Short of expectation

The marathon Legislature-Parliament’s sixth session popularly dubbed as the “budget session” has finally been prorogued. The session had begun on July 8 last year which incidentally came in the last week of the fiscal year 2008/2009. This meant that its foremost task from the start was to see the presentation of the budget for the fiscal year 2009/2010 and its approval. However, though the said budgetary estimates were presented five days later on July 13, it took more than four months for it to be endorsed by the House. The reigning period in between was the scene of the protest by UCPN (M) that stalled all House proceedings. The plank on which the Maoists had obstructed the functioning of the parliament related to their demand for civilian supremacy that had to do with the President’s move for reinstating the then army chief whom the then Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal had tried to sack. That had been the turning point for the Maoist-led government making way. That only went to show how party interests gained prominence over the national interests.

In all this confusion, no one stood to gain. Neither the Maoists could dent the formation of a new coalition government led by CPN (UML) Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, nor could progress be made for the timely drafting of the constitution, and the pace of the peace process suffered. All that later emerged was the phase wise protests by the UCPN (M) that could not bring any solace to the people reeling under various headings of difficulties. As for the parliament works, a total of 216 working days can be counted, though the actual functioning period comes to a mere 121 hours. This is one aspect where the people feel that they have been cheated of the taxes that they had paid only to be utilized for the remuneration and other perks that the standing lawmakers were allotted. The Maoist MPs too did not shy away from the bonanza, despite their bringing the House works to a standstill for so long. The sense of accountability that should have been uppermost was lost all for the sake of what can be called a democratic practice. The only achievement worth naming remains the passage of this fiscal year’s budget and the seventh amendment of the Interim Constitution and a few Bills passed. The waste of time apart, the people’s expectation were totally belied by the sheer indifference by the single largest party in the Constituent Assembly (CA).

What is interesting at this point of time is that the sixth House session has come to a close the same day that the task of discharging the disqualified former Maoist fighters drew to an end. That is but one task concerning the peace process that has been achieved. But, there is a long way to go concerning the integration and rehabilitation of the qualified and verified residents of the cantonments. For the moment, with the budget session ended, the government will have some peace of mind that could possibly be utilized to sort out the people’s welfare related issues that has to do with maintaining law and order, ending the sense of impunity, monitor the market and take necessary steps to check hoarding, profiteering and adulteration of edibles, among others.

Green wonders

People and nature are often regarded as the earth’s most important assets and in keeping with this a workshop was held in the capital Monday to develop Healthy Parks, Healthy People (HPHP). The idea is here to generate awareness about a healthy lifestyle and what could be more effective than building parks with the goal of promoting public health alongside nature. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is behind the drive and Nepal is expected to take up the initiative in this endeavor by adapting it into the Nepali context. This would require deliberations on how to go about it such as to identify and agree upon certain basics.

This program could work wonders for Nepal

where traditionally parks have not been allocated the due emphasis that they deserve, particularly in

the urban context. The little bit of green spaces

that remain are threatened by concrete jungles. Allocating more space for healthy green parks in the urban landscape can make its denizens healthier. Let us hope that the workshop will come up with innovative ideas for the promotion of public health and parks by understanding the links to modern living and conservation and development.