Nepal’s lone billionaire to build 1,000 temporary houses

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Kathmandu: For survivors trying to rebuild their lives in earthquake-ravaged Nepal, a long road lies ahead. But many of those who can are pitching in to help, like Nepal’s only billionaire Binod Chaudhary. With monsoon just few weeks away providing shelter for thousands whose houses were damaged in last month’s quake is a big challenge. The 59 year old, with assets worth $1.3 billion announced plans on Wednesday, 6 May, to construct 1,000 temporary houses in the quake-affected districts and allot them for free. 

Besides the 1,000 houses, which are expected to cost anywhere between NRs 50,000 to NRs 100,000, the group also plans to build 9,000 more houses with coordination of donor countries and agencies.

The head of Chaudhary Group, ranked as the 1,306th richest man in the world by Forbes magazine, is reported to be originally from Rajasthan in India. His Chaudhary Group which has stakes in instant noodles, education, construction, electronics and hospitality among others, has also pledged to donate NRs 250 million (around Rs 15 crore) for quake relief and rebuild 100 damaged schools.

While foreign search and rescue teams left Nepal on request, international medical experts are still taking care of the injured. 85 international medical teams are present in Kathmandu. The United Nations, the Asian Development Bank, and many foreign governments and nonprofit groups have rallied, sending relief teams, supplies and emergency cash. India and China were among the first to send help. Nepalese abroad and at home have also scrambled to help, leveraging social media to locate the missing and get help to those in need.

Nepal has much to do in the immediate future. In six weeks, crops must be planted; 70 percent of Nepal’s citizens depend on agriculture for their livelihood. In eight weeks, the monsoon will arrive, bringing lashing rains and hail to areas where many are living out in the open. Thousands of quake affected are still sleeping in open spaces with nothing more than tarpaulins and plastic sheets to protect themselves from the elements.

According to Nepal government estimates, over 500,000 houses have been damaged in the quake (28,000 completely and 237,000 partially) leaving nearly a million Nepalis homeless. 

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