Nepal government appointed Dr. Govinda Raj Pokharel, vice chairman of National Planning Commission, as a chief executive officer of the all-powerful National Reconstruction Authority.
Government also appointed professor and geologist Tara Nidhi Bhattarai. Two more experts are yet to be appointed to NRA board,which will lead and monitor works related to rehabilitation and reconstruction in the aftermath of the devastating earthquakes of April and May.
With this appointment, Pokhrel, who is serving as the vice-chairman of the National Planning Commission, will wear two hats of the NRA CEO and the vice-chair of the apex body that formulates the country’s development plans.
Along with Pokhrel, the Cabinet also appointed five members to the NRA board. But even after these appointments, the NRA board is yet to get a full shape, as two positions of experts still remain vacant.
Although all the positions in the board have not been filled, the appointment of the CEO is expected to get things moving because he is one who will oversee day to day works at NRA.
The reconstruction ordinance has given sweeping powers to NRA. For instance, it can override existing legal provisions related to land acquisition and registration, public procurement and environmental impact assessment to expedite reconstruction works.
Also, NRA has the power to issue orders to any civil servant, including secretaries and government agencies, and recommend the concerned government body to take punitive action against those who fail to abide by instructions.
Many say Pokhrel is the best candidate for the post of CEO because he has served as the executive director of the state-owned Alternative Energy Promotion Centre and knows the grassroots well. So, it is assumed he can work in collaboration with people at the local level, where most of the works related to reconstruction will take place.
Yet many things will depend on the quality of policies and programs he frames to rebuild parts of the country ravaged by quakes and restore productive means of livelihood for people who have lost income sources and assets worth billions of rupees.
It is assumed he will work skilfully because a team led by him had previously prepared the report on Post Disaster Needs Assessment — the only credible document that provides information on damage and losses triggered by earthquakes.
Also, the NPC has prepared a draft of the Reconstruction Policy — which basically focuses on rebuilding of private houses damaged by earthquakes, restoration of social infrastructure, such as schools and health centres, and reconstruction of heritage sites.
So, he is not alien to issues related to rehabilitation and reconstruction. This implies he has fair idea of where interventions are needed and sectors that need to be prioritised.
“I’m pleased that the government has entrusted me with this important task. I’ll initiate works related to rehabilitation and reconstruction immediately by collaborating with all government agencies,” said Pokharel.
Chaired by Prime minister Sushil Koirala, the board members include National Planning Commission Vice Chairman, Chief Secretary Dr. Som Lal Subedi, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bam Dev Gautam, Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat, Urban Development Minister Narayan Khadka, Tourism Minister Kripasur Sherpa,