Govt stalls fund for IDPs suspecting embezzlement IDPs' latest data under question
KATHMANDU, July 27: About 13,000 people died during the 10-year Maoist-led armed insurgency. The former Maoist-led government subsequently declared about 7,000 of them as martyrs. However, the question arises: What about the status of the people who were displaced due to the insurgency.
The process of collecting data about the displaced people began only three years ago after the Maoists joined the mainstream politics. The Maoist-led government put the number of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) at 52,000. However, the present government suspects the number is exaggerated.
The Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction, after receiving complaints, has questioned the credibility of the data collection process of the previous government. About five months ago, the ministry stalled the release of Rs 250 million budget allocated for the displaced.
Reports presented to the ministry recently by district-level committees formed in all 75 districts showed that a total 52,613 members from 14,000 families were displaced from their ancestral homes due to the Maoist war. But before this new data was presented, the ministry data showed only 36,000 people were IDPs.
Accordingly, the ministry had then released Rs 250 million for the IDPs.
"Later we received many complaints questioning the authenticity of the IDPs data. Also, we were not supplied with the details about how the money released for IDPs was spent," Durga Nidhi Sharma, Joint Secretary at the ministry said, adding, "We, therefore, stalled the second installment and the money will not be released unless we receive details about how the money was spent."
"There is higher possibility of embezzlement in the distribution of the first installment," another source at the Ministry told myrepublica.com.
The then government had set up a high-level task force to investigate and collect data on the numbers of victims of various conflicts including the Maoist insurgency, Tarai violence and the 2007 ethnic riots of Kapilvastu. The task force was headed by former secretary Shree Kanta Regmee.
Regmee later resigned from the task force, expressing questioning the credibility of the data on the IDPs.
"Regmee resigned because Maoist-affiliated members of the task force hindered free and fair collection of data," a Ministry source said.
"I resigned because there was no environment to work in a free and fair manner while collecting the data on martyrs, IDPs and others," Regmee told myrepublica.com.
Later, the government handed over the responsibility of investigating and collecting data on IDPs to district-level committees headed by concerned chief district officers (CDO). To qualify as IDP, a person needed recommendation from the concerned municipality or village development committee.
"Names of those who were injured in bus accidents and who fell from trees have also been listed as IDPs," a highly-placed source at the ministry told myrepublica.com. According to the source, Tarai-based CDOs faced threats during the data collection process. "Threat was used to compel CDOs to recommend people injured in minor accidents as IDPs. Fake documents were presented in many instances," the source further added.
The then Nepali Congress-led government had decided to provide Rs 500 to each IDP as transport fares to return to their homes. The government had also decided to provide each IDP Rs 60 per day for up to 120 days as allowance. Similarly Rs 2,400 had been arranged for the education of each displaced family and Rs 7,500 for renovation of each damaged house. Likewise, Rs 20,000 per family was released for the construction of totally damaged house.
An additional interest-free loan of Rs 20,000 had been arranged for each IDP family for farming purposes.