EDITORIAL: Inept decision

The political parties’ decision to change the number of local units will put the constitutional body in a precarious position

The three major political parties—Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre came up with a single stance that there should be around 900 local units which shall function as local governments.

It has been 18 years since the elections of the local bodies were held, thereby, creating a void at the local-level without elected representations.

The three big parties reached an agreement to this effect on Sunday when the constitutional Local Level Reconstructing Commission (LBRC) is on the final stage of its work of restructuring the local level which will be forwarded to the government by mid-October.

The LBRC has already prepared a report that there should be 565 local bodies or local-level of governance as stated in the new constitution.

The LBRC suggested the number based on the constitutional spirit, demographic distribution, access to the services to be provided by the local government and other factors related to collection of revenues.

Major parties’ decision to have 900 local-level units is tantamount to encroachment upon the constitutional commission’s jurisdiction and terms of reference given to it when it was formed.

Commission Chief Balananda Poudel has said that the suggestions of the political parties cannot be taken as binding as the commission has already gone miles away and it is on the final stage of its report.

Poudel has said that his commission decided to create 565 local level looking at the constitutional provision in which the local governments have been given certain rights and functions.

They should have made such suggestions to the LBRC when it started its work.

The government remains committed to hold elections for three polls –local, provincial and parliamentary - before January 22, 2018. As things stand now it would not be possible to hold the polls on time given the disagreement among the major parties and the Madhes-based ones on the number of local units.

With a view to holding the election before January 22, 2018 the parties reached this agreement which does not seem to be practical and feasible.

Moreover, the LBRC is of the view that   increasing the number of local bodies will create financial and administrative burden and the local units will be able raise revenues and resources to provide basic services to the people.

The Poudel commission mooted the idea of having 565 local units considering their governability. But the parties took the local units just as the existing local bodies which do not have any major duty to function.

Under the new constitution, the local governments shall also have executive, legislature and judiciary just like in federal and provincial governments.

The major political parties decision has come at a time when the LBRC has already instructed the concerned districts to finalise the number of local units on political consensus at local level.

Thirty-three districts, including some districts in the Tarai and Madhes, have already finalised the number of local units which will function as local government with specific rights and jurisdictions. Forty-two districts are on the process of finalising the number of local units.

Amidst this backdrop, the political parties’ decision to change the number of local units will put the constitutional body in a precarious position, unable to readjust its work which is on the final stage.

Positive move

The already narrow streets in the Kathmandu Valley have been littered with construction materials such as sand, boulders, pebbles, iron rods and bricks dumped or stored by the users.

Come November 16, the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development will take action against those who store or dump those materials causing difficulty to pedestrians, traffic jam and pollution of the locality.

The Chief District Officer of the concerned district will fine of Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 50,000 or award a jail sentence of three months or both on the offender. This measure is being implemented enforcing the Solid Waste Management Act, 2011.

The local bodies have been directed to take action against the house owners and builders if they dump those materials defying the law. People continue storing those materials for months until their houses are fully built causing public inconvenience.

The storing or dumping of the construction materials also lead to fatal road accidents at night when street lights are off on busy roads.

This is a positive move and the concerned authorities should also raise public awareness through mass media.