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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Nepal to nominate intangible cultures in UNESCO

BISHNU PRASAD ARYAL
KATHMANDU: The government is preparing to nominate indigenous intangible cultures to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Site. To date, Nepal has 10 heritage sites, including two natural locations, enlisted in the World Heritage Site.

“We will nominate at least two intangible cultures of Nepal in UNESCO within the current fiscal year,” said the government officials, adding that they are listing and selecting intangible cultures practised across the country at present. There are 125 different groups and ethnic communities with some 120 languages across the country, according to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation. They have their own unique tradition and culture, including living intangible cultures.

Til Bikram Nembang, chancellor of Nepal Academy, expressed concern about disappearing living intangible cultures.

“At a time when tangible heritage sites such as Bagmati are at a sorry state, intangible cultures are on the verge of extinction due to rapid urbanisation and modern lifestyle,” he said.

“While cultures must be a part of life, they are only confined as the stage property today.”

The government has already formulated a national cultural policy in line with the UNESCO Convention to preserve and promote the cultures of Nepal.

According to the ministry, the proposed guideline includes standards and policies of intangible cultural heritages and their preservation as per the UNESCO provisions.

In 2010, the government had ratified the UN Convention designed to safeguard intangible cultural heritage, such as folklore, oral traditions, social rituals and performing arts, the ministry informed.

“However, nothing much has been accomplished to safeguard the unique living cultures and traditions of Nepal,” said Sushil Kumar Pandey, deputy secretary-general of Nepal National Commission for UNESCO.

“The living cultures must be preserved for our own identity and integration of society,” he added.

By ratifying the UN Convention, Nepal has committed at the international level to safeguarding the rich and diverse living heritage of the country.

Nepal is the 125th State Party to the UNESCO Convention for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003).

The main purposes of the convention, which UNESCO Member States adopted in 2003, are to safeguard intangible cultural heritage, to ensure respect for it, to raise awareness on its importance, and to provide international cooperation and assistance in those fields.

Signatory governments recognise that cultural heritage is not limited to material manifestations, such as monuments and objects, but must be extended to the traditions and living expressions inherited from ancestors. Sushil Ghimire, secretary at the ministry, said the government alone cannot preserve the culture and living heritage of the country.

“The local communities should also come forward before it’s too late,” he said adding that it will be impossible to revive the lost intangible cultures even if we develop physical infrastructure.

Signing the convention binds the governments to acknowledge their roles in international cooperation and responsibilities towards implementing the provisions of the convention through adoption of necessary legislative, regulatory and other appropriate measures, the ministry said.

The ministry is preparing the final draft for the formation of Intangible Culture Heritage Council through a Cabinet decision.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Govt urges I/NGOs to work under laws

Bishnu Prasad Aryal
Kathmandu, August 17

The Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development has urged all the international and national non-government organisations working in the local bodies to abide by existing laws of the country.

More than 230 INGOs and 1,000 national level NGOs have been working in the local bodies, according to the MoFALD. Among them, 20 to 25 per cent of the I/NGOs are yet to coordinate with the local bodies as per the laws in course of carrying out development activities. There are 75 districts, 3,915 village development committees and 58 municipalities across the country.

The Clause 209 (1) of Local Self-Governance Act 2055 BS and Clause 58 of Local Bodies Resource Mobilisation and Management Guideline 2069 BS have provisioned the I/NGOs to coordinate with local bodies by signing agreement and working responsibly while carrying out development activities and mobilising resources in the local bodies.

"However, more than one-fifth of the I/NGOs working in the local bodies have not coordinated with the local bodies by signing any agreement in local level," said the MoFALD officials. "This is against the laws of the country," they said.

Prakash Amatya, member of Fresh Water Action Netwok South Asia, admitted that some of the I/NGOs were investing and working directly against the rules despite legal registration of I/NGOs to Social Welfare Council and District Administration Offices. "It is the government's and Social Welfare Council's weakness not to monitor them and bring them under laws," he said.

Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya, spokesperson for the MoFALD, said that they have asked all the district development committees to submit details of the I/NGOs working in the local bodies. "We are not against the I/NGOs and are not trying to control them. But we need them and they should also abide by the laws of the country while doing anything here," he added.

There are four categories of non-government organisations working in the local bodies--INGOs, central level NGOs, national level NGOs and local level NGOs.

