There seems to be an unhealthy competition among ministers to unveil their plans without homework and adequate consultation
Minister for Home Affairs Ram Bahadur Thapa on Monday unveiled his 82-point Home Administration Reform Work Plan even as the Federal Police Act (FPA) and a Bill to Replace the Local Administration are yet to be drafted. All provincial assemblies will be in a position to pass the Provincial Police Act (PPA) only after the federal parliament passes the FPA. The PPA must be adopted by the provinces in a manner it does not contradict with the FPA. According to the Home Ministry’s plan, it will take at least three months to one year depending upon the time available for the Ministry of Law and Finance and Parliament. However, the provincial governments have already started facing legal problems as to who – Ministry Home Affairs at the centre or the Ministry of Internal Affairs at provinces – will handle the district administration which oversees security issues.
The federal government has told the concerned Chief District Officers to work under the existing law and remain accountable to the Ministry of Home Affairs until the Local Administration Law and PPA come into force. But the Internal Affairs Ministries in all the provinces have said they cannot issue any order to the local administration on matters related to law and security. It is, therefore, imperative that the federal parliament passes these two crucial Bills on a priority basis to make the provincial governments fully operational and accountable. However, the home minister, it seems, has come up with the routine plan of action without paying attention to these important issues. He has talked about making reforms in policies, organisational reforms and transformation and management of human resources, among others. By unveiling the plan, it seems, he has put the cart before the horse.
How can the home minister come up with the reforms plans beforehand when Parliament has yet to pass the Acts governing Nepal Police and the local administration in line with the federal structure? These two issues are so important that they need comprehensive debates among all stakeholders. He should have focused more on making laws giving more teeth to the provincial governments which have now remained idle for want of required laws. On the other hand, there has been an unhealthy competition among the ministers to unveil their plans one after another without consulting the prime minister and the Council of Ministers. The ministers must work in close consultation with the prime minister. The major task of all ministries is not to compete with each another but to facilitate concerned authorities to draft new Bills which will help strengthen the federal system. All the ministries must coordinate with the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary affairs to draft as many as 41 Bills that are essential to make provincial governments strong. As of now, only six Bills are ready for tabling in Parliament. The sooner these Bills are passed by Parliament, the better the provincial governments will function. Bureaucracy should also be roped in to draft the required Bills at the earliest. The Law Ministry and the Office of the Attorney General have also asked all the ministries to draft Bills at the earliest so that they can be tabled in Parliament for discussions.
People’s safety first
Locals from Malakheti of Godawari Municipality-3 in Kailali have launched a protest demanding that a gas factory, which is too close to a school and human settlement, be shifted elsewhere. According to locals, they were tricked into believing that a medical college was being built where there is Radiant Gas Industry now. Their demand of shifting the gas industry is justifiable. Two people had died in a recent incident of fire at Super Gas Udhyog in Birgunj, which also was quite close to a human settlement. According to Malakheti locals, Radiant Gas Industry is just 50 metres from a school and human settlement.
The gas industry, locals say, belongs to Bahawana Medical College and that they had given the land to establish a medical school. Diwan Chand, managing director of Radiant Gas Industry, however, claimed that the factory was established after fulfilling the criteria. The authorities need to look into the matter and address the concerns of locals as well as the industry. People’s safety is a must. While industries should be promoted, people’s safety also needs to be ensured. Gas industries too close to settlements and schools can be a recipe for disaster.
A version of this article appears in print on April 04, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.