EDITORIAL: Manage it well

The authorities should take effective steps so that profiteering does not take place, the tickets are readily available and the people can travel comfortably

With Dashain, one of the major festivals of all Nepalis, fast approaching people would be wanting to go to their hometowns to observe the festivities. Around a million people are expected to leave the Kathmandu Valley for this festival. It is reported that more than 90 per cent of the available air tickets have already been booked. Taking into account the high demand for air tickets the airlines are pondering over closing the bookings of air tickets soon. Air tickets are expensive and unaffordable for most Nepalis but they have little choice but to opt for travelling by air. Such a situation has arisen because these days a journey by road is not safe due to landslides and floods even on major highways which will take time to repair.

There has been a delay in the repair and reconstruction of roads which has led to this plight. The blame game as to who is responsible for this is going on with the government blaming the contractors and the contractors citing problems in the construction and repairing of the highways. But these are feeble excuses. Despite the ample time given the concerned have not been able to make the roads travel-worthy. No wonder this year many of the Dashain revelers have opted to switch to travelling by air which is relatively safer but exorbitantly expensive. The Airline Operators Association of Nepal has said that the demand for air tickets during Dashain has seen a steep rise this year due to the obstruction of roads. Meanwhile, it is also alleged that Nepalis are being refused air tickets because they are more expensive for foreigners; thus this matter also should be looked into and there should be no discrimination while booking the air tickets. The airlines would be increasing the number of flights for the festival so that more people can benefit from their services and they can reap maximum profit.  In particular the number of flights to popular destinations like Biratnagar and Bharatpur would be increased as per demand. However, some airlines claim that though the demand for air tickets has been going up the majority of air tickets are yet to be booked. Private airlines operators have asked the government for fuel refilling facilities in all the airports of the country during the peak season. Space worth five to six seats in an aircraft is used to carry fuel as they are unable to refill them in some airports.

The booking of bus tickets is also being delayed with the transporters coming up with various demands. Due to this most of the buses carry more passengers than there are supposed to in a safe manner. The transporters are also demanding more fare and taking advantage of the situation for making more money at the cost of the hapless passengers who are compelled to travel by road. That the hoarding of air and bus tickets is taking place is already apparent. Therefore, the authorities should take effective steps so that profiteering does not take place and the tickets are readily available and the people can travel safely and comfortably. But the way things are it looks like it would be an ordeal for most of the travelers wanting to celebrate Dashain at home.

Forest farming

The Forest Farm Facility Project (FFFP) launched by the government in five districts has been helping rural men and women become self-reliant. Local farmers and stakeholders who shared their experiences at a workshop said that they had been growing over 50 kinds of vegetables and forest products from the community forests and they are also helping to preserve the natural environment of the forests. FFFP has been implemented in five districts namely Kavre, Nawalparasi, Tanahun, Makwanpur and Chitwan. This programme is greatly beneficial to those communities living close to the community forests.

Local communities can reap benefits from the forest products and uplift their condition of living. Women can earn money by preparing leaf plates and bio-bricks and dead leaves can also be used as fertilizer for increasing agricultural productivity. But the project should also help the farmers find sustainable markets so that they can sell their products easily. The farmers can also be trained in farming high-earning herbal plants in the community forestry where there is huge potential of commercial farming. Technical know-how and financial support are the two essential aspects that make the farmers self-reliant and help them earn a decent living.