Kathmandu, February 23, 2006 A Rs 3.8 billion water and sanitation project for small towns in the country, which was previously considered a failure, has got a two-year extension after it reported some progress last year. The Small Town Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Project (STWSSSP), which is funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and handled by the Department of Water Supply and Sanitation (DWSS), was rated by the ADB as a “project at risk” a year ago. “We were given a two year extension by the ADB, as it is now quite satisfied with the progress being made. The project will now continue till 2008,” said Raj Kumar Malla, the project chief and deputy director general of DWSS, adding that the same will be formally announced by March. A project operation review mission that came to Kathmandu in August from the ADB in Manila reported that it was running smoothly. “Previously, the disbursement performance was rated at 13 per cent. However, the same has now been rated at around 101 per cent,” Malla said. The STWSSSP came into effect in January 2001 and was to be completed by June 2006.

Leaders hopeful of Nepali Congress factions’ merger
Kathmandu, February 23, 2006 Leaders of the Nepali Congress and the Nepali Congress (Democratic) today expressed their committment to realise unification of the two parties. NC leader Dr Ram Sharan Mahat said the unification process has already begun so the “necessary but lengthy process” will certainly take place but it is time consuming and needs patience from all sides. “The desire of unification has been expressed from both sides and it is a time to show commitment so that it could be turned into a process,” he said, while addressing a programme at the Reporters’ Club. He also said unification of the two parties is the need of time, a desire of all who believe in democracy. General secretary of NC-D Prakash Man Singh said unification is possible in the condition that a respectable atmosphere is provided for the NC-D leaders and workers. All active members should be recognised and unification campaign should be launched from the grass-root level. “Hand-shaking of presidents of two parties now will not signify unification of the parties. Both the parties have their own local committees, student and other sister organisations so efforts should be made to address all activists at all levels,” he said, adding that in the process of unification, activists of both sides should be positive and forget old bitterness. Follwing the meeting of CWC of NC, NC-D will also conduct its CWC meeting to concentrate on possibility of party unification, according to Shrestha. Dr Narayan Khadka of NC-D said both the parties are now eager to go for unification, as there is no reason why they should stay divided.