Madhes gets special development package

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu
Madhes gets special development package

Jul 14, 2015-

For the first time, Madhes has got special mention in the national budget with specific programmes for the plains. Though past budgets did have programmes for the Tarai, the 2015-16 fiscal plan has programmes for the region under a separate heading.

Stating that socio-economic gap still remains in the country, the government has this time pushed for a balanced development with specific programmes for Tarai-Madhes, mountain-hills and remote areas, Karnali and the Far West and the rural areas.

Though Madhesi leaders still have reservations about the budget, Madhes analysts have termed it as a positive and relatively more Madhes-oriented programme.

“Past budgets had programmes for Madhes, but this is the first time Tarai has been taken seriously,” said Madhes analyst Tula Narayan Shah. “Whatever has been mentioned in the budget, it is a positive beginning since our development focus has been hill-centric.”

Allocating Rs3.19 billion, the government has tried to give a new lease of life to the Postal Highway with a commitment to complete it within five years. Construction of the national priority project being developed with an Indian assistance was delayed at various sections due to contractors’ negligence. Madhesi lawmakers have been demanding early completion of the highway.

Former finance secretary Rameshore Khanal said it is probably the first time that Tarai has got such a focused and big budget. “If implemented properly, the budget will address the grievances of the Madhesi people about the state’s perceived neglect of them,” he said.

In a new initiative, the government has announced a special programme for socio-economic infrastructure development and income generation in 114 VDCs and four municipalities in Parsa, Bara, Rautahat, Sarlahi, Mahottari, Dhanusha, Siraha and Saptari districts where the poverty level is relatively higher. Rs160 million has been earmarked for the programme.

The focus on the eight central Tarai districts is based on the findings of Nepal Human Development Report-2014 that human development is at its lowest there. The report had stressed the need for more investments in central Tarai as well as mid-western and far-western hills where the development indicators are low.

Shah, however, said the focus on infrastructure alone is not enough for improving the human development situation in the plains.

“The budget has no focus on social progress,” said Shah, adding that there should be programmes for Muslims and Dalits. Funds have been allocated also for the upgradation of East-West Highway to four lanes. A feasibility study has been planned to establish 10 new cities in the southern plains.

The National Planning Commission organised a programme in Janakpur last year in the regard. A plan is announced to develop paddy production pockets in 12 districts. Apart from allocating Rs2.5 billion for the upgradation of Gautam Buddha Airport in Bhairahawa, the government has said it will upgrade the airports in Rajbiraj, Nepalgunj and Dhangadi. Madhesi leaders, however, said the budget is not inclusive. “Though there has been an improvement in funds allocation for Madhes, the budget is far from inclusive,” said Jitendra Narayan Dev, a Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik leader. Laxman Lal Karna of Sadbhawana Party said resources were scattered into many areas and there were no vital projects.

Money in Madhes

  • Rs3.19 billion for Postal Highway, commitment to complete its construction in 5 years

  • Special programme for socio-economic infrastructure development, income generation in 114 VDCs and four municipalities in eight central Tarai districts

  • Upgradation of East-West Highway to four lanes

  • Feasibility study for the establishment of 10 cities

  • Developing paddy production pockets in 12 districts

  • All agricultural land in Tarai to get irrigation facilities within five years

  • Installation of 48 deep tube wells this fiscal

  • Rs2.5 billion to upgrade Gautam Buddha Airport in Bhairahawa

  • Upgradation of airports in Rajbiraj, Nepalgunj and Dhangadi

Published: 15-07-2015 08:04

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