Local level NGOs are based in local levels in districts and villages while national level NGOs that invest and mobilise resources given by I/NGOs in the local bodies. "There is not any problem of coordination with these two categories of the organisations," said the government officials. "However, the problem is with INGOs and central level NGOs that invest funds directly in the local bodies without coordination and agreement with them as per the laws," they said.

The I/NGOs choose a ward of a village or only a few targeted groups in the districts. They sensitise the local people but do not satisfy the people with their work. The I/NGOs shall either a whole district or a whole community of the district while they are working in the local bodies if they are interested in working for the development, according to the MoFALD officials. "They should own and take responsibilities of projects they have initiated," they said. "There is duplication of works with the government development programmes and lack of transparency in their activities. We are unknown about what and how they are doing in the local bodies."

The Non-Government Organisations Guideline 2061 BS and Local Self Governance Act 2055 BS have provisioned responsibility of I/NGOs, accountability, and transparency, restricting duplication of works in the local bodies. "The NGOs deliberately duplicate programmes with government programmes and prepare documents of project completion without investing anything," the government officials claimed.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Donors likely to downsize assistance to local bodies

Bishnu Prasad Aryal
Kathmandu, July 17



The fate of a country-wide development programme appears to hang in a balance as donors sound out plans to review their commitment, unhappy about irregularities and mismanagement of the funds in the absence of elected local bodies.



Donors supporting the Local Governance and Community Development Programme (LGCDP) have indicated that they would slash their fund citing lack of accountability and fiduciary risk management in the local bodies, according to Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development (MoFALD) sources.


The development partners have not been satisfied with the governance system in the local bodies and have raised serious concerns about the misuse of development funds, sources said. "They have been demanding a sound mechanism, including fiduciary risk management, and an accountable body to check irregularities in the local bodies," MoFALD officials said.


They have committed to provide only about US$ 100 million till date for the second phase when the government has planned to bring some US$ 1300 million programme that the government will contribute US$ 1058 million and remaining about US$ 300M by donors. "The donors have assured us that they will assist three times bigger amount if the local elections are held," said Puroshottam Nepal, programme coordinator of the LGCDP at the MoFALD.



LGCDP, originally conceived between July 2008-January 2009, was re-designed into a four-year programme supported by a host of development partners comprising several European countries, the World Bank and the UN System in Nepal. The first phase of LGCDP concluded on July 15, 2012 and no cost tenure was extended till July 15, 2013 in order to prepare policies and programmes for the second phase and sign agreement. The second phase was supposed to start on July 16 to July 15, 2017.



The joint financing agreement with the development partners is yet to be signed. As on date, LGCDP runs into its second phase unofficially, said ministry sources as they looked forward to the signing of renewal agreement for the remaining period.

"The government is negotiating with donors and is in process of signing a renewal agreement," Local Development Secretary Shanta Bahadur Shrestha told The Himalayan Times.

However, programme coordinator of LGCDP Purushottam Nepal sounded more optimistic about the future of the second phase programme. "A draft agreement has been prepared and it will be signed by August," he said.


"The size of budget from the development partners may decrease this time due to absence of elected representatives in the local bodies," ministry sources said. The local bodies elections were held last time 16 years ago.


The total budget comprising of government of Nepal US$ 260.8 million (Block Grant Allocation to LBs) and donors commitment US$ 161.5 million was planned to invest in the first phase of the LGCDP. The development partners include Asian Development Bank, DANIDA, DFID, UN System (UNDP, UNICEF, UNCDF, UNFPA, UNV etc.), Government of Norway, Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC), GIZ, JICA, World Bank and Government of Finland.
However, the donors did not provide all the committed assistance of the first phase for the local bodies, citing irregularities in the local bodies, according to the MoFALD sources.

Out of about Rs 45 billion budget allocated for the MoFALD annually, development partners contribute about Rs 15 billion for 75 districts, 3,915 village development committees and 58 municipalities across the country.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Ex-minister 'doled out money' to cadres

Narayan Kaji Shrestha gave away development funds


BISHNU PRASAD ARYAL

KATHMANDU: The Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development has been found to have violated the rules, with the direct involvement of the former local development minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha, by distributing development funds among those close to his party.

According to the MoFALD, Rs 500 million of people’s participatory programme of the current fiscal year was distributed for 723 projects under the direct supervision of local development minister in the current fiscal year. Of the total budget of PPP of Rs 500 million, MoFALD contributes Rs 200 million while the rest is covered by the Ministry of Finance.

