Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala said on Friday his country was indebted to India for its swift response to the humanitarian crisis following the devastating earthquake that killed more than 6,000 people, but added more help was needed.
Speaking to HT after being briefed by officials on the pace of aid delivery to far-flung areas, Koirala said, “I have no words to express appreciation for the Indian assistance. Actually, the contribution of all international teams, including the Chinese, has been extraordinary.”
Aid has just begun to trickle into rural areas close to the epicentre of the 7.9-magnitude earthquake. Many villages continue to remain inaccessible.
The 76-year-old PM said reconstruction would be an uphill task and he would talk to the Indian government about it in detail later.
“Sabne bahut accha kaam kiya hai (Everyone has done a great job … but more help is needed,” said Koirala, a day after HT wrote that New Delhi was preparing a plan to assist Nepal’s rebuilding effort.
The Indian rescue effort is at its fag end, with focus now shifting to stepping up relief measures and the question of recovery being mulled by a specially-constituted task force.
India would do all it can to help the Himalayan nation, national security advisor Ajit Doval, who arrived in Kathmandu earlier in the day with foreign secretary S Jaishankar, said. More than 40% of the Indian external affairs ministry’s budget is earmarked for two countries — Nepal and Bhutan.
Doval and Jaishankar are there to take stock of rescue and relief work. “Reconstruction will follow rescue and relief. The scenes are quite moving and India will provide Nepal and its people with whatever they want,” Doval said after visiting Barpak, the epicentre of the impoverished country’s worst earthquake in 80 years. Jaishankar accompanied him.
Asked to assess the scale of destruction, Jaishankar held out his cellphone and said, “Look at these pictures (unending rows of flattened houses).”
Zooming into an image, India’s top diplomat pointed at blue specks and said they were tents pitched up by relief teams.
Anger is mounting over the failure of the government to provide aid to the victims. Koirala was on Wednesday heckled at a relief camp.
Mohan Bahadur Basnet, the member of Nepal Parliament from Sindhupalchok, said relief had not reached many parts of his constituency -- one of the worst-affected districts that borders China. “There were 66,000 houses before the quake. Only 1,000 are left now. Kathmandu is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.
Full coverage:Nepal Earthquake