Chandra Kumar Ghimire, Consul General of Nepal, speaks to Arshad Ali about Bengal’s role in relief and rescue operations in the Himalayan country.
What kind of relief has the Nepal government received from West Bengal?
We had written to the Indian government asking for one lakh tarpaulin. The West Bengal government alone had gave us that on Monday as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sent 35 trucks of relief material. She had also said that if Nepal needed more help, they should write to Bengal. We have taken a note of this. The Nepal government, at the moment, is assessing what is needed.
Why did the Nepal government pull out relief workers?
Not all workers have been pulled out. Many have been asked to leave because we believe the first step of rescue operation has been completed. We have stepped into the second stage of rehabilitation, which comprise ensuring at least certain basic things like shelter with safe drinking water, food and sanitation. Next will be reconstruction.
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What are the latest official figures of death, injury and damage?
According to official figures, 7,766 people have died so far in Nepal and 14,362 sustained injuries. Among them, 58 foreign nationals have died and 52 injured. The number of missing foreign nationals is 112 while the number of missing Nepalese is in thousands. As many as 5,48,000 households have been affected and we have lost around 35 per cent of our GDP. Out of the total 75 districts, 39 had been affected. While 2,00,552 houses have been completely demolished, 1,86,285 have been partly damaged.
Which district has been the worst hit?
Death toll wise, it is Sindhupalchowk… As per heritage spots, Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur districts have been lost. Heritage tourism will be badly affected because of this.
Is there an apprehension of an epidemic breaking out?
We are monitoring the situation closely and are ready to respond to any impending situation. Handling garbage is another big concern for us at the moment.
Is this quake worse than the 1934 one?
The quake that had hit Nepal in 1934 was not this huge in terms of magnitude. We had overcome the damage that we faced then. This time, the destruction is beyond repair.