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ICYMI: Here are our top stories from Sunday, May 12

- Post Report, Kathmandu

May 12, 2019-

Here are some of the top stories from The Kathmandu Post (May 12, 2019).

Despite action plans and ambitious targets, Nepal lags behind in e-mobility transition

On a usual working day, around 1.5 million vehicles fill up the streets of Kathmandu Valley with their emissions, contributing hazardous levels of particulate matter in the air. And among the million gas guzzlers, a few hundred electric vehicles can be spotted, passing by without contributing to the noise or emissions that choke hundreds and thousands of commuters daily. But these noise- and pollution-free vehicles are rarely noticeable.

As countries around the world make a pitch to go electric in order to curb carbon emissions released in the atmosphere, Nepal too, at least in principle, has decided to join the call. But when it comes to implementation, the campaigners, environmentalists and even officials and policymakers say in unison: there are challenges galore.

Rupa Joshi, a former communications head at UNICEF Nepal, is one of the few electric car owners in town. She is often seen navigating the busy thoroughfares of Kathmandu in her Mahindra e2o.

Joshi, who has been driving an electric car for the last six years, is well acquainted with electric mobility initiatives in Nepal spanning over decades from the rise and death of the Kathmandu-Bhaktapur trolley bus and Safa Tempos.

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Supreme Court set to hear review petition on its landmark 2015 ruling

In February 2015, the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling ordering the government to revise the Enforced Disappearances Enquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act-2014. The court ruled that the law failed to adhere to the principles of transitional justice and international practices.

The verdict, which came in response to a writ filed by a group of 234 conflict victims, struck down almost a dozen provisions in the Act and directed the government to ensure that no amnesty is awarded in cases of serious human rights violations committed during the decade-long insurgency.

But in April that year, the government led by Sushil Koirala filed a review petition, challenging the ruling issued by a special bench led by then chief justice Kalyan Shrestha. Then chief secretary Leela Mani Paudyal had filed the petition through the Office of the Attorney General Office on the government’s behalf.

The petition, which gathered dust in the court for four years, is up for hearing—on Thursday. And this has caused concern among conflict victims and human rights defenders, as the hearing is set to take place at a time when the government is facing pressure—from conflict victims and rights defenders at home as well as the international community—to amend the Act in line with the 2015 court verdict and international obligations.

“It’s hard to believe that it is just a coincidence,” Kapil Shrestha, a professor at the Tribhuvan University and a former member of the National Human Rights Commission, told the Post. “I won’t be surprised if the verdict gets reversed.”

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After labour deal, Japanese employers are coming forward to hire Nepali workers

Nearly two months after Nepal and Japan signed a labour agreement in Kathmandu, Japanese employers have started showing interest in hiring Nepali workers.

Although formal negotiations between officials from both the countries have not made significant progress since the signing of the agreement in last March, allowing entry of Nepali workers to the Asian giant nation, “Japanese employers have come forward to provide jobs to Nepali workers”, according to officials.

A high-level source at the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security, a handful of companies have directly reached out to the government, expressing their interest to hire Nepali workers once the migration of Nepali workers begins.

“A few companies have approached us and told us that they would like to hire workers from Nepal,” said a ministry official on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak about the ongoing negotiations regarding the labour deal, as it also involves diplomatic relations between two countries. “This is a good beginning,” he said.

Japan has enlisted a total of 14 sectors for which it plans to hire an estimated 345,150 foreign workers from nine countries including Nepal, which is the only South Asian nation on the list.

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Authorities to send more specimens abroad to test for bird flu virus

The Epidemiology and Disease Control Division says it is preparing to send specimens collected from the people who came in close contact with the person who died after contracting the H5N1 (bird flu) virus on March 29.

The division, under the Department of Health Services, had formed a team of medical doctors and lab technicians to carry out an epidemiological investigation after the death of a 21-year-old from Kavrepalanchok district from the bird flu virus.

“We have collected specimens from doctors, nurses, close family members, relatives, and hospitals--and also from homes,” Dr Bibek Kumar Lal, director at the division, told the Post.

The name of the deceased has not been disclosed yet, but he was said to be residing in Bhaktapur in a rented room and worked as a driver.

The Health Ministry, however, announced only on April 30 that the man had died from H5N1. Throat swabs of the deceased had been sent to the World Health Organisation’s Collaborating Centre for Influenza in Japan, which confirmed that he had contracted Influenza A (H5N1), which caused his death.

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Nepali films have evolved, they are getting more modern—and more misogynistic

In November 2017, when actor Reecha Sharma expressed discontent at the portrayal of a female character in the film Chhakka Panja, the filmmakers didn’t take it lightly. In a coordinated campaign, the director and actors all banded together on social media to hound Sharma, supported by their fans. Chhakka Panja, the directorial debut of Deepa Shree Niraula, went on to become one of the biggest blockbusters of 2016, and Sharma’s criticism was just a blip on the film’s trajectory.

“I asked Deepa didi, how can you make such a film, where a female character agrees to marry a man on the condition that he gets to slap his wife every night,” Sharma had said about the film, during a panel discussion at the Ekadeshma International Short Film Festival. “I was so angry at the audiences’ reaction to the scene--both men and women--who were applauding with enjoyment. And I felt like a fool.”

The public rivalry between Sharma and the Chhakka Panja film crew overshadowed what was Sharma’s larger point of criticism--the stereotypical and at times harmful, representation of women in Nepali films.

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Published: 12-05-2019 19:00

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