It has been revealed that former deputy prime minister and local development minister Shrestha distributed the development funds among UCPN-M cadres, in the name of constructing martyrs’ memorial buildings and parks, according to sources at the MoFALD. The Cabinet that had Shrestha as minister was replaced by the Khil Raj Regmi-led Cabinet on March 14. As per the rules, the minister can distribute up to Rs 500 million of PPP through the plans approved by district development committees. However, the funds were distributed arbitrarily among those who approached Shrestha personally, in violation of the existing rules, high ranking MoFALD officials told this daily requesting anonymity.

Regular irregularities
• Gaurishankar Khadka Smriti Pratisthan, Jhapa, Rs 500,000
• Jaya Gobind Sah Smriti Pustakalya, Mahottari, Rs 1,500,000
• Sahid Pratisthan, Rasuwa, Rs 100,000
• Sahid Smriti Bhawan, Bidur, Rs 100,000
• Sahid Smriti Sanchar, Dhading, Rs 500,000
• Shahid Pratisthan Nepal Shakha, Rolpa, Rs 2,500,000
• Different youth clubs in Ropla, Rs 4,000,000
• Siddha Tirtha Smriti Bhawan and Park, Kavre Rs 500,000
• Sahid Smriti Park, Jipupipal, Rukum, Rs 500,000
• Sahid Smriti Park, Kankridobhan, Rukum, Rs 500,000
• Sahid Smriti Park, Pyuthan, Rs 500,000

Rs 500 million of PPP can be given only for development activities of public concerns. As per the rules, such programmes are generally selected through DDCs on the basis of recommendations from other line ministries and the National Planning Commission. Memorandums submitted to high ranking officials after their field visits also need to be taken into consideration. “But the programmes were directly selected by then minister Shrestha in January-February,” the officials said. The government provides funds to national institutions such as Ganesh Man Singh Memorial Academy, Manmohan Singh Memorial Academy and Krishna Sen Ichchhuk Memorial Academy. But the development funds cannot be given to cadres of certain political parties. “We have been told that the funds allocated to different organisations were given to construct office buildings of a political party and to the cadres on one pretext or the other,” the officials added.

MoFALD Spokesperson Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya, said that the budget from the central level can be spent only on activities related to public infrastructure development and social development. “We will monitor them and will take necessary action if they are found illegal,” Thapaliya said in a style typical of bureaucracy.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Govt shifting development grant focus to Tarai

 • Plans to slash funds given to hill and mountain regions • Experts call it an irrational move

BISHNU PRASAD ARYAL
Fast facts • Tarai belt constitutes a little more than half of the total population of the country (50.2 per cent) • Hill and mountain belts constitute about 42.8 per cent and seven per cent of the total population‚ respectively • The Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development gets Rs 45 billion every year • As per the rule‚ each of the 3‚913 village development committees get Rs 1.5 million to Rs 3 million as grants • Each of the 75 district development committees get grants on the basis of performance • New rule says performance-based grants to the local bodies will be reduced‚ implying that each VDC will get only Rs 1.5 million and each DDC Rs 4 million
KATHMANDU: The Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development is planning to cut development grants given to the hills to provide the same to the Tarai region.

According to the national census 2011, the Tarai belt, smaller in area, constitutes more than half of the total population of the country (50.2 per cent) followed by the hill and mountain belts that constitute about 42.8 per cent and seven per cent of the total population, respectively.

“The remote hill and Himalayan regions, where poverty-stricken, marginalised and underprivileged people live, will be affected if the government’s plan to slash development grants is implemented,” said Dinesh Chandra Devkota, former vice-chairman of the National Planning Commission. “It will be an irrational move as marginalised people living in hills like Karnali region will be affected.”

The ministry is preparing to change the rules provisioned in the Local Bodies Resource Mobilisation and Management Guideline 2069 BS under the influence of minister for local development, Madhes-based parties and Unified CPN-Maoist, confidential sources at the ministry told The Himalayan Times. “This is a plan to spend more development budget in Tarai by cutting grants given to the hilly and Himalayan regions,” they said. “The government is planning to include this programme in the coming fiscal budget and programmes are being prepared for the coming year.”

THT’s repeated attempts to contact Minister for Federal Affairs and Local Development Bidhyadhar Mallik went in vain. He neither picked up his phone nor responded to emails.

