At a time when Nepal is celebrating National Earthquake Safety Day, Purushottam Ghimire, joint secretary and spokesperson of National Planning Commission, spoke on the role of National Planning Commission regarding the coordination efforts. Excerpts:
How do you see Nepal’s preparedness in earthquake? What role is the National Planning Commission is playing?
We are working to introduce long term and short term plans. We have already identified 22 open places in the valley to use as a temporary shelter in case of major earthquakes. So far as the capability to face the earthquake is concerned, Kathmandu valley is in a highly vulnerable and risky place and the country does not have the capability to face major quakes. It is a fact that buildings and infrastructure in the valley are not earthquake-resistant and overwhelming numbers of buildings were constructed without applying the building codes. In case of a major earthquake, the economic and human damage will be unrecoverable. It will have long term implications. This is the reason National Planning Commission is considering to look at the overall policy issues.
What is the economic cost?
The economic cost of earthquake will be very high, given Nepal’s preparedness. We have ignored the building codes and basic security things during the process of constructions. There are many houses which are on the verge of collapse. We need to protect the century old heritage sites and old houses in urban areas. We don’t have national policy about this. We need to have at least twenty or ten year’s long policy.
How can NPC play its role in bringing the public and private sectors together?
Under the home ministry, there is a disaster management committee which is responsible for execution and mobilization of necessary actions during natural disasters. There is no doubt that Home Ministry is the focal ministry in the course of rescue and rehabilitation. National Planning Commission is just considering playing a role as a coordinator among various ministries and donor communities to formulate the policy and plan. In the course of formulation of policy, coordination is lacking. Natural disaster involves various sectors and ministries. We are considering making a central coordination committee to deal with various line ministries. Our efforts will be to mainstream the planning and policies related to disasters.
What is the role of NPC in this?
National Planning Commission can only do the coordination and policy level work. So far as the implementation part is concerned, it is the role of Home Ministry which is responsible for all actions. Home Ministry has the various tools and the private sector has necessary resources. This is the reason there is the need to make coordination.