ICYMI: Here are our top stories from Wednesday, April 24

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Apr 24, 2019-

Here are some of the top stories from The Kathmandu Post (April 24, 2019).

Progress in two key projects under BRI unlikely during President’s China visit

After Nepal signed up to China’s flagship initiative in May 2017, there was a lot of talks about funding from the northern neighbour. The government had formed two committees--led by the foreign and finance secretaries--to identify projects for negotiations with the Chinese side. A finance secretary-led committee had listed at least 35 projects to develop under the BRI funding.

After sluggish progress in negotiations in the following months, the Chinese side insisted that Nepal bring down the number of projects under the initiative. Accordingly, the government had made a list of nine projects to be funded under the BRI.

“But as the situation stands today”, the officials said not much should be expected under the BRI. And the major bone of contention is funding modality.

“The Chinese are hardly in favour of aid or grant for projects,” Mahesh Maskey, Nepal’s former Ambassador to China, told the Post.

“They believe that projects under grant or aid promote corruption; they lay stress on loan,” said Maskey, who served as Nepal’s envoy to Beijing from 2012 to 2016.

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Rs429 billion needed to complete reconstruction, says NRA

The NRA had estimated a budget of Rs 938 billion for its five-year reconstruction and rehabilitation plan; of which, Rs 186 billion was spent by the fiscal year 2017/18.

The revised projected expenditure for the current fiscal year has been set at Rs 123 billion.

“We have expected that around Rs 200 billion will be mobilised through the government's regular budget programme, private and NGO sectors. This shows that we will need an additional Rs 429 billion to complete the overall reconstruction works,” Gyewali said. “The status of reconstruction will depend on our proper financial management. We have started discussing this with the Ministry of Finance and the donors.”

Reshuffling of government employees, which led to the transfer of many experienced reconstruction staff to provincial and local governments;  protracted political transition and constitution promulgation process; the border blockade enforced by India; delay in the formation of the reconstruction authority, eight months after the disaster; and frequent changes in the NRA leadership, also affected the post-quake recovery works, according to Gyewali.

The NRA chief also briefed about the progress made by the authority so far.

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Gautam Buddha airport project faces material supply problems

Construction work on Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa has hit a snag with local authorities demanding a higher price for riverbed materials. The country’s national pride project was on track for year-end completion, but after Butwal Sub-Metropolitan City refused to provide gravel and sand at the old rate, the scheme could be looking at time and cost overruns.

Project officials said that if the sub-metropolitan city sticks to its stance to charge for riverbed materials at current market rates, construction would be halted from next week. The sub-metropolitan city had signed an agreement with the project to provide 17,228 cubic metres of riverbed materials, but it prevented the project from extracting the materials stating that the rates quoted earlier were low, according to project officials. 

Chakrapani Sharma, chief administrative officer of Butwal, said that a meeting of the municipal council had decided to allow the project to extract the materials after revising the rates. “The rates quoted earlier were low compared to the current market rate. Whatever decision was made earlier, the council has decided to enforce the latest decision,” he said.

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Loktantra Day: People injured in police brutality decry government’s apathy

Narayan Dutta Bhatta, in his early forties, had led a massive protest rally that proceeded towards the main market place from Campus Chowk in Dhangadhi during the People’s Movement II in 2006.

The personnel of Nepal Police and the Armed Police Force intervened in the rally and baton-charged the crowd mercilessly. Many protesters managed to flee, though injured, but the security force cornered Bhatta, the then Kailali chief of the Nepali Congress, and thrashed him until he fell unconscious. The police, according to some locals who took part in the protest, left Bhatta on the street thinking that he had died. Miraculously, Bhatta survived.

Bhatta, now 55, suffered a hip bone fracture due to the police brutality, and has since been disabled. The locals took him immediately to Lakhimpur for treatment. He was later admitted to the Kathmandu-based TU Teaching Hospital. He also underwent a surgery at Apollo Hospital in India. After a 22-month long treatment, he returned home.

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Leadership failed to follow principle of inclusivity, ruling party leaders say

Inclusion, equality, social justice have been the constant refrain of Nepal’s political parties, but they hardly practice what they preach.

On Monday, when the ruling Nepal Communist Party announced conclusion of its unification—the party was formed after the merger of the CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Centre)—Chairman KP Sharma Oli promised to follow the principle of inclusive democracy.

But a look at the list of leadership in district committees, an understanding on which ultimately led to the conclusion of the unification, shows woeful representation of women, Dalit and Janajati members.

Of the 77 chairpersons appointed for district committees, only three are women--Munu Sigdel of Makwanpur, Ruku Lamichhane of Kavre and Madhu Adhikary of Lamjung while Som Maya Rai of Ilam is the only woman secretary selected.

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Published: 24-04-2019 19:08

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