Mountain of a mess

  • This year, Dashain has been a lacklustre affair
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Oct 26, 2015-

This year the locals of Majhigaun, Kavre did not receive Tika from their elders during Dashain. They instead mourned the death of 11 people who died in the April earthquake. The quake also destroyed around 100 houses of people from the Majhi community. To make matters worse, the monsoon flooded around 100 ropanis of land in the village. In neighbouring Makwanpur district, many people did not even return home to mark the annual festival. Dashain, an occasion for family members spread far and wide to gather and renew old ties, failed to live up to its name.

The trail of destruction left behind by April-May quakes and the continued failure of the political parties to begin reconstruction was bad enough. Then came the ‘blockade’ imposed by India and the resultant shortage of essential goods, particularly petroleum products including cooking gas. Nepalis across the country could not travel to their homes as more than 50 percent of the vehicles remained off the road due to acute fuel shortage and continuing protests in the Tarai.

In a desperate move to beat the fuel crisis, some are travelling across the border and are transporting cooking gas and petrol in public vehicles. A few days back, a bus travelling to Kohalpur from Butwal met with an accident and burst into flames killing eight people. The bus passengers were transporting petrol. In the Capital, three members of a family were killed when their stored petrol caught fire. Perhaps, such fatal incidents could have been avoided had the government been able to ensure the smooth supplies.

But even as Dashain draws to a close, officials have not been able to convince the Nepali people that things will be any different in the days to come. It looks as though the newly formed government is able to turn a blind eye to the empty roads across the country because its ministers neither have to walk to work nor travel dangerously on the rooftops of congested buses. Their vehicles, funded by public money, never seem to stop. The common Nepalis have already parked their cars and motorcycles due to lack of fuel; some others have had to return empty-handed after queuing up outside petrol pumps for hours.

The Nepali people are certainly a patient lot. But the government must stop testing their limits. Now that the festivities are over, it must immediately be able to sort out the mess it has created. First, it must reach out to the disgruntled Madhesi leaders and reach an agreement with them. Second, it should do all it can to end the embargo imposed by India, putting up best possible diplomatic efforts. In the long run, the government must come up with a sound energy policy that is less dependent on fossil fuel and India.

Many Nepalis, like the Majhi community in Kavre, have already lost so much this year. The least the Oli government can now do is to assure its people that it exists. A government will ultimately be judged for its delivery, not its rhetoric—even more so in a crisis situation.  

Published: 26-10-2015 08:50

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