Kathmandu, Dec 27: Nepal suffered many jolts in 2015 as two massive earthquakes left a trail of devastation with the only glimmer of hope being the promulgation of a new Constitution but that also resulted in protests by Madhesis, largely of Indian origin, and strain in Indo-Nepal ties.
Nepal was hit by powerful earthquakes on April 25 and May 12, as well as hundreds of aftershocks that killed nearly 9,000 people and destroyed half a million houses.
The economic damage of the quake was estimated to be USD 7 billion. In the face of such tragedy, India rushed rescue teams for help hours soon after the quake hit 14 districts of central Nepal including Kathmandu.
During an international donors conference here on June 25, various donor agencies and development partners pledged financial assistance amounting to USD 4.4 billion for Nepal's reconstruction and rebuilding efforts, and revive its economy from the devastation caused by the quakes.
Nepal had estimated a need of around USD 6.7 billion for rebuilding private and public buildings, schools, infrastructure and supporting economic recovery. 50 per cent of the pledged support was in the form of grant while the remaining in the form of soft loan. India had pledged USD 1 billion for reconstruction, 25 per cent of which will be grant. China announced USD 500 million grant.
However, it was not all gloomy for the Nepalese as there was something to cheer about in September with the promulgation of a new Constitution. With the missed deadline of January 22 to promulgate the new Constitution, Nepalese people were eagerly waiting for an early completion of the draft charter.
Political parties held several rounds of meetings and attempts were made to negotiate on the main contentious issues to forge consensus to draft of the Constitution. Forms of governance, electoral system and federal structure were the key issues on which political parties were sharply divided.
Despite the boycott by the Madhesis, Nepal's major parties forged an agreement and announced the Constitution on September 20 with over 85 per cent of votes. According to the new charter, the country was divided into seven federal provinces, which was rejected by the Madhesi community.
Majority of Nepalese people were happy to accomplish the task of promulgating the Constitution fulfilling their 65-year dream through eight-year-long negotiations. Following the promulgation of the Constitution, there was widespread agitation by Madhesi and Tharu communities of southern and western Nepal who claimed it was a move to politically marginalise them.