The government allocates about Rs 45 billion for the MoFALD every year. Of the total allocation, about 70 per cent is spent on development activities and people-oriented programmes while rest is set aside for administrative purposes, according to the MoFALD.

Development grants are allocated as per provisions enshrined in the rules and regulations. Highly placed sources at the ministry told this daily that the plan was being chalked out with more focus on Tarai region in the name of population distribution.

Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya, Spokesperson for the MoFALD, conceded that the ministry was working to amend the rules. “This rule can be revised every two years,” Thapaliya said. “We can concentrate on densely populated areas while distributing grants,” he added.

The proposed plan will revise the existing system and send more budget to Tarai-based districts. Out of the total allocated capital expenditure, 50 per cent will be distributed on the basis of formula-based grants and remaining as per minimum conditions grants, according to the Local Bodies Fiscal Commission Secretariat.

Each of the 3,913 village development committees used to get Rs 1.5 million to Rs 3 million as grants while each of the 75 district development committees used to get grants on the basis of performance.

The performance-based grants to the local bodies will be reduced as per the new rule, which means each VDC will get only Rs 1.5 million and each DDC Rs 4 million.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Culture of vanity mars bid to preserve culture

18-month-old body formed to protect cultural heritage of the country goes defunct

BISHNU PRASAD ARYAL
KATHMANDU: An 18-month-old body formed with a view to working to preserve intangible cultural heritage has gone defunct, without delivering on its pledge, in what could reflect the culture of non-performance that has seeped into majority of government organisations.

“The body is defunct, and its targeted objectives are in a state of limbo,” said officials at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, the line ministry that is responsible for preserving country’s cultural heritage. According to officials, the body failed to perform after it ran into controversy over vaguely defined roles. “The body was formed illegally — by then culture minister, not by the Cabinet — clearly against the rules that are enshrined in the policy,” said the officials.

Intangible Heritage Cultural Council in line with the

UNESCO Convention in a bid to preserve and promote the cultures and cultural heritage of Nepal.

“However, no significant activity has been carried out so far,” said Bharat Mani Subedi, Joint Secretary, MoCTCA. “We are formulating a new regulation — or a guideline — to set up an ‘eligible’ cultural body. We hope to complete it by the end of current fiscal year. It will then be sent to the Cabinet for approval and accordingly a new council will be formed.”

The government is yet to do any tangible work to safeguard intangible cultural heritage of the country, even though Nepal, which boasts diverse culture and heritage, is a signatory to the UNESCO Convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage. There are about 90 ethnic communities with about 120 languages and different living traditions.

The government in 2010 ratified the UN Convention designed to safeguard intangible cultural heritage, such as folklore, oral traditions, social rituals and performing arts, according to MoCTCA. The nine-member IHCC is chaired by the culture minister.

The committee was given authority to carry out different activities on folklore, festivals, fairs, customs, traditional crafts, performing arts and cultural practices.

The committee had plans to prepare inventory of intangible cultural heritage of the Kathmandu Valley by the end of the last fiscal year and was to work in districts in the following fiscal years. But nothing significant has been achieved so far. The officials admitted that the past commitments were not translated into action by exploiting culture, the skeleton of booming tourism industry of the country.

By ratifying the UN Convention, Nepal committed itself at the international level to safeguarding the rich and diverse living heritage of the country. Nepal is the 125th State Party to the UNESCO Convention for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003).

The main purposes of the convention, which was adopted by UNESCO Member States in 2003, are to safeguard intangible cultural heritage, to ensure respect for it, to raise awareness on its importance and of mutual appreciation, and to provide international cooperation and assistance in those fields. Ratifying governments recognise that cultural heritage is not limited to material manifestations, such as monuments and objects, but must be extended to the traditions and living expressions inherited from ancestors.

Signing the convention binds the member states to acknowledge their roles in

international cooperation

and responsibilities towards implementing the provisions of the convention through adoption of necessary legislative, regulatory and other appropriate measures, according to MoCTCA.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

PADT demands review of 99-year land lease

BISHNU PRASAD ARYAL
KATHMANDU: The Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT) has demanded review of the lease contract of its 1,162 ropanis (61.15 hectares) of land with the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal.

