Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Handing over of NWSC on February 13

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, January 22:

The long-awaited handing over of the assets of Nepal Water Supply Corporation (NWSC) to an “autonomous” body, Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited (KUKL), will take place in three weeks. Coincidentally,Timila Yami Thapa, Physical Planning minister Hisila Yami’s sister, was nominated as its chief on January 13 .

The government is now set to hand over those portions of NWSC, which belong to sections of the valley, to Kathmandu Valley Water Supply Management Board (KVWSMB) on February 13 and the board will transfer those assests to the KUKL to facilitate the process of reformation of Kathmandu Valley’s water management.

“The handover will take place on February 13. By handing over the assets of NWSC to the board, we will open gates for further development in water management for the Kathmandu Valley,” said Suman Sharma, joint-secretary at the ministry.

He added that the ministry is working to make it happen on time, as lots of processes have to be gone through before the handover.

Earlier, the handover was scheduled for October 1 but it was delayed due to the lengthy process of valuation of the NWSC assets and political changes.

The handover was one of the conditions set by the donors for a loan of US$ 500 million to the Melamchi Water Supply Project. The donors, mainly Asian Development Bank, had demanded that the water distribution body in Kathmandu Valley be handed over to an autonomous body before the loan for Melamchi project is sanctioned, so that it could be kept away from political intervention.

Before the handover takes place, the property of NWSC has already been sent to the ministry, following a cabinet decision, so that it would now be authorised to hand over the government property to the semi-government institution KVWSMB.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

EC to educate voters in 17 ethnic languages

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, January 19:

For the first time in the Nepal’s election history, the trainers of the Election Commission are visiting around 4,000 villages with an offer to educate about the process and technicalities of the constituent assembly election in 17 ethnic languages.

According to Central Bureau of Statistics of Nepal, there are 102 languages spoken in the country by 61 ethnic communities, besides the official Nepali language.

“We are going to the voters with a wide variety of mother tongues, to educate them about the technicalities of the election process for the first time,” said Laxman Bhattarai, the EC’s spokesperson.

He said that teaching the voters in mother languages has become necessary in the present context. “It is a necessary move. Even in villages around the Kathmandu Valley, members of many Newar communities do not understand Nepali. The situation is even more difficult in the Tarai and mountain regions,” he said.

The major languages, which are being included in the list of voters’ education are Newar, Tamang, Gurung, Magar, Tharu, Maithali, Bhojpuri, Rai, Limbu, among others.

The contents of the instructions will include brief introduction of the constituent assembly, its significance, the methodology of the election, the need of voting and how one is qualified or disqualified for voting.

“The trainers will basically tell the voters what the election is about and why it is important to cast a vote in the election,” he said.

The voters’ education will formally begin by February 27, for which two Voters’ Education Volunteers from local community schools will stay in villages for 45 days and they will deliver training in around 4,000 villages. The training for the volunteers will begin by February 4 and they will move to their destinations following the training. The total number of trainers for the voters’ education will be around 9,000.

“The training materials are being printed. We have posters, pamphlets, stickers, flip charts and other materials for the trainers,” he said. According to the EC schedule, the materials will be prepared, produced and transported by February 13.

Chairman of Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities, Pasang Sherpa, welcomed the EC’s step with caution.

“We welcome the government step to recognise the local languages and also to teach them about the election thorough their mother tongues,” he said, adding that the real implication of the step, however, will be appreciable only when the efforts are implemented.

ABC of CA polls:
• EC trainers are visiting 4,000 villages to educate people about the process and technicalities of the constituent assembly election
• Even in villages around the Kathmandu Valley, members of many Newar communities
do not understand Nepali. The situation is more difficult in the Tarai and mountain regions
• There are 102 languages spoken in the country by 61 ethnic communities, besides the
official Nepali language

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Melamchi water project-hit seek aid [in Kabhre]

Razen Manandhar
Kavre, January 9:

While the families affected by the Melamchi Water Supply Project (MWSP) in Sindhupalchowk are getting various assistance, those who live in neighbouring district Kavre are still left unattended.

The project had identified five VDCs of Kavre — - Gairibisaina Deupur, Mahadevsthan, Chandeni Mandan, Jaishithok and Panchkhal — as affected areas. But the residents in the VDCs are given peanuts and their demands have been neglected, locals said. These villages are the gateways in order to reach the MWSP’s main site.

“Earlier, the MWSP has assured that villagers would be compensated. But now, we are left high and dry,” said Krishna Prasad Dotel, a local of Sipaghat who is to receive compensation for his over one ropani of field.

“We should get over Rs 1.2 million as per the land valuation price of the project. But it refused to give us compensation because our land was excluded from the Department of Road’s documents,” he said.

