Nepal | May 26, 2019

EDITORIAL: Think locally

The Himalayan Times

Parliament is the final authority which will decide whether to fully or partially endorse the report of the Local Bodies Restructuring Commission

The Local Bodies Restructuring Commission (LBRC) is all set to complete its task of restructuring the local bodies, but the political parties represented in the Legislature-Parliament have expressed reservations over the number of local bodies proposed by the LBRC.

The LBRC has proposed 565 local bodies, including 212 municipalities, which is seven times less than the existing 4,900 local bodies. According to the LBRC recommendation, a Village Council can be formed with the population of 50,000 in Tarai-Madhes and Inner Tarai, 25,000 in the hills and Inner Tarai.

A municipality must have a population of at least 75,000 in Tarai-Madhes and inner Tarai and 35,000 in the hills. As for the mountain region, a Village Council and municipality must have a population of at least 15,000, and 25,000, respectively.

An urban centre can be declared a metropolis and sub-metropolis if it has a population of 300,000 and 150,000, respectively. But the criteria set by the LBRC seem to be impractical in some parts of the hilly and mountainous regions.

The commission has also assigned the concerned District Development Committees to finalise the number of local bodies and their boundaries on the basis of political consensus among the parties.

The LBRC came out with the idea of reducing the existing number of local bodies to 565 taking into account the financial burden the State is likely to bear in the federal setup.

Commission members have claimed that they suggested fewer numbers so that they can function independently and autonomously and they will also be able to raise more resources for development and services from within the local bodies if they are larger than the existing ones.

Various studies carried out in the past had also suggested slicing the number of existing local bodies without breaking the clusters of dominant communities.

Although the commission has yet to submit its report to the government, leaders of major political parties have questioned the very rationale behind the proposed number of the local bodies.

They have suggested that the number of the local bodies should be increased and the size of population for a Village Council and a Municipality must be reduced for their effective functioning.

The leaders have argued that it will be too difficult for the local bodies’ officials to provide effective services to the people if the proposed number remains unchanged. Likewise, there are still several districts not accessible by roads. Despite some reservations from the political parties the LBRC will submit its report to the government which will table it in Parliament for further deliberations.

Parliament is the final authority in this regard which will decide whether to fully or partially endorse it.

The full House can discuss the commission’s report and, if need be, refer it to the concerned parliamentary committee to fine tune on the proposed number of local bodies, their size of population and criteria for determining their boundaries.

The commission’s report must be amicably finalized at the earliest to hold the local bodies elections on time as planned by the government.

However, there is still room for making improvements on the LBRC report which aims to make them more effective.

Save the pandas

The exotic red pandas are an endangered species. Nepal happens to possess two per cent of pandas in the world, and there are believed to be approximately 300 pandas in some northern districts.

However, what is very alarming is that their habitat is being threatened and they are still being poached. It is believed that the police have seized as many as 70 red panda hides in the last four years.

The District Forest Office in Kathmandu has arrested 180 poachers and wildlife criminals in this period. Recently, the Metropolitan Police Crime Division nabbed four persons with the skins of nine red pandas.

Although the law has provisions for imprisoning such criminals from one to 10 years for poaching or trying to kill the red pandas and fining the miscreants Rs. 40,000 to Rs. 70,000 or both, this has not prevented the poachers from carrying out their heinous crime.

These hides are usually smuggled to China and Myanmar as they are believed to possess medicinal value.

They are sold for Rs. 200,000 to Rs. 600,000. That 44 red panda hides were seized in the last two years alone does not augur well for it.

A version of this article appears in print on August 15, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.

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