EDITORIAL: Only way out

The local level elections and the constitutional amendment bill should not be made dependent on each other; they are quite separate issues

The political deadlock continues over the constitution amendment bill between the ruling and opposition sides. But one ray of hope appears in the reported agreement between them to announce the civic polls this week and speed up the passage of the election-related bills through the Legislature-Parliament.

But this kind of news has appeared in the print and electronic media some time without any solid move ahead being seen. The public does not seem to believe that the parties will resolutely move ahead to hold the polls at least until the announcement of the date for the elections for the Local Level Government under the new Constitution.

Local Government consists of elected Legislature and Executive, as well as the Judiciary at the local level, apart from those at the Pradesh Level and Federal or Central Level, as the Constitution envisages three tiers of government – federal, provincial and local – which have their responsibilities specified in the Constitution itself. The Constitution has envisaged the Local Government as one of the most powerful local governments to promote a vibrant grassroots democracy.

Unfortunately, the government does not seem to be taking the responsibility of announcing the local level elections seriously enough. Only one year remains to meet the constitutional obligation of holding the elections of all levels to implement the constitution.

Otherwise, there would a constitutional vacuum and political uncertainty for the nation. There is no more time available to waste on whether to hold or when to hold the local level elections. It is the duty of the government to announce the polls and support the Election Commission by all means to conduct the elections.

Some political leaders or parties are reasoning that things should become more favourable or some kind of agreement has to be reached with the disgruntled groups before elections can be held. If the government or the parties or leaders in government are saying this, they do not deserve to be in the government, or if anybody in the opposition is saying this they cannot deserve to be in the opposition or in the government.

If the State is so weak, the future of the nation itself is in peril.

Now that the country has already adopted federalism and the Constitution is already in force, the local level elections must be conducted as per the report of the Local Bodies Restructuring Commission (LBRC) which was received by the minister concerned recently, but it has not yet been tabled at any Cabinet meeting for its endorsement, which is necessary to set the ball of local level elections rolling.

The LBRC has revised its earlier report at the government’s request by increasing the number of local bodies by about fifty per cent. Without the lower level elections, the federal parliament cannot be constituted. The local level elections and the constitutional amendment bill should not be made dependent on each other; they are quite separate issues.

Whether the constitution amendment goes through or not, the elections have to be held and the constitution implemented despite all the opposition of the disgruntled groups that may come in the way. There is no alternative.

Fire disasters

Incidence of fire is one of the major causes of disaster in the country killing many people as well as destroying property worth billions of rupees every year. In Nepal it is estimated that about 75 per cent of incidence of fire occurs in the capital city alone.

According to the Metropolitan Police and the Judhha Barun Yantra, the fire brigade receive on an average two calls about the incidence of fire every day. Most of the small fires are put out by the local people without the assistance of the police and fire brigade.

However, we should be exercising extra caution for the capital city is not equipped with the fire fighting engines and adequate trained fire fighters.

If this is the state of the capital one can imagine what situation is like in the rest of the country should major fires occur. Although many fire fighting engines have been provided by donors most of them are not well maintained. Besides importing more such engines we need to train and employ more fire fighters.

As many fires occur in places where fire engines cannot easily approach as the roads are too small for these the authorities should be doing the needful to deal with them too.