The issue of local body restructuring is pushing Nepal into a major political crisis

Oct. 4, 2016, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol 10, No 5, October 7 (Asoj 21, 2073)

An angry mob snatched the bundles of paper from government officials, who in Fikkal Village of Ilam district, 600 kilometers east of Kathmandu, collecting the views of the people on the restructuring of local bodies on behalf of the Local Body Restructuring Technical Committee.

“This is a question of our life and death. If the government presses on its own, people will revolt against the political parties. Who are they to carve out our villages from Kathmandu?” asked a Rameshwor Sharma, a local civil society member.

Expressing dissatisfaction with the recommendation made by Local Body Restructuring Technical Committee, the locals of Yasok, Ranigaun and Syabrumba VDCs picketed District Development Committee Office in Panchthar.

The committee had earlier recommended Mehelbote of Angsarang as the centre of Kammayak village assembly; although Yasok, according to disgruntled locals, is better suited since it is equipped with necessary infrastructure and government buildings.

Political activists, civil society members and stakeholders from the VDCs thronged the office using 83 motorbikes and three pick-up vans in the protest.

Durga Prasad Bamjan of Syabrumba VDC said that the district level leaders and Local Development Officer unilaterally proposed Mehelbote as the centre without consulting locals and other stakeholders. “The decision is myopic and against the interest of the locals,” said Purna Khadka of Ranigaun.

Receiving a memorandum, Acting Local Development Officer Bhanu Bhakta Baral said that he would send the memorandum to the Local Body Restructuring Commission as it is.

The demonstrators chanted slogans against the recommendation and marched to the office of the Nepali Congress, the CPN –UML, the CPN-MC and Limbuwan Party, among others.

Similar sentiments are there all over the country. As the Madhesh-based parties protested, the restructuring process in Terai districts is yet to take a shape. As disputes are intensifying across Nepal, the committee is preparing to write the report.

“Except from a few districts, we are receiving positive reports. We are now in the process of finalization and we will submit the report by the end of month,” said chairman of the commission Balananda Paudel.

However, the Ministry of Local Development and Federal Affairs sees the situation differently. Out of 75 districts, there are disputes in almost all districts over the issues of boundary and numbers of local bodies.

The Commission, which has proposed 556 local bodies, is sticking to its own proposal. However, political parties have different views. Nepali Congress and Maoist leaders want to increase the number and CPN-UML has sided with Commission. However, Madheshis are not taking part in the debate.

At a time when the three political parties are imposing their terms, people are coming out with their own modalities. If things do not change, the country may be likely to go into a prolonged course of conflict.


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