EDITORIAL: Urban planning

The newly elected representatives at the local level will face daunting challenges as they have been given a lot of power and responsibilities with limited resources

Physical infrastructure, environment, economy, investment, health care and education are the key conditions for urban development.

The National Urban Development Strategy (NUDS), 2017 has put these issues as preconditions for any area to be developed as an urban centre. The urban area is also a political, social and cultural centre where people have an opportunity to interact with one another.

The strategy has perspective on transportation, land use, regional planning and development of related institutional mechanism, provision of balanced urban road infrastructure and sustainable public transport.

Another feature of the urban strategy is the provision of affordable, adequate and safe housing along with adequate public toilets. The private sector can also be included in providing affordable housing to the economically weaker section of society.

Such a strategy, if well implemented, will discourage squatter settlements and encroachment of public land. The weaker section of society can be engaged in collective production sector if it is settled in a cooperative manner.

Other key issues of urban development include the provision of adequate, reliable, efficient green energy from renewable sources of energy such as solar or wind-powered or thermal plants.

An urban centre must focus on urban agriculture, urban forestry and maintain enough open spaces which can be used as temporary shelters in case of emergencies.

Preservation of local heritages, art and architecture and culture with ties of local income activities are other objectives of the urban development plans all municipalities must follow.

The NUDS has also proposed developing community and civil society facilities where people can discuss their common concerns and draw attention of the local authorities to resolve the identified problems.

The strategy can be a guidebook for all municipalities, especially the new ones which have little infrastructure.

The newly elected representatives at the local level will have to face daunting challenges first hand as they have been given a lot of power and responsibilities with limited resources.

First of all, the elected representatives are required to know about the rights they have been given by the constitution and the means to achieve the goal of local level development.

The very concept of the local level is to provide basic government services from their doorsteps. Basic health care and minimum level of educational facilities, drinking water supply, well-facilitated public transport service, enough supply of electricity and work opportunity in the nearest area from their homes are some of the basic needs that must be available at the local level.

In addition, elected representatives in all the municipalities must broaden their horizons to make their cities smart.

All municipalities must have a provision for a museum, an e-library, gardens, green open spaces for children, youth and elderly people, stadium, recreation facilities and fully-functional and affordable health care centres.

Any specific municipality can be encouraged to develop itself as a centre for a specific production or manufacturing unit so that it can generate enough revenue for its growth and gain expertise.

Suicide on the rise

Suicide cases have been found to be gradually increasing over the years, according to the crime statistics of the Nepal Police, and there are no signs that these will decrease in the near future.

The figures for suicides are more than double the fatalities due to traffic accidents. About 13 persons resorted to suicide every day in 2015-16, and the total suicide cases were 4,667.

Most of the people killed themselves by hanging followed by poisoning, jumping off cliffs and buildings, electrocution and drowning. A matter of immense concern is that many of the victims are minors.

This is indeed very tragic and suicide has become a pressing problem that impacts not only individuals but also their families and society.

High risk groups constitute youths, divorced and single men and women, police and army personnel, housewives and victims of sexual abuse, among others.

To prevent suicide there should be more trained mental health specialists who are able to treat and counsel those with mental ailments who are mostly likely to commit suicide.