Double jeopardy

As the UCPN-Maoists continue their political campaign to oust the present government

and have a greater say in the political process,

development projects have also come under

threat. The Maoists announced on Monday that

they are obstructing development of the Upper

Karnali Hydro electric project, the first ever

project awarded to an international consortium

on a Build, Own, Operate and Transfer (BOOT)

basis. The Maoists claim that the project is

not in Nepal’s interest. The Maoist announcement

is unfortunate and comes as no surprise. Since

the beginning of the People’s War in 1996, the Maoists have been selectively targeting government development programs, private companies and INGOs in Nepal. Their policies and tactics, in the last decade, have severely disrupted the law and order situation as well as the socio-economic development climate in the country.

As it is, Nepal is trapped in a vicious cycle of

poor investment climate and energy crisis. The Maoists have been one of the primary causes.

Good investment climate is required to boost

economic growth. However, poor energy supply in Nepal has remained one of the stumbling blocks. Studies in Nepal show that the cost of electricity outages is more than Rs. 100 million a day. For many industries, the loss due to the opportunity cost is higher. During the Ninth Five Year Plan, the government planned to add 293 MW of electricity, and was able to add 268 MW. The target for the Tenth Plan (2002-7) was 314 MW, but the government was able to add only 40 MW. The plan failed to meet the target primarily because of the Maoist People’s War, which created political instability and led to severe deterioration of law and order situation. The investment climate in the country has not improved since then. Maoist strong arming tactics have not only dissuaded international investment but also discouraged national industrialists from investing in business ventures.

Unfortunately, socio-economic development

has not remained a top priority for most of the

political parties. Since the 12-point agreement in

November 2005, political parties have spent a

considerable amount of time and energy

negotiating political settlements. They have not, however, spent a commensurate amount of time

and energy forging consensus on development

priorities. The result is that while political goals

continue to be postponed, delivery of peace

dividend to the people has remained insignificant. While prosperity, democratic rights and recognition have remained top priorities for the people,

the government has failed to protect the people from actors using violence to promote their partisan

political agenda. The government must deliver

good governance to the people even as it seeks to guide political process that will deliver results in the future. As of now, in the absence of sensible politics, and rampant impunity, both the present and the future are in jeopardy.

Growing menance

The efforts to curb the use of and dealing of

drugs have proved to be ineffective.

Almost everyday there are reports of drug traffickers being arrested. This is an indication that even

more drugs are being trafficked and peddled

that manage to escape the vigil of the law. Drug

abuse and peddling is flourishing particularly in

the urban areas. Hundreds of youths are

arrested everyday for abusing drugs and peddling them in a clandestine manner. In fact, Kathmandu appears to be a hub for drug users and traffickers as many of those arrested include foreigners. Since most of those who are into drugs are youths, the country stands a lot to lose for this is the most productive segment of society.

Drug abuse in the country is nothing new and has been an acute problem for decades. The drug users are found smoking or injecting drugs. The time now is to deal with this problem firmly by rehabilitating drug abusers and also taking tough measures against drug trafficking and peddling. It goes without saying that the strongest possible punishment should be meted out to those engaged in such nefarious activities and also in enticing innocent young people to fall prey to drug abuse.