THT 10 YEARS AGO; 15 killed in Surkhet bridge collapse

Surkhet, December 25, 2007

Fifteen persons were killed, 33 injured and over 100 went missing when a suspension bridge at Suwaghat over Bheri River linking Mehelkuna and Dahachaur collapsed today.

The bridge was overcrowded with pilgrims and collapsed after pilgrims who were  heading to attend the annual poornima fair in Suwaghat were passing the bridge at around 2 pm today. “As the bridge was overcrowded with pilgrims, it collapsed,” an injured, Sher Bahadur Oli of Sahare-4, said. “I managed to survive by holding on to the ropes of the bridge,” Oli said, adding that some 2,000 persons were crossing the bridge while it collapsed. “Only human heads were seen in the Bheri River after the collapse of the bridge,” an eyewitness Bhim Bahadur Poudel said, adding that most of the missing include women, children and elderly persons. People involved in rescue and security personnel said that the number of those missing could not be confirmed, but eye witnesses said over 100 people may have gone missing.

People involved in the rescue rescued 50 persons from the river. “As a large number of people were crossing the bridge, the number of persons who fell into the river could not be confirmed,” Chandra KC of Maintada- 5 said, adding, there was no space “even for a needle” in the bridge.

Pilgrims of some 25 VDCs of eastern Surkhet attend the fair and the crowd of pilgrims have been increasing since yesterday.

Govt plans austerity measures to cut costs

Kathmandu, December 25, 2007

The government is planning cost-cutting measures to fight what economists call the ‘Dutch disease’ — an economic condition that, in its broadest sense, refers to negative consequences resulting from rising expenditure.

The austerity measures are meant to contain rise in expenditure vis-à-vis resource mobilisation, a finance ministry official said. “Official trips abroad will be cut and new land and vehicles will not be purchased,” said Budget Division chief at the ministery, Krishna Hari Baskota. “This way we could save up to Rs 3 billion without compromising on any development activity.”

The budget deficit has crossed Rs 9.80 billion, which is 30 per cent of the total revenue the government realised during the first five months of the current fiscal year. It was on a surplus of Rs 1.49 billion during the same period last year.

Economists assess that the continuation of the ballooning of budgetary deficit could result in a budget deficit of about Rs 40 billion or 5.6 per cent of the GNP. “The current situation calls for immediate measures to control rising expenditure, giving economic issues the attention they deserve,” says economist Dr Raghav Dhoj Panta.

The total budgetary expenditure rose by 46.5 per cent to Rs 44.88 billion in the past five months, out of which recurrent expenditures account for 69 per cent.