After the Disaster

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Natural disasters can cause unimaginable damage. But that doesn’t stop mankind from rebuilding and reconstructing what has been lost.
 
--By Akhilesh Tripathi
 
The massive earthquake which struck Nepal on April 25 has hit the country really hard. As we go to the press, more than seven thousand bodies have been recovered and several thousands are reported injured. Millions have been affected in other ways. Search and rescue operations were still on when we went to the press.
 
Not only private houses and buildings but also many of the country's historic sites have been severely damaged, including temples and monuments. At least four out of seven UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Kathmandu valley - three of them ancient city squares – are reported badly affected by the disaster. Over two dozen districts, including the capital city Kathmandu, have been badly hit by the quakes. The districts most affected by the earthquake include Sindhupalchowk, Gorakha, Kathmandu, Kavrepalanchowk, Bhaktapur, Nuwakot, Rasuwa, Dhading, Lalitpur etc.
 
The rescue efforts carried out by search and rescue teams from nearly two dozen countries were laudable. We must say that the international community’s response to the natural disaster was quick. Some people have been miraculously rescued alive from rubbles, thanks to the rescue efforts carried out by national as well as international rescuers, who were quick to respond to the calamity.  
 
The earthquakes were devastating.  Thousands of buildings have been brought down. The total physical damage has been estimated to be Rs 200 billion, according to international geological organisations. A US-based institution has said the damage of physical property, in monetary terms, could be somewhere between USD 7 billion to USD 20 billion. 
 
Nepal government has received overwhelming support, aid, donations from all over the world. The government mechanism has not been as effective and transparent as expected during this crucial phase of humanitarian support. However, it is heart-touching to see how individuals, organizations, institutions in Nepal and abroad have volunteered in their own capacities to be there for the people in need. After the devastating earthquake and its aftermath, it’s inspiring to see this spontaneous volunteerism to keep humanity alive.
 
Natural disasters can cause unimaginable damage. But that doesn’t stop mankind from rebuilding and reconstructing what has been lost. Here, Nepal is not an exception. It will have to begin reconstruction at the earliest possible. In this sense, the quakes could be a gift in disguise for the country’s construction industry. According to initial estimates by international organization, it will take at least a decade to rebuild and reconstruct what has been lost.
 
It’s a challenge as well as an opportunity for the construction industry. The demand for cement, iron bars, bricks, paints, and other construction material is going to increase at least for the next one decade as the country will have to engage in construction and reconstruction. This construction boom could trigger a higher economic growth. There are many examples where countries have emerged stronger and more prosperous, after certain time of such huge devastations – natural or man-made. Japan was devastated in atomic bomb attacks in the Second World War. Though it was a man-made disaster, it was the construction boom which lifted Japan up post 1948.

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