Nepal Today

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Kathmandu, 29 Oct. Fourteenth round voting in parliament for prime minister to succeed Caretaker Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal will be held later Friday.
NC Vice-president Ram Chandra Paudel is the only candidate in the race after Maoist Chairman Prachanda withdrew from the contest,
The vote will again be inconclusive as Maoists and UML, the biggest and third largest parties in parliament respectively, won’t participate in the contest.
Altogether 301 votes are required for victory.
NC first central working committee following the 12th general convention Thursday decided Paudel won’t withdraw from the contest until there’s a package agreement to draft a constitution and conclude the extended peace process.
NC renewed demands for return of seized assets and disbandment of YCL after it was defeated as the largest party in constituent assembly elections 2008 by Maoists.
They were-preconditions abandoned under intense international pressure to go for the vote from the international community by NC for the vote hoping the extreme communist would be defeated after emerging from the Indian urban jungle and Nepal’s forests following a 10-year people’s war..


Kathmandu, 29 Oct. A high-powered seven-member task force led by Maoist Chairman Prachanda to suggest ways to speed up the delayed drafting of a constitution to institutionalize a declared republic began meeting Friday morning.
The meting will suggest recommendations to constituent assembly Chairman Subash Nemwang.
The meeting started after a summit of the Big Three parties.
Major parties differ on at last 230 points to be incorporated in a proposed constitution.


Kathmandu, 29 Oct.: President Dr Ram Baran Yadav arrives in Shanghai Friday from Xian on the third day of his week-long China visit.
He’s attending the closing ceremony of the Shanghai Expo in Shanghai.
The president is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the Expo.


Kathmandu, 29 Oct.: Three persons were killed and five were injured when a trolley fell off a road at Bulung in Dolakha Thursday.
The trolley with passengers got detached from the tractor and hurled off the road.


Kathmandu, 29 Oct.: International Court of Jurists (ICJ) Thursday protested the two-year extension of Col. Raju Basnet by the cabinet.
He has been accused for alleged rights violation during the 10-year Maoist insurgency.
The colonel’s brother, another senior army officer, was shot dead by Maoists at his home in the capital during the conflict.


Kathmandu, 29 Oct.: Friday’s UML standing committee meeting has been rescheduled.
The committee will now meet Sunday.
The party is divided on whether the caretaker government headed by the party can present a full budget in parliament.


Kathmandu, 29 Oct. Hotelier Gobinda Das Shrestha has been unanimously elected dean of Honourary Consular Corps Nepal.
Ambica Shrestha, Binaya Man Shrestha, Rajendra Khetan and Lisa Cheogyal have been nominated executive committee members.

Kathmandu, 29 Oct.: 29: In apparent manifestation of brewing conflict among the top party leadership, the UCPN (Maoist) Kochila State Committee has barred party Vice-chairman Dr Baburam Bhattarai from holding meetings with party cadres in its area, Ajit Tiwari reports in Republica from Biratnagar..

Kochila State Committee In-charge Haribol Gajurel issued verbal directives to party cadres not to hold a meeting on Thursday shortly after party leaders and cadres under the state committee were asked to attend a Jaycees function on Saturday at Tankisinuwari, Morang.

The move comes after Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Vice-chairman Mohan Baidya objected to such meetings, saying Dr Bhattarai was trying