Law on national pride projects sought

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Mar 16, 2017-On Wednesday, the Parliamentary Committee on Development directed the National Planning Commission to submit the draft of a law on national pride projects in Parliament within a month to expedite implementation of schemes considered strategically important for overall development of the country.

The House panel issued the instruction at a time where 21 national pride projects are being rolled out at snail’s pace, preventing the country from laying the groundwork to attain higher economic growth.

“None of the 21 national pride projects have been completed on time,” Development Committee Chirman Rabindra Adhikari told a meeting. “Take for example, the Melamchi Drinking Water Project, which was initiated in 2001 and was supposed to be completed in 2007. This project has yet to come into operation.”

So far the government has identified four irrigation projects, three hydropower projects, three international airports, six road projects, an electric railway project, a drinking water project, two projects aimed at promoting holy sites of Pashupati and Lumbini, and an environmental conservation project as national pride projects. But construction of many of these projects has yet to begin.

“It is therefore necessary to frame a law based on which construction of these projects can be accelerated,” Adhikari said.

The concept of ‘national pride project’ was first introduced in 2012. Yet, the government still has not framed any clear-cut criteria for selection of national pride projects. As a result, the label of ‘national pride’ is put on projects through Cabinet decisions, which many say, is an ad-hoc process.

To standardise the process of selecting these projects, the National Planning Commission, the apex body that frames country’s development plans and policies, has formed a committee under its member, Swarnim Wagle. The committee comprises officials of different ministries.

“The committee will submit a draft report to the NPC within two weeks, which will spell out criteria for selection of national pride projects,” said Wagle.

The draft report, according to Wagle, will recommend ways to simplify processes such as; carrying out environmental impact assessment; pooling public, private and forest land; and procuring construction materials, such as sand and boulders, for national pride projects.

“The draft report will also suggest ways to ease human resource hiring and procurement processes and ensure national pride projects get adequate budget for implementation,” Wagle said, adding, “The objective is to give certain concessions to national pride projects so that they could be completed on time.”

These recommendations, Wagle further said, could aid the process of framing the draft bill on national pride projects.

Historically, performance of national pride projects has remained very poor. In the first four months of the current fiscal year, for instance, over half of national

pride projects failed to meet 50 percent of the performance target.

Some of the common problems faced by these projects are delays in land acquisition, disputes between project officials and locals over compensation proposed by the government for land that needs to be acquired, unclear relocation and resettlement strategies, lack of coordination among officials, and protests launched by staff members.

Published: 16-03-2017 09:15

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