Chief District Officer of Kathmandu District Administrative Office Yek Narayan Aryal has already shown how service delivery system can be made efficient and effective. Aryal spoke New Spotlight on various issues. Excerpts:
As the chief district officer of the nation's capital, Kathmandu, how difficult is it to work here?
Since Kathmandu is the capital of Nepal with all the central administrative offices and economic activities, I do have a lot of work to do. As the chief of a district office involved with delivery of public service, I need to be vigilant all the time. My other duty is to maintain law and order. As the capital is the face of any country, the law and order of the capital is very important. However, what I can claim is that the law and order of Kathmandu is absolutely in the right place. Despite so many political and other rallies, we have been able to maintain law and order.
The recent earthquake has badly damaged many parts of Kathmandu, what are your experiences of working in such a big natural disaster?
Earthquake is unpredictable. It does not happen with a prior warning. Taking precautions is the most important part to cope with any disaster, including the earthquake. All Nepalese, particularly the residents of Kathmandu Valley, know this challenge during natural disaster. Earthquake is a regular phenomenon of our country. I must share the fact that our security forces reached the earthquake devastated areas promptly, rescuing a number of people trapped and buried in the debris. Although the scale of earthquake was so big, we were able to successfully manage it. The credit goes to all Nepal’s security forces, civil servants, NGOs, INGOs, international rescue missions and communities.
How do you see the state of Kathmandu in terms of its building? How risky is it for the coming days?
Haphazard building construction is a major threat to Kathmandu. As long as there are unauthorized buildings, you cannot reduce the risk of damage and death from earthquake. We have been facing all the problems because we have constructed the houses by ignoring the building codes. People constructed five stories with the design prepared for two stories of houses. In four-feet-wide roads, people are operating hotels. Most of the houses which were recently destroyed by the earthquake were built by violating the basic building codes. Because of narrow lanes and roads, it was very difficult to launch rescue and relief missions. In Belau and Sitapaila, the rescue missions spent a lot of time to dig the way and rescue people. We also didn’t have equipment to carry out the relief operation.
What do you suggest to make the city safe from earthquake?
I think there is the need to destroy the houses which were built by violating the building codes and there is also the need to clear the haphazard constructions. I have been saying this for the last many years. In many places, the house owners are themselves taking the initiative to dismantle the floors, which were built by violating the building codes.
What steps are you taking for the building codes to be honoured?
We are now reviewing the current building code by way of discussion with Kathmandu Metropolitan and Kathmandu Town Planning Offices. Less than 60 percent houses in Kathmandu were built by taking the permission from Kathmandu Metropolitan Office. However, remaining houses were constructed without such permissions. People have constructed six floors by getting the permission for two floors. We need to dismantle the houses which were built violating the building codes and laws. We can consider for those houses which were constructed with minimum modification. There is the need to dismantle the houses which violated the rule.
What other suggestions do you have?
The time has come for the Municipality to fix the life of the houses. Many houses were destroyed in old cities like Sankhu because the houses were centuries old. Most of the houses destroyed in the villages are aged houses and the houses destroyed in the cities are those built violating the building codes. We need to manage the cities. I am taking this issue. We all are working together.
You are the Chief District Officer of Kathmandu. What tangible change have you made here?
I have started record keeping of all public land of Kathmandu. On an average, 5,000 people visit our office. We have arranged a toll-free call facility to listen to their grievances and used even the social media for this. One can fill all kinds of forms from our online system. Similarly, we display the citizen charter as nobody needs to go for seeking information. I have digitalized all the systems. We are making optimum level efforts to satisfy the people. You can see the improvement in our service delivery. We have distributed citizen charters for all the district level offices of Kathmandu. This student charter is binding for 33 three different district level offices in Kathmandu. The aim of student charter is to improve the service delivery system.
How do you make the office system more efficient?
Kathmandu District Administrative Office is applying the Standard Operating Procedures. We have also installed two digital Citizen Charters to make our service delivery system more effective. There is also a help desk to inform various services available in the office. Through 14 CC TV cameras, chief district officer can monitor the activities of various sectors. One can download forms to apply for passport, citizenship certificate, Minor Certificate, refugee identity card, marriage registration, registration of organization, newspaper and weapon license.
How do you see the law and order in Kathmandu?
It has improved a lot. We have made a system to reach the police to the site of incidents in ten minutes. I have implemented the Standard Procedures to make the work of Kathmandu District Administrative Office more effective and efficient.
From distribution of citizenship certificate to processing the passports, my office is also responsible for many other issues, including registration of the marriage and other issues. We also renew and register NGOs and other organizations. As an institution related to day to day life of the people, our service benefits the people. I have made a lot of improvements in the administrative functions of the district following the implementation of SP. I don’t want people to face any problem from our service delivery. We have also developed a feedback mechanism and complaint system.
What is your main achievement here?
This is my second district where I have served as the chief district officer. I also served as the Chief District Officer of Makwanpur. I came here eight months ago and there were over 3,800 pending cases related to public offense, including cheating, black marketing and adulteration in food. I have already cleared over 3,400 cases in the last eight months and there are over 400 cases now. I am proud to say that this is the first time our team has done it. You can see all the details of the cases in records. One man cannot change everything. We have already collected the information regarding the public lands of Kathmandu. I have also made a mandatory provision for the registration of night bars and clubs so that violence against women can be controlled.