Don’t hurry with report, SAC tells LBRC

Kathmandu, July 5

Members of the State Affairs Committee of the Parliament today told the Local Bodies Restructuring Commission not to prepare its report in haste or else the municipal and village areas could witness new conflicts.

Members of the parliamentary panel issued this caveat to the commission when Commission Chief Balanand Paudel made a presentation before the members of the panel at Singha Durbar today about the works of the commission.

They also told the commission not to politically and culturally gerrymander any area at the behest of influential political parties or people.

Nepali Congress lawmaker Purna Bahadur Khadka said the commission needed to prepare its report without thinking of the government’s plan to hold local polls in November.

“If the commission prepares its report in haste to suit the government’s plan to hold elections in November, it will invite disaster,” Khadka said, adding that the restructuring of local bodies could take some time. He said the commission’s work would satisfy people only when it ensured easy delivery of services to them.

Another NC lawmaker Amresh Kumar Singh said an attempt was being made to politically gerrymander the boundaries of local units. He said the commission should ensure geographical and cultural continuity of local areas.

NC lawmaker Ram Krishna Yadav said if boundaries of local bodies were gerrymandered to suit leaders’ political interest as happened during the Panchayat system, it could breed conflict in the villages and municipal areas.

CPN-Maoist Centre lawmaker Rabindra Pratap Shah said if the restructuring of the bodies was not done carefully, it could lead to unrest across the villages.

CPN-UML lawmaker Yubraj Gyawali said the commission should clearly tell the government whether or not it could submit its report in time. “If the commission cannot give its report in time, the government may opt to hold local polls under the old structure so the commission must tell the government of its decision as soon as possible,” he said.

Another UML lawmaker Ganga Lal Tuladhar said he was not confident that the commission would be able to submit its report in next eight month. “The commission must tell the government whether to hold elections under the new or old structure,” he added.

CPN-ML lawmaker Aindra Sundar Nembang said giving responsibility to local bodies to manage education up to 12th grade would not be possible.

Balanand Paudel, chief of the commission briefed the panel about the commission’s work and said he would make efforts to prepare a professional and scientific report and not buckle under pressure from anybody.

He said the government had told the commission to restructure local bodies without breaking the boundaries of wards and districts to the extent possible, but that might not be possible. “We are going to tell the government to give us some leverage on this.

There are 35 VDCs whose continuity has been broken in two to five places. Same is the case with some wards,” he said. He said the commission would have to recommend appropriate provisions so that citizens could avail services at the local level.

“Delivery of services by local bodies is linked to citizens’ fundamental rights and we need to suggest structures that could protect their rights,” he said, and added that the commission was contemplating placing the management of education up to 12th grade under the jurisdiction.