Villagers, after their demands were ignored, have started seizing the vehicles belonging to the MWSP. A project vehicle is now under the local people’s control.

“We were forced to do this as officers at the project never listened our voice,” said Yognath Dotel, the vice-chairman of the local Prabhabit Chhetra Mandan Upatyaka Bikas Samiti.

He said the MWSP has identified a total of 53 VDCs as possible affected areas by the project and demand that the project provide necessary relief for the residents of the five VDCs in Kavre. Of over a 100 affected families, only 45 has received compensation, he said.

He said the MWSP should provide them the due compensation to the residents of the five VDCs and black top the 26km road linking Panchkhal Zerokilo to Melamchi Bazaar.

“Various programmes related to health and education should be launched in the areas affected by the project,” Dotel said.
[ KATHMANDU, JANUARY 10, 2008, Poush 26, 2064 ]

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

"Meet" revival in Melamchi

Razen Manandhar
Melamchi, January 8

Two young men sat opposite and offered tika on each other’s forehead, while family members and neighbours clapped their hands. It was not marriage, has nothing to do with homosexuality. They were tying themselves with the knot of “meet”, the sacred friendship.

Yubraj Khadka and Netra Narayan Sharma, both of 24 years, met almost accidentally a year ago in business. They became friends and it eventually turned into lifelong relation of meet.

The ritual of tying in meet relation, said to be legendary, has already vanished in the modern and urban life-style, but they can still be found occasionally in villages.

In a hilly village of Chanaute Bazaar of Melamchi, some five hours drive form the capital, it was a matter of curiosity for the neighbourhood as it takes place once in a blue moon. Even elderly people do not know the exact process of the rituals. But they managed to do it.

An oil-lamp was placed on a bowl with rice, a plate with red tika, a tray of fruits and some gifts were spread on the floor. A group of spectators were waiting eagerly how it would be done.

The two men stood up, a red shawl stretched between them separated to two friends – to that they cannot see each other’s face - to that and the ritual began. The two greeted each-other for three times and offered tika. Then the wives followed the same rituals – to show that it was not only the interpersonal relationship but it is the knot between the two families. In the third round, one greeted his meet’s wife. In this round, they were careful; they did not step on the same mattress.

After the completion, exchange of gifts took place and a reception followed. The neighbours and other guests congratulated the friends and wished for their long-lasting and legendary friendship.

“Let their friendship be as that of the legendary meets Krishna and Sudama. They did not forget their friends even in the most difficult situations in the life,” said Bir Bahadur Khadka, an elderly relative, who joined the reception. He added that the two meets are not supposed to sleep in same bed and eat in the same plate, though they can cross all limits of intimacy. “Meets are like twins. They are allowed to share family secret and even can inherit parental property too,” he added.

The meet-friendship between singer Narayan Gopal and Gopal Yonjan is remembered here among the literary circle.

Khadka and Sharma lived so far away – first from Sindhupalchok and the second from Parbat. They belonged to different castes, had different professions and lived in quite different social backgrounds. But no barrier could stop them from turning into life-long friends.

“Its like a dream. I never though that our friendship would turn into a meet,” said Khadka, talking with the guests. And Sharma added that he would pray to the god for sincere maintenance of the sacred relation.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Only 2 pc of tube wells in Tarai have arsenic

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, January 5:

Only two per cent of the tube wells in the Tarai region have arsenic-contaminated water. Arsenic is a natural mineral which is found in underground water and is suspected to cause cancer if consumed for a long duration.

“It is a good news for the Tarai people that water from only a few tube wells were found to have arsenic contamination,” said Abadh Kishor Mishra, the chief of Water Quality Improvement and Monitoring Section at the Department of Water Supply and Sewage (DWSS), talking to this daily today.

He was citing the preliminary results of tests of arsenic contamination in water from some 735,000 tube wells across the country. The study shows that tubewells in Nawalparasi have the highest concentration of arsenic, while other districts like Siraha, Kapilbastu, Rupandehi, Bara and Rautahat also have concentration of this element.

The government, with support from various international donor agencies, is conducting arsenic test in water from around 1.1 million tube wells in 20 southern districts by the end of this fiscal year.

The project has completed testing tube wells in most districts except in Jhapa, Morang, Mahottari, Chitwan, Dang and Bardiya. He further said that precaution should be taken to avoid drinking water containing arsenic. “Even a single tube well with arsenic contaminated water is a national problem. We are fully aware that it is the state’s duty to raise awareness among the people,” he said.

He further said that the residents of the locality with arsenic-contaminated water have been requested to avoid consuming such water.
[ KATHMANDU, JANUARY 06, 2008, Poush 22, 2064]