MUZAFFARABAD: Over 14,000 survivors in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) are still awaiting the last instalment of a cash grant promised to them for rebuilding their homes that were damaged in the devastating October 2005 earthquake.
They finished reconstructing their homes almost six to 12 months ago and have been visiting the office of the State Earthquake Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Authority (Serra) in Muzaffarabad. However, neither have their payments been released nor have Serra officials responded to their complaints.
“I have come here from Jhelum Valley to ask if my last tranche has been released,” said Rahmatullah, 67, who travelled to Muzaffarabad from Chakothi on the Line of Control. “This is my sixth visit and each visit costs me Rs500 at least. But every time, the people at the window say ‘baba your tranche has not arrived’.”
Thousands of cases have piled up at the headquarters of the Earthquake Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Authority (Erra) in Islamabad. Serra officials in Muzaffarabad seem helpless in disseminating exact information about payments as they are generated at Erra’s housing section in Islamabad.
“We are functioning here merely as messengers as whenever any survivor comes and tells us his case, we forward it to Islamabad because we cannot process the payment here,” a Serra official said, requesting anonymity.
“A total of 0.26 million people in the rural areas of AJK were issued instructions to reconstruct their damaged houses. Of these, 0.24 million people have been disbursed Rs12.43 billion,” another Serra official told The Express Tribune.
In rural and urban areas of AJK, Rs49.06 billion have so far been paid to quake survivors for rebuilding houses. The amount has been divided in four instalments: Rs25,000, Rs75,000, Rs25,000 and Rs50,000. The material of damaged homes is to be reutilised in the reconstruction process.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 25th, 2010.