Nepal passes long-delayed post-quake reconstruction bill

Kathmandu Amid protests by Indian-origin Madhesi lawmakers, Nepal's Parliament today passed a long- delayed bill to expedite post-quake rebuilding that was stuck despite pledges of over USD 4 billion in foreign aid to the country hit by two temblors that killed about 9,000 people.

The Reconstruction Authority Bill, which was tabled along with the much-awaited Constitution Amendment Bill yesterday, will expedite post-earthquake reconstruction and rehabilitation works in the country.

Some Madhesi lawmakers picketed the rostrum when the bill was endorsed by the House.

Earlier, the Madhes-centric parties had decided to lend support to the passage of the bill on humanitarian grounds but they protested in the House after the Constitution Amendment Bill was also tabled simultaneously against their demand.

The main opposition Nepali Congress had been obstructing the government's move to table the Reconstruction bill alone, insisting that both the bills should be tabled simultaneously.

The lawmakers belonging to agitating United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) boycotted the House proceedings, alleging that the bill was tabled in Parliament without their consent.

UDMF has been against the idea of tabling both bills -- reconstruction authority and Constitutional amendment. It demanded that the Parliament should endorse bill related to reconstruction authority only.

Both the bills remained stuck in the Parliament for some time with Nepali Congress and the agitating UDMF protesting their tabling.

The Madhesi lawmakers, though not opposed to the reconstruction bill, were protesting its tabling along with the Constitution Amendment Bill which they argue does not incorporate their demands relating to re-demarcation of the provincial boundary.

Now with the endorsement of the reconstruction bill, the work related with the post earthquake reconstruction and rehabilitation will be expedited.

International donor agencies have expressed concern over the delay in endorsing the Reconstruction Authority Bill as it would result in delaying reconstruction and rehabilitation work in the aftermath of the devastating earthquakes that hit

Nepal in April and May, claiming over 9,000 lives.

Led by India and China, global donors in June pledged nearly USD 4.4 billion aid to quake-hit Nepal for the country's massive reconstruction efforts.

Madhesis, who share strong cultural and family bonds with Indians, have been agitating as they believe the new charter discriminates against them, denying them equal standing with other Nepalis.

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