Special, protected and autonomous regions should be declared soon, say rights activists
Kathmandu, May 6
Rights activists have demanded that the government declare special, protected and autonomous areas as soon as possible.
Although the Balananda Paudel-led commission had intended to determine the numbers and boundaries of special, protected and autonomous regions, it failed to do so for multiple reasons.
Advocate Sunil Ranjan Singh who had served as a member of the former Local Levels Restructuring Commission led by Balananda Paudel said the government must determine the number and boundaries of special, protected and autonomous regions across the country.
“I want to give an example of my village. In fact, the situation of Dalits — Dom, Dusadh and Chamar — is very deplorable. Unless the government invests in their well-being, their progress is not possible,” he said and added that Dalits could prosper only when they do not have to worry about basic needs.
He said the former LLRC failed to determine the number and boundaries of special, protected and autonomous regions mainly because the commission had only three days left after the government published the number and boundaries of local levels on January 11, 2017. Singh said the LLRC did not get data from the government back then.
“We had planned to determine the number and boundaries of special, protected and autonomous regions in the second phase. We gave priority to determining the names, number and boundaries of the local levels because local polls were round the corner,” he added. He said the commission failed to determine special, protected or autonomous regions also because Article 56 (5) stated that there should be federal laws to complete the process.
Chair of Lawyers’ Association for Human Rights of Nepalese Indigenous Peoples Shanti Kumari Rai said minority communities were expecting the government to determine special, protected and autonomous regions without further delay. “Local Government Operation Act has given the power to local levels to determine special, protected and autonomous regions, but political parties are pressuring their representatives not to move ahead with the process. I think local people should mount pressure on their representatives to declare special, protected and autonomous regions in their jurisdictions,” she added.
Secretary of LAHURNIP Shankar Limbu said despite the constitutional provision, the government was not discussing the model of autonomy that could be introduced to protect the rights of indigenous nationalities and minorities.
“Perhaps the government is wary of the conflict that announcement of special, protected and autonomous regions could cause, but if that is the case, then the government should hold dialogue with the stakeholders and reach a solution,” he said and added that the international practice of seeking consent of the locals for local development was not being ensured in Nepal.
Secretary at the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya said the government needed to determine criteria for determining special, protected and autonomous regions after collecting data and preparing indexes which had not started yet. “We have not been able to do anything in this regard,” he said and added that the issues needed to be dealt with seriously as they were sensitive issues.
He said as per Local Government Operation Act, local levels, including the rural municipalities and municipalities, could determine any area within their jurisdictions as special, protected and autonomous regions but the central government needed to fix the criteria for the same.