India to send zinc sheets to Nepal for temporary shelters

Anil Giri   |  Kathmandu


 India will send a large number of zinc sheets to Nepal in its bid to construct thousands of temporary shelters as directed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Over half a million houses, mostly in rural areas, were either destroyed or damaged by the April 25 earthquake and subsequent aftershocks. These need to be rebuilt and Nepal is facing a shortage of zinc sheets for building temporary shelters.

With the rainy season approaching, Nepal needs hundreds of thousands of such zinc sheets.

Ahead of wrapping up his two-day Nepal visit on Wednesday, Pramod Mishra, additional secretary to Prime Minister Modi and who also led the Gujarat Disaster Management Authority and worked in the capacity of chief executive from 2001 to 2004, told reporters in Kathmandu that India was willing to provide zinc sheets for immediate rehabilitation efforts if the Nepal government made any such request.

The production of zinc sheets in Nepal would not meet the requirement, said Mishra, adding that thousands of houses were destroyed and it would take at least two years to build new houses. In such a situation, he said, the only viable alternative is to build temporary houses or shelters as the monsoon is approaching fast.

"In this context, we are willing to send zinc sheets to Nepal to build the temporary shelters," he said.

In his meeting with Mishra, Prime Minister Sushil Koirala also requested for zinc sheets for temporary shekters before monsoon arrives.

As soon as the post-disaster assessment of the damage caused by the earthquake is made, Nepal will request the Indian side for specific requirements, said a senior Nepali government official.

Mishra, who had extensive experience of rebuilding some parts of Gujarat following the 2001 quake, also said that it would take four years for Nepal to return to normalcy.

"Around 20,000 people were killed, thousands injured and thousands of houses were damaged in Gujarat and it took us three to five years for rebuilding and reconstruction," he added.

Besides meeting senior Nepali government officials, the Indian official also held talks with Kathmandu-based development partners and donor agencies like the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, UNDP, the European Union and others and discussed ways to assist Nepal in the rebuilding and reconstruction process. - IANS