Nepal Today

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Indian minister inspects Kosi barrage

Kathmandu, 26 July: Indian Minister of State for Water resources Vincent H. Pala Sunday inspected the Kosi barrage on the Nepal-border along the state of Bihar for 30 minutes Sunday.
The minister inspected the barrage after record water levels were recorded in the Saptakosi during the current monsoon season that has left behind a trail of death and destruction.
India is responsible for the barrage maintenance.
Last year the river burst embankments causing untold sorrow and destruction in east Nepal and Bihar.

Govt. likely to lift travel ban to Iraq

Kathmandu, 26 July: The July 20 notice of the US Contracting Command in Iraq, which requires all illegal Nepali workers to leave the country by August 9, has led Nepal policy makers mull whether to lift the seven-year ban on export of Nepali workers to the war-raved West Asian country, Republica reports.
Policy makers at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (M0FA) and Ministry of Labour and Transport ( MoLTA) have started groundwork to that end from Friday, expecting that lifting the ban may impress the UN contracting command to consider the case of an estimated over 30,000 illegal Nepali workers.
Following the notice of the command, the Ministry of Foreign Affaris has consulted the missions in Pakistan, UAE, Qatar, India and USA on the issue and has suggested the MoLT is writing to review the ban.
‘MoFA has asked us in writing to lift the ban, arguing that the context when the ban was imposed has changed,” said a senior official of the MoLTM on condition of anonymity.

MRP baby may end up stillborn
KATHMANDU, July:26 -
The government’s blow hot, blow cold attitude towards adopting Machine Readable Passports (MRPs) is a political leadership failure, and it is certain to put the livelihood aspirations of thousands of blue-collar job seekers in jeopardy, The Kathmandu Post reports.

ICAO’s new deadline for international travellers for MRP is Jan. 1, 2011.

The MRP stalemate is likely to drag on in the wake of Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala insistence on “personally” probing her ministry’s decision to award the contract to the French firm, Oberthur Technologies.

“We have not taken up the issue with our higher political authority,” conceded UCPN (Maoist) lawmaker and member of the Public Accounts Committee Keshav Nepal. Other parties, including the Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN (UML), are apathetic too, say the parties’ own lawmakers.

Former Foreign Minister and member PAC, Dr Prakash Chandra Lohani termed that it was a bureaucratic affair which became a victim of “political anarchy.”

There are three schools of thought inside the PAC. The Maoists, CPN (UML), and the majority of Nepali Congress lawmakers want to go with the

Foreign Ministry decision, which they say has followed rules put in place by the Public Procurement Act.

Former Ambassador Dr Bhekh Bahadur Thapa said that issue was being unnecessarily hyped up. “It is a bureaucratic matter,” he said.

“We are not for any vested interest. We only gave the jurisdiction to see whether the ministry completed procedures,” Dhan Raj Gurung, another PAC member from NC said.

“We don’t have jurisdiction beyond assessing the merit of the deal. Some technical questions were raised which are beyond our capability to judge. The people should not suffer,” Dip Kumar Upadhyay of NC said.

However, another PAC member Anil Kumar Jha claimed that there was foul play in awarding the contract and that it should be investigated. “Both the foreign ministry officials and the rival firms of Oberthur should pay the penalty if the allegations of both are disproved.”

The meeting of PAC has been postponed till further notice. Some lawmakers are demanding that Sujata and the foreign ministry secretary should be summoned to clarify about the deal and explain why contradictory statements are making headlines.


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