NARC scientists, employees on strike

Kathmandu, June 14 :

The Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC) Management Reform Struggle Committee (NMRSC) is on the warpath against the government’s “unnecessary” interference in the appointment of an executive director (ED) of the NARC and the expulsion of the one who had been appointed as per the council’s act.

Putting forth its three-point charter of demands, the NMRSC has been protesting at the NARC offices since the last nine days. It has halted all activities of the council and has been staging a sit-in protest while not allowing the acting executive director to enter office.

Scientists and employees at the NARC are demanding that the government re-consider the decision to dismiss the executive director appointed as per the NARC act and rehabilitate him. The government dismissed the earlier director citing reasons that he was appointed by the previous royal regime. “Our movement will not stop even if the government appoints another ED after dismissing the present acting one. Our struggle is for the establishment of a system in the council,” said Dr Sriram Neupane, member of the struggle committee, while addressing a press conference organised here today. He added that the NMRSC wants the Loktantrik government to help NARC run by its own system. Spokesperson of the struggle committee, Dr Keshav Prasad Poudel, said the major demand was rehabilitation of the dismissed ED.

The agitating scientists and employees want the government to dismiss the acting ED Dularchand Sahu Pathik “who was questioned by the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority ” and who worked as an advisor to royalist minister Badri Mandal.They are demanding that the organisation structure be made as per the Indian Council of Agricultural Research , which is a model of agricultural research in South Asia. Alleging “unnecessary political interference” that has been a chronic hindrance to progress, the NMRSC members said in the last 15 years NARC got no less than 14 chiefs. The struggle committee threatened it would launch a lockout if the government did not look sharp.

Spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Asheswor Jha, said the ministry only implemented the decision of the cabinet. “Talks have begun with the agitators,” he said, adding that Pathik was only a stop-gap measure and that the actual apointment of an ED was in the pipeline and it would be done according to procedure. Asked about the chances of reinstating the ousted ED, Jha said the ministry had no authority to do that.