. It’s a land of colorful cultures, ancient history and people, superb scenery and some of the best walking on earth.

Though Nepal is a small country, it is a common home of various ethnic communities and caste groups. The national aspirations can’t be met by belittling any of the castes and sub-castes. Nepal is fortunate enough to have one-cultural nationalism. This culture is made with the components of Hinduism and Buddhism. Tolerance and civilization make our sublime culture.

Unfortunately, due to the traitors’ regime since 2006, Nepal is among the ranks of the poorest nations in the world and this is because there are no sincere leaders and people’s representatives. Leaders of the political parties are always tangled up in petty disputes and are carelessly playing with the prestige of the nation.

Nepal has always shown goodwill towards India. Cordial people-to-people level relations between Nepal and India have existed since ancient times due to our similar cultural and religious traditions. Nepal and India have to keep friendly relations with each other. But, since 2005, Congress (I) and RAW’s nefarious conspirator roles have humiliated the cordial situation between us. The permanent institution – ‘Monarchy’ can reunite the cordial relationship between Nepal, India and China. Nepal’s monarchy played a balanced role between the two big neighbors – China & India.

We hope, especially, the BJP Govt. will change the nefarious design of former Congress (I) Govt. and it’s RAW to maintain cordial relations with Nepal. The BJP Govt. should propose as it is the Hindu Kingdom and constitutional monarchy in Nepal. We Nepalese people can adjust our way of life to be prosperous, keeping our sovereignty intact, reinstating the norms of the 1990 constitution which was itself smoothing democratically. Without the popular constitution 1990, the situation would have created uncertainty, confusion and anarchy in Nepal. So, to keep intact Nepal’s sovereignty, there must be focused to keep in existence – the constitutional monarchy and Hindu kingdom honoring the national integrity.

We Nepalese people pray to Lord Pashupatinath to save us from the massive earthquake.

D.R. Prasai
Dirgha Raj Prasai is a former Member of Parliament in Nepal, a political analyst who writes from Kathmandu.