The PADT and CAAN signed the contract on January 7, 1983 for 99 years, according to the PADT documents. The CAAN agreed to pay 23 pathis (one pathi=3.2 kg) of paddy per ropani of land to the PADT each year. Interestingly, both the PADT and the CAAN are autonomous government bodies under the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA). CAAN has dealt the PADT land with third parties on contracts, earning millions of rupees, said the PADT officials. “The CAAN has given our land to a golf club and private companies. However, we are paid very low compared to the present value,” they said. CAAN has used PADT land for domestic and international terminals of Tribhuvan International Airport, which occupies 3,020 hectares. Of the total airport area, 61.15 hectares is PADT’s.

Narottam Baidya, PADT treasurer, said PADT Council has recently decided to forward the procedure to review the contract. Joint-secretary Bharat Mani Subedi, chief of the Culture and Heritage Division at the MoCTCA, also said that the issue of reviewing the contract has been raised seriously. A meeting chaired by Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Ram Kumar Shrestha and held on May 28 discussed the issue of reviewing the contract. Minister Shrestha is chairman of both the PADT and CAAN as a sitting minister.

Baidya said Minister Shrestha was interested in reviewing the deal. “We will forward the decision to the MoCTCA asking to review it after a decision is minuted.”

Tilganga pays nothing
KATHMANDU: Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology has not paid anything to PADT for about two decades despite an agreement to pay 20 per cent of the hospital income, according to PADT. A lease contract on five ropanis of land between PADT and Tilganga Eye Care Hospital was signed on September 21, 1992, with the hospital agreeing to pay 20 per cent of its profit to PADT. The hospital has used five ropanis of land on lease for 20 years. “We have not got a penny from the hospital in about two decades,” said PADT treasurer Narottam Baidya. Dr Sanduk Ruit, executive director of the Tilganga Institute, said, “We are incurring losses and thus unable to pay the agreed amount.”

Baidya said the Office of Auditor General (OAG) questions about the deal every year. “It has asked us to review the contract rationally,” he claimed. “The OAG has also questioned about arrears of land given on contract to the Tilganga Institute of Opthalmology,” he added. “We want to help both of the institutions, but the contracts should be based on a win-win situation.”

Joint-secretary Suresh Acharya, chief of Aviation Industry Management Division at MoCTCA, said he has no idea about the deal. “If the PADT forwards e documents to the ministry, we will look into it.” “Then, we will forward files to the CAAN for further action. The PADT and the CAAN are the ones that should seal the final deal,” he added.

The 99-year deal was signed during the period of main priest Padam Naabh Shastry of the Pashupatinath Temple and Shiva Sharan Rajbhandari, chief of Pashupati Area Reformation and Development Committee.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Rituals doing little to protect the environment

BISHNU PRASAD ARYAL
KATHMANDU: Eighteen organisations, including government agencies, organised a Bagmati cleanup programme at Shankhamul today.

Also today, organisers planted 500 saplings at Nagdaha of Lalitpur as part of programmes to mark the World Environment Day, which falls on

June 5.

Dr Sumitra Amatya, executive director of the Solid Waste Management Technical Support Centre (SWMTSC), says she got tired attending these programmes. “I’ve taken ill as I had to attend Bagmati cleanup and tree plantation programmes,” she says.

However, these kinds of rituals, conducted every year to mark the day, have done precious little on nature conservation and pollution control fronts at a time when environmental and sanitary conditions continue to get worse in urban areas as well as in villages. Neither the government agencies nor NGOs have bothered to study sanitary and environmental scenarios and prepare reports.

The world is celebrating the environment day this year with the theme Think.Eat.Save. The objective of the anti-food waste campaign is to reduce carbon footprints. Ironically, even programmes organised in the name of environment conservation contribute to pollution with participants disposing of waste haphazardly.

Needless to say, ritual campaigns, expensive rallies and tree plantation programmes that are organised every year in Nepal to mark the great day does little, though budget for such programmes runs into millions of rupees.

Environment expert DR Pathak says the impact of these campaigns in Nepal is negative. He points, “There is no system of monitoring, evaluating and keeping records of the environmental situation in the country.”

The Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, Ministry of Forests and Land Conservation, Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development, Ministry of Urban Development, various government organisations, about a dozen international agencies and organisations and dozens of local NGOs have been working on the sanitation and environment sector.

The government does not have a proper record of the budget spent on the sector nor has it set parametres to assess the situation. Every year, people and organisations associated with environment conservation plant thousands of trees on public land in urban areas, but no one looks after them after plantation. “It is better to keep records of conserved plants rather than planting trees every year,” Amatya says. “Waste generation is on the rise, but it is not properly managed anywhere.”

