Edu institutions hit by 2015 earthquake in KP still await reconstruction

Farid Shinwari

PESHAWAR: After the catastrophic earthquake in October, 2015, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is yet to reconstruct the 168 education institutions extensively damaged in various districts of the province.

The earthquake measuring 7.7 magnitudes has not only caused human losses but it also severely damaged the infrastructure in some districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The earthquake while striking buildings of many other departments has also affected government-run schools buildings in entire province.

An official of Elementary and Secondary Education Department (E&SEDKP) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, while requesting his name not be mentioned saying that 168 education institutions had been fully damaged in 2015 earthquake including 136 primary schools, 12 middle and 20 high and higher secondary schools in nine districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

He stated that Rs 2.5 billion allocation has been made for reconstruction of extensively damaged schools from Annual Development Program (ADP) and the scheme has been incorporated in 2017-18 ADP. He claimed that partially damaged schools have been rebuilt and several among them are under construction process.

After an initial assessment made by Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) and Provincial Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Settlement Authority (PaRRSA), the data was provided to Elementary and Secondary Education KP, he informed. The process of reconstruction caused delay due to holding conference and other programs to persuade donors for cooperation but to no nail, he added.

He categorically said they would strive their best to rebuild the damaged schools in 2018 in case the fund is available. Regarding extensively and partially damaged schools, he claimed the students have been either shifted to nearby schools or provided tents so that to ensure imparting education.

As per district-wise data shared by S&EED KP, as many as 214 schools were partially and 16 fully damaged in Lower Dir, 44 fully and 80 partially in Swat, 08fully and 19 partially in Mansehra, 29 fully and 09 partially affected in Shangla, 52 fully and 180 partially in Upper Dir, 07 fully and 19 partially destroyed in Chitral, two fully and 54 partially in Battagram, One fully in Bunner, two extensively in Torghar, 15 in extensively in Kohistan while 100 schools in Abbottabad and 103 in Peshawar partially damaged.

It further informed that most of partially damaged education institutions have caused minor cracks and would be reconstructed soon. The students both boys and girls have been studying in schools partially damaged in earthquake.

While addressing issues relating to reconstruction and rehabilitation of damaged schools in 2015 earthquake, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) made its assessment after two months of earthquake and later officially corresponded with relevant departments about damages, an official of PDMA said. He further informed that a donor conference was also held which was attended by chief minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Pervez Khattak and the then chief secretary aimed at attracting donors to help reconstructing the devastated buildings.

He clearly said the foreign countries and donor organizations did not pay heed to the issue and could not show interest in reconstruction and rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure along with schools in the province. Later, the education department KP maintained it would reconstruct the damaged schools from its annual development program (ADP), he said and adding it is not confirmed whether those damaged institutions have been reconstructed so far or not.

Additional Director Elementary and Secondary Education Department Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Farid Khan Khattak told the department has made an enormous allocation for reconstruction of schools. He claimed several meetings have been held pertaining to rebuilding devastated education institutions.

Regarding federal government, he alleged it (government) did not rebuild those schools that had been devastated by 2005 earthquake in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa despite pledges it had made to do the job.

As per details, the October 8, 2005 earthquake beside causing human losses of around 100,000 lives also injuring more than 70,000 as it also extensively or partially damaged around 3,669 education institutions only in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Though, more damages from across the country had been reported including roads, government departments and schools

In order to rebuild the destroyed education institutions across the province, the federal government had earlier established an Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) to deal with issues relating to reconstruction and rehabilitation of damaged government-owned buildings.

In the light of data available on website of ERRA, the central government had made allocation of Rs 4.6 billion for the reconstruction of quake-stricken schools in 2014-2015 annual budget and similarly the process of construction of damaged schools was completed in year 2016 with total sum of Rs 08 billion by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz led federal government.

Though, around 1,700 schools damaged by earthquake in 2005 have been completed by ERRA with total cost of Rs 9200 million as still more than 1,000 education institutions still await for reconstruction owing to monetary problems, it added.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf led provincial government had earlier alleged federal government for its failure to fulfill its commitments to construct damaged schools in 2005 earthquake and those institutions still needs to be rebuilt. However, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government had claimed the earthquake reconstruction and rehabilitation authority (ERRA) had ruled out to rebuild those education institutions demolished in earthquake.