Kathmandu, February 14
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli is not very fond of people living by the riverside, who try to create roadblocks for project developers.
Whenever a project is about to be built on a river, PM Oli said, locals try to create obstructions saying the river is theirs.
“The locals may have migrated to that area recently, but they dare to say the river is theirs. How can a river, which has been flowing for hundreds or thousands of years, belong to an individual or a group of individuals?” PM Oli questioned during inauguration of the five-day training for government officials on project development agreement organised jointly by the Investment Board Nepal (IBN) and Nepal Administrative Training Centre today.
He was reciting this parable to illustrate how families residing by the riverside can create hurdles for project developers because of misconception about projects being built there.
“These people, who are not happy about the project, then come across a booklet of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which talks about special privileges (agradhikar) of locals. And this provides fodder to launch protests,” the PM said.
While tension is simmering by the riverside, people living on top of a hill, who are not going to be affected by the project, also place demands for ‘construction of a school’ in their neighbourhood, the PM continued.
These protests and unnecessary demands, according to PM Oli, prompt project developers to flee, preventing Nepal from making use of available resources and leaving the country in its underdeveloped form.
“All these incidents are taking place as local people have not been told about benefits of projects that are being built. So, they inadvertently use the ILO booklet to launch protest even though they do not understand what the content really means,” the PM said. “This is the same with people living on top of a hill who make various demands. If they were told benefits of the project, being developed on river basin, would be transferred to hill once it is completed, they probably wouldn’t place unnecessary demands.”
It is, therefore, essential that the public administration take the lead in explaining locals about benefits of development activities to ensure projects being built in country do not face hurdles during implementation, the PM added.
“The local administration should always highlight development prospects of the country and benefits development projects could deliver to all the citizens. This will convince the locals that their cooperation would help develop the entire nation and provide impetus to the government’s effort to share prosperity,” the PM said and added, “Nature has given a lot to us, yet the country is not prosperous because we have not been able to exploit our resources. So, country’s development is not possible if it is not able to use its resources in an effective and efficient manner.”
IBN CEO Radhesh Pant said many projects that are handed over to foreign developers face problems during implementation because locals think those projects have been permanently transferred to foreigners.
“These are projects being built under Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model,” Pant said. “These projects may have been built by foreign developers but they are partners of the government. And these projects will ultimately have to be handed over to the government after 20 or 25 years of commercial operation. So, these projects also belong to the government and local stakeholders should cooperate during implementation phase.”
A version of this article appears in print on February 16, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.