Pathak says pollution and environmental mismanagement are on the rise. “Rivers are turning into sewers, streets and open places are full of plastics, and environment is full of contaminants,” he points. “In course of marking environment days, the organisers make the environment more polluted with their waste.”

“We have fallen behind in planning, monitoring and evaluation to achieve environment conservation targets,” Pathak goes. “For instance, if we plan for 10 years, we have to set a target for every two years and make two-yearly assessments,” he says. “No one is serious about environmental protection. Everyone is busy cashing in on the worsening situation.”

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Pashupati heritage pressed to donate land to NGOs

Culture Minister recommends PADT to distribute its land to NGOs


PADT officials object the proposal and decide to get approval from its committee

Bishnu Prasad Aryal
Kathmandu, May 29

Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Ram Kumar Shrestha has recommended the Pashupati Area Development Trust to provide the land of heritage site to the NGOs.

According to the PADT sources, Minister Shrestha recommended the PADT in written to provide about three ropanies of land to the private organisations. A meeting of the PADT Council chaired by Minister Shrestha was held yesterday to discuss on the issues.

Gajendra Narayan Singh Memorial Academy chaired by former minister Anil Kumar Jha and Bal Sarathi chaired by social worker Mala Kharel asked Minister Shrestha to provide two ropanies of land owned by the PADT at Gothatar of Kathmandu and nearly one ropani of the PADT land at Tilganga respectively.

The issues were tabled yesterday at the PADT council meeting held first time at the PADT premises after Minister Shrestha was appointed. Minister Shrestha was appointed in the cabinet in the recommendation of Pulshpa Kamal Dahal-led Maoist Party.

"However, the proposal was rejected in the meeting terming it as illegal," said the PADT officials. "We proposed to forward such proposals through the regular meeting of the PADT executive committee," they said.

Minister Shrestha might have personally recommended the PADT to provide its property to the NGOs, said the officials at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation. "We are officially unknown about it," said Jaya Ram Shrestha, chief of Culture and Heritage Section at the ministry.
Sushil Nahata, member-secretary at the PADT said that seven agendas were discussed on the PADT council. "However, they are yet to be approved," he said. "The state property cannot be given to any private organisation."

According to the PADT, the agendas discussed during the meeting are land issues recommended by Culture Minister, making Bagmati pollution free river, contract review of PADT land leased to then Hawai Sewa Bibhag (presently Civil Aviation Authority), providing a piece of land site to Madan Bhatta whose land was pooled during the PADT Master Plan, waiving interest and cost of land given to poors in place of pooled land and widening road at the PADT area.

Gargi Gurukul Pratisthan, chaired by Prof Angur Baba Joshi, also proposed to provide 25 ropanies of the PADT land at Gothatar of Kathmandu on lease. Pratisthan serves educating girls and women on Sanskrit and Hindu culture. "We decided to provide a building to the organisation at Gaurighat to run a school until it makes its own building," said Narottam Vaidya, treasurer at the PADT.

Vaidya further said that the PADT has also decided to amend PADT regulation regarding gratuity for retired caretakers, manage directives for priests and caretakers of the Pashupatinath Temple and effective management of auditing accounts.

The pagoda style Pashupatinath Temple, which is believed to be more than 2,500 years old, is enlisted in the UNECSO World Heritage Site.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Mob dictates democracy in local bodies for a decade


Bishnu Prasad Aryal
Kathmandu, December 31

Rabble culture has continued to dictate local bodies for more than a decade owing to the vacuum of elected representatives. However, neither the government nor the political parties dared to adopt the democratic discipline to hold local body elections despite their hollow buzzes to ensure good governance in the local bodies.

Everyone, who believes in democracy and election system to choose their leaders for the development and transformation of society, is compelled to think that there is no democracy in Nepal. On the one hand, legislative body is defunct; on the other hand, the local bodies are deprived of local government elected by them, of them and for them. “People can only experience the existence of government for service delivery if there is elected bodies in the local level,” said former chief secretary Bimal Koirala. “Democracy is not a gift given by elites. People in local level should realize and entertain it fully,” he added.

