Thursday, July 26, 2007

The MoEST to have a separate department for environment conservation soon

By Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, July 25[2007]:
MoEST is doing homework to set up a Department of Environment Conservation. A draft concept paper in this regard will soon be forwarded to the chief secretary for final approval. A special team headed by joint secretary Khumraj Punjali has been formed to develop a framework for the department. “A separate department will give a boost to our environment conservation initiatives,” said Punjali.

According to the framework developed so far, the department will have six sections — environmental planning and auditing, pollution control and standard, laboratory and research, communication, law and administration. As per the framework, the new department will have less than 50 civil servants.

The MoEST believes that the department will be run by staffers of several government offices, who are capable but are lying idle. “So, it is not going to be a big financial liability for the ministry. Nonetheless, we will have to assign duties and responsibilities to staffers,” he said.

A government officer said, “The budget will not be a problem for the department as we have not been able to utilise budget allocated for us. Inability to execute projects is the problem.”

“The department will be outside Singha Durbar premises. This way, more and more people will visit us and we will interact with them on various issues,” the official said.

Source: The Himalayan Times, July 26, 2007

Monday, July 23, 2007

Melamchi office and staffers to be shifted to project site

Posted by Triratna Manandhar

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, July 22[2007]
The New Baneshwor-based office of the Melamchi Water Supply Project (MWSP) will be shifted to the project site — Melamchi Pool Bazaar of Sindhupalchowk — within a week. Though the decision to shift the office of the project, primarily responsible for bringing water from the Melamchi valley to the Kathmandu valley, was taken long time ago, the decision was not implemented.
The office, manned by over 100 staffers, is being shifted as per the direction of Minister for Physical Planning and Works, Hisila Yami. “The MWSP office will be shifted to the project site in a week or so, and the staffers’ strength will also be downsized so as to run the project more smoothly,” Ishwari Prasad Paudyal, spokesperson for the Ministry of Physical Planning and Works, told this daily.
The ministry has noted that the expenditure in the capital-based project office has been rising while locals of Melamchi have to come to the capital even to lodge complaints.
Taking into account the efficiency of MWSP staffers, the number of staffers will be reduced to a maximum of 80, Paudyal said.
Source: The Himalayan Times, July 23, 2007

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Excess staff, strike hit water supply body

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, July 18:

Staffers of the Nepal Water Supply Corporation have been on strike for the past three months, hitting drinking water supply in the capital. According to the government records, the capital is in need of 190 million litres of water daily while the government body has been able to supply only 80 to 90 million litres per day.
The water supply has been in disarray for years. After every government change, hundreds are appointed in the corporation due to political pressure. Sources said former minister of physical planning and works Gopal Man Shrestha was responsible for at least 150 appointments in the corporation.

“Over-staffing is spoiling our corporation. We have to employ more persons after every government change but there is no one to take care of the degrading distribution system,” Gautam Bahadur Amatya, the general manager of the NWSC, told this daily.He added that the “illegal recruitment” was rampant and some of them hired on daily-wage basis were enjoying the perks reserved for those on contract.

At present, the corporation has 2,252 on its staff, of which 1,579 are permanent. As many as 12 staffers are working on 1,000 pipelines in Nepal. “The pipeline to staffers ratio is incredibly high. Countries like Singapore, Philippines and South Korea are rendering far better service with one-third staff,” said Amatya. Chairman of NWSC Management Board Dr Laxmi Prasad Devkota said the board needed to take the bold and unpopular decision of cutting its staff. One of the prerequisite of handing over the NWSC to private company for successful implementation of Melamchi Water Supply Corporation was laying-off “excessive” staffers.

On the other hand, the trade unions claim that it won’t be fair to “dump” those who had been working for the corporation for years. Raj Kumar Thapa, secretary of the Joint Struggle Committee, said, “The management acted irresponsibly by not extending our friends’ contracts.”

NWSC forced shut
KATHMANDU: A joint-struggle committee of two trade unions of the Nepal Water Supply Corporation on Wednesday forced shut the office, as the management refused to extend the contract of 255-odd persons working for NWSC. Some of the trade union activists were hurt when the cops intervened while they were trying to lock the office door. — HNS

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Biogas plants to be installed in Valley

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, July 7[2007]:

The Water for Asian Cities (WAC) is extending partial financial support for construction of several biogas plants across the Kathmandu valley and develop them as models.

The construction aims at spreading a message that direct disposal of drain-water and waste in the rivers can be largely reduced by producing biogas from the wastes and help keep rivers cleaner.

WAC, a part of the UN-Habitat, is partially funding the construction of biogas plants in Khokna, Godavari, Kalimati, Patan, Tribhuvan University premises, Amrit Science College premises and Thimi.

“By promoting biogas plants in urban areas, we want to prove that we can contribute greatly to solid waste management and keeping the rivers free from pollution,” said Manandhar, a programme associate at the WAC. The demonstration plants will encourage installation of similar plants in the city localities, she said.

A biogas plant established at Manokranti Meditation Centre at Godawari has recently come into operation. The plant is fed with human night-soil to produce biogas for a canteen run at the centre. There are plans to install two plants on the premises of Tribhuwan University.

Each in the Boys’ Hostel on the TU premises and the Central Department of Environment Sciences (CDES).

Likewise, a biogas plant is also being installed at the hostel of Amrit Science College, Lainchour, where night-soil and other organic waste will be fed. Another biogas plant is being installed at the vegetable market at Dhapagal of Patan, which will be fed with vegetable waste produced in the area.

Meanwhile, the waste-water treatment plant at Sungaa of Thimi Municipality is also being converted into a biogas plant. Further, construction of a community-level biogas plant at the Khokna village of Lalipur has completed. A study is being carried out to establish a biogas plant to manage the vegetable waste produced at the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market as well.
[ KATHMANDU, JULY 08, 2007, Ashad 24, 2064]

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Poor to pay dear for Melamchi water

Razen Manandhar Kathmandu, July 4

Once the ambitious Melamchi Water Supply Project (MWSP) sees the light of day, private water vendors will literally sell water, especially to the poor living in the slums of the valley.A Low Income Consumer Support Unit (LICSU), a side project of the MWSP, is going to handle the supply to the poor through local interested bodies who will collect money from the poor for letting them use the community taps, to be installed for the the slums dwellers and the squatters.

The LICSU will be a part of Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited, the authority to generate water sources and manage and distribute the water supply in the valley.

After consulting the LICSU, the management contractor will prepare a plan — Community Tap Improvement Plan (CTIP) — to improve the service from the standposts. It will detail the LICSU’s role in managing the drinking water in slums by transferring management responsibility for existing standposts to either Water User Groups, municipalities or private water vendors, according to the draft contract paper of MWSP.
It is not clear who will be the water vendors, and how they will be authorised to collect money from the slum dwellers for using taps.

The water utility office and the operators of the community taps will reach a community tap connection agreement (CTCA). The management contractor will not be responsible to relocate the old community taps. “The funding for the relocation of the existing standposts and the construction of new community taps will be obtained from external sources,” adds the contract paper, without clarifying the source.
As per the contract, up to 350 new community taps will be installed in the valley. As per the arrangement, the LICSU should have called local operators by May 1, but the controversy surrounding the Melamchi project has delayed that.

Diwas Bahadur Basnet, the team leader of LICSU project, says the project intends to provide drinking water at affordable price. “We are doing our best to provide water to the poor, who, otherwise, will be deprived access to water,” he said.

Source: The Himalayan Times, July 5 2007,