EDITORIAL: Same attitude

If rule violators are government officials the penalties should be much greater because they are supposed to uphold the law and regulations

The laws and rules and regulations are there to be obeyed by all citizens, politicians, government officials and agencies. They are there not just to apply to the poor and the helpless, but to the rich and the powerful equally. But there is a news report saying that most government offices in Silgadi municipality in Doti district have not received the municipal approval for their building architectural design or building maps before starting the construction work but nobody has heard of any action taken against the violators by the municipality concerned. This shows an utter disregard for the building code by the government agencies, including the enforcing agency, i.e. the municipality. One example is the Rs. 20.9 million four-storey building of the District Survey Office which is under construction but does not have an approved building map. Other examples can be cited, such as the building of the District Agricultural Development Office and at least five other government buildings. Besides, of all the government offices, the District Administration Office, which is responsible for, among other things, maintaining law and order in the district, had its building constructed recently without having an approved map at a cost of Rs.52.6 million.

Doti is just an example of this widespread practice across the country. Since the major earthquake of April 25, 2015, the government has amended its building code, making it stricter in all aspects so that the new structures built across the country may not be in danger or pose any threat to human lives in the future. Since then, therefore, people who have, say just two annas of land, cannot hope to build a house in any municipality as the new land specifications for building land do not allow this. Similarly, there are other requirements to be followed, including that the owner must have a construction completion certificate from the municipality. Issuing this certificate has been a profitable business for officials too, as many people do not get this on one ground or another, unless they grease their palms well. And many have chosen not to get this instead of paying a hefty amount.

Reports of violations of the building code have been coming from one place or another without the government authorities waking up to enforce it strictly. Much more stringent building code, if not to be followed by the government agencies and those in power, will not serve its purpose but only the common man will have to go through greater hassles and the need to pay a greater amount of money under the table, to have their building maps approved so that they can start construction, as defiance would mean paying a heavier price. The above-mentioned buildings of government offices are illegal and therefore liable to all action applicable to an ordinary violator. From the point of view of justice, if the violators are government officials and agencies, the penalties should be much greater because they are supposed to uphold the law and regulations. What is particularly worrying is that this type of attitude and practice pervades all ministries, departments, and other offices. That is why the rule of law has become weaker in the country over the years. In Doti, for example, municipal officials and officials undertaking the construction without approval should be brought to book.

Huge relief

Free valve replacement surgery facilities are now to be carried out by the government hospitals where it is available to all those suffering from rheumatic heart disease. So far, two such hospitals have been providing such services to children below the age of 15 in the Kathmandu Valley. This provision is targeted particularly for youths aged between 15 and 35 years. The surgery costs from Rs. 250,000 to Rs. 300,000 in Nepal which most impoverished Nepalese find it difficult to afford. The government would be reimbursing the hospitals which carry out such services free of cost. This scheme is expected to benefit over 1,000 patients with the disease in Nepal.

The heart valve is damaged by a bacterium called streptococcus causing rheumatic fever. This is the most common heart disease amongst children and adolescents in developing countries like Nepal. Now that valve replacement surgery has been made free it comes as a huge relief for many heart patients.