TIMELINE 2012

January 6:            All-party mechanism in local body dissolved after order from CIAA and local body employees assigned to work in place of elected body.
May 14:                Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development (MoFALD) was shifted to Singh Durbar premises from Harihar Bhawan, Lalitpur.

July 16:                 Donor funded first phase of LGCDP ended.

August 26:           18 local body officials of Dhanusha suspended for three months for gobbling up Rs 300M.

November 7:        Supreme Court ordered the government to hold local body elections.       

December 2:         Eight local body officials of Saptari suspended for three months misusing Rs 300M.


Koirala further said that neither the legitimized central government nor the local government were in democratic order in Nepal. “Present situation is no more than the state of mock democracy instead of functional democracy,” he said. “It is only lifeless democracy that has weakened governance system, issuing licence to involve in corruption.”

The Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development (MoFALD) has been huffing and puffing to rule the local bodies by assigning the civil servants and local body employees, claiming to ensure service delivery to the people. However, the misuse of development funds has increased rampantly in the involvement of the political parties, government officials including VDC secretaries and local body employees in the local level.

In the recent years, the government has allocated some Rs 45 billion, including about Rs 15 billion from the foreign aids, for the MoFALD every year. Additionally, the government allocates a huge amount for the local bodies through the Ministry of Health and Population, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction.

The local bodies constituted are 75 districts, 3,915 village development committees (VDC) and 58 municipalities throughout the country. Apart from their local resources, a VDC gets at least Rs three million to five million from the government yearly.

The donor countries have raised a serious concern about the misuse of development funds in the local bodies. They will be happy only if the elected body functions in the local bodies, said the government officials.

Senior officials at the MoFALD revealed that the donor countries and development partners were more interested in carrying out development activities themselves in the local bodies but not through the government bodies. “They want to invest assistance directly in the local bodies because they are worried about corruption of the development funds in the local bodies,” they said.

Though the elected government cannot end the corruption in the local bodies, they certainly can check and minimize risk, said Laxman Pandey programme officer at the National Association of VDCs in Nepal. “The elected representatives will be more responsible towards people. At this time no one is there to take responsibility and accountability,” Koirala added.

The cadres of political parties are playing foul against laws in local bodies while forming users committees to plan and use development budget and programmes.

This is more pathetic to reveal that the planning system in the local bodies is just opposite of the decentralization policy. The plans are imposed from centre to bottom instead of bottom to top. Even a single meeting of Decentralisation Implementation Monitoring Committee headed by Prime Minister could not be held throughout the year. It should take place at least once in each three months.

The government officials admit that two third of the fiscal budget has not been used properly though the amount is spent on any development head and activity. A study carried out by a team comprising of former chief secretary Bimal Koirala indicated to a similar finding.

It is a general rule in the democracy that people should be given opportunity to elect their representatives in each four to five years so as to establish culture of fresh mandate. The local body election was held 15 years ago in the country last time. The political parties and government officials blame on the transitional period and restructuring of local bodies based on federalism for failing to hold local body elections.

Structure of VDCs
(Based on Local-self Governance Act 1999)
Village Development Committee (13 Members) Village Council (13 + 36 + 4 = 53 Members) VDC Chair -1 Vice – chair - 1 Ward Chair - 9 Ward Members - 36 (Minimum 9 Women members) Nominated VDC Members 2 (Minimum 1 Women) Nominated Council Members - 4 (Minimum 1 Women)
  

“This is a mere example of avoiding responsibility of establishing democratic culture. Local body election never affects structuring the federal bodies. It will certainly take time to write federal statute. If the statute is not written for another four years, will it be reasonable not to hold local elections?” Koirala wondered. “If the new constitution is written within two years, it will definitely take at least four years to hold the next local body election.”

Dhakal argued that local body elections would certainly help contribute to writing new federal constitution. “Only elected representatives can represent the voice of people. The VDC secretaries are misusing their authority while issuing various recommendations for citizenship certificate and passports and so on,” he said. “Political parties are afraid of elections and showing unaccountability to hold the local body elections.”

Shanta Bahadur Shrestha, secretary at the MoFALD, said that they have faced series of hurdles to execute development programmes and deliver services to the people efficiently due to absence of elected representatives. “Though local body employees and civil servants are working to fulfill the vacuum of elected representatives, the role of accountability towards people could not be satisfactorily played. Every activity of governance and service delivery has been affected,” he said. “The ultimate solution to settle the problem is to hold local elections as soon as possible,” he added.

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