Kathmandu December 8
The federal government has taken over some development projects supposed to be under the jurisdiction of provinces.
The federal government had stated in the budget that some key development projects would be under the jurisdiction of provinces but now it has taken control of them.
The projects the federal government has taken over include: The 10 Mid-Mountain Highway Cities, 15 linkage roads of the postal highway in Tarai-Madhes, Jhamak Kumari Ghimire foundation, nine risky settlements including in Bajura and the four municipalities of Province 7 funded by the Asian Development Bank. The budget had stated that these projects would be under the provincial government’s jurisdiction. According to the Ministry of Urban Development, the provinces have expressed dissatisfaction with the federal government’s decision.
Spokesperson of the Ministry of Urban Development Krishna Prasad Dawadi told THT the Cabinet had decided to this effect on November 19 after consulting the federal finance ministry. “The federal government decided to take over these projects because provincial governments lacked skilled manpower and had failed to open offices to execute the projects,” he added. He said the other reason was involvement of foreign donors in the projects and the risk of high variation order on account of delay. “The donors had also expressed concerns regarding some projects,” Dawadi added. Dawadi said the federal government would gradually hand over these projects to the provincial governments.
The 10 Mid-Mountain Highway Cities projects include Phidim (Panchthar), Basantapur (Terhathum), Khurkot (Sindhuli), BaireniGalchhi (Dhading), Dumre (Tanahun), Burtibang (Baglung), Chaurjahari (Rukum), Raakam (Dailekh), Sanfebagar (Achham) and Patan (Baitadi).
According to urban development ministry sources, the federal government has established 10 field offices to carry out Mid-Mountain Highway projects.
The Ministry of Urban Development has already established one unit in each province and five extra units in areas where workload is higher compared to other areas.
Province 3 Finance Minister KailashDhungel said he did not have detailed information on the issue, but was of the view that provinces should have power over development projects.
The Regional Urban Development Project funded by Asian Development Bank aims to improve living standards and quality of urban services in Province 7 towns of Godawari, Bhimdatta, Dhangadi and Shuklaphanta through planning, infrastructure investments and institutional strengthening. The project will provide urban improvements in roads, drainage, wastewater management and solid waste management. The project will construct municipal offices in Godawari and Shuklaphanta.
A senior official in the urban development ministry said the federal government’s decision to take over these projects was the byproduct of a unitary mindset pervasive in the federal government. “Most officials in our ministry are not interested in delegating power
to the provinces” the official told THT.
According to officials, two senior engineers Ramita Shrestha and Rama Manandhar have also returned from the field after the federal government took over these projects. They told the ministry they had made field visits to speed up project work but could not find proper working stations.
The much awaited Inter-Provincial Council meeting is slated for tomorrow in Kathmandu.
Chief ministers are planning to raise their nine-point agenda including staff crunch, multi-fiscal projects, budget, establishment of offices and
other issues. According to a minister, the federal government will present agendas, including its ground work, and seek to know the views of the chief ministers.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s Press Adviser Kundan Aryal told THT, “The PM will get feedback from the chief ministers and instruct them.” He said the federal government had done its ground work to address the provinces’ problems and this would be presented at the meeting.
A version of this article appears in print on December 09, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.