Wrong foot forward

Even as the government awarded license to six hydroelectricity projects with a total generating capacity of 142 MW, the big under-construction projects like the Upper Karnali and Upper Marsyangdi have been facing problems because those affiliated to UCPN (Maoist) have brought the works to a standstill. This is all the more glaring when the country is passing through a critical phase compounded by power shortages leading to a load shedding schedule of over eleven hours every day. The irrational logic supplied by the agitators are that the projects have impinged on the rights of the local people, while benefits to them are nowhere in sight. It makes a mockery of the fact that it was the Maoists themselves who had raised the bogey of the 10,000 MW dream in ten years, while the life of the government it led was uncertain. It just goes to provide evidences that there is one approach while in power, and the whole equation is maneuvered while out of power. It may be nothing more than holding hostage the developments that will provide gains to the country and the people after the gestation period is over. But, seeing the current stance of the Maoists, only retrogression is their priority, unless they get the opportunity or rather the right to lead the government, which as per the logistics is not possible at present. It is true that the UCPN (M) hold the honor of being the single largest party in the House, but instead of toeing the consensual line of dealing they want all the other parties to fall in line with their own partisan interests. This is, however, being challenged by the major coalition partners—UML and NC.

Standing at this crucial juncture, when only about three months remain for the constitution drafting task, no meeting point has emerged

despite the formation of the High Level Political Mechanism (HLPM) that was touted to be the vehicle to sort out all the contentious issues. The expectations seem to have been belied till this moment

of time, the future is also going in all probability to

be a bumpy ride. The UCPN (M) talk that they

have been very flexible, but it is mere rhetoric for while in action they have not taken the interests of the people and the country. Now, by stopping

the works on the major ongoing hydel projects

they might be flexing their muscles. It could also seemingly point to a loosening of hold by their

leadership, hints of which have been floating around for quite some time. Yet, whatever the internal politics of the UCPN (M) may be, it is proving to be a ground where foreign investors will fear to tread, thereby, hurting our own expectations.

India too is concerned with the recent developments where the Maoists have shut down the works recently on Upper Marsyangdi project which can generate some 600 MW of electricity. The whole crux of the matter is that the project has the major stake of the Indian company GMR. The huge investment that has been made in such projects is obviously worrying to the stakeholders concerned. What could be suggested to the UCPN (M) leadership is that such gimmicks can do no one any good. If there had been shortcomings, it should have come up right when the permission was on the verge of being granted.

Finally, relief?

The cabinet has okayed the bill that permits the private sector to be involved in garbage management through the setting up of garbage plants and also to penalize those obstructing garbage disposal. The capital city in particular and other big urban hubs suffer perennially from the garbage management problems as a result of which the landscape of the cities look ugly with odious stench emanating from garbage left uncollected. Because of the disruption in the collection of garbage the health of the public is at risk. Should the bill come to the enforcement level and be adhered to then we could actually see a solution to the garbage problem. Furthermore, since often politics is played over garbage the implementation aspect of the bill is important.

Meanwhile, as the public sector alone is hard put to manage the garbage on its own, the involvement of the private sector to set up garbage fuelled plants and also its management would prove effective. Besides, what is noteworthy is that the private sector has for long shown its interest to be involved in garbage management, and, therefore, the arrangements envisaged should help in this endeavor.