Rebuilding quake-hit Nepal: India unveils $1 billion assistance

Underscoring India’s unstinting contribution for creating a resilient Nepal in the aftermath of the quake, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has pledged an assistance package of   $1 billion for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the nascent Himalayan democracy.

Speaking at the International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction, Sushma Swaraj said: “Keeping with our very special relationship that I am happy to announce Government of India’s pledge for Nepal’s post-earthquake reconstruction of Nepali Rupees 10,000 crores, equivalent to one billion US dollars.”

She emphasised that India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with 1.25 billion Indian citizens, are committed to shoulder their responsibilities towards India’s oldest and closest friend and neighbour in the wake of the April 25 earthquake that devastated Nepal.

“Let us take inspiration from ancient philosophy of Yoga and join hands to create a more resilient Nepal,” said the minister.

 The new assistance package has taken India’s total assistance to Nepal over the next five years to $2 billion.

The minister underlined that India could do much more by sharing its expertise in the areas of agriculture, housing, roads and transport, electricity, health, education, cultural heritage, and disaster risk reduction.

“India’s contribution of $1 billion shows its commitment to the neighbouring country. It’s a welcome step. The international community needs to do more as it is beyond the resources of Nepal to mobilise resources on such a scale,” Rakesh Sood, India’s former ambassador to Nepal, told India Writes Network.  

India was the first country to respond after a 7.9 magnitude earthquake, and numerous aftershocks jolted Nepal, killing about 9,000 people and injuring more than 30,000 across the country. In a multi-pronged relief and reconstruction effort entitled Operation Maitri, India sent rescue teams, helicopters, military personnel, food, water and medicine. So far, India has extended assistance of Rs 4.5 billion to Nepal after the earthquake.

Over 300 delegates from 60 countries, development partners and donors, including Bhutan, China, Japan, Norway, Sri Lanka, United Nations, European Union, World Bank and Asian Development Bank, have participated in the conference, which is aimed at mobilizing resources to rebuild Nepal, which is expected to cost around $7 billion.

Ahead of the conference, the World Bank announced $500 million for the reconstruction of the quake-hit Nepal.

Highlights of Sushma Swaraj’s speech at ICRN in Kathmandu on June 25

“At the outset, let me offer, on behalf of the people and Government of India, deepest condolences for the loss of human lives and for the massive devastation caused by the tragic earthquake on 25 April, and its major aftershock on 12 May. I salute the resilience of the people of Nepal and reassure you of India’s full support.”

“Today I convey to you the deep and abiding commitment of the Government and 1.25 billion people of India and the personal commitment of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to stand shoulder to shoulder with you as you seek to wipe the tears of every Nepali.”

In India, there has been an overwhelming outpouring of sympathy, support and solidarity with Nepal in its moment of tragedy. Our response was swift, spontaneous and substantive.”

“The relationship between India and Nepal is as old as history itself. We share ties of culture, religion, tradition, language, literature, and mythology. We are nurtured by the same mountains and rivers. Ours is a “Roti-Beti ka Sambandh” – a bond of family and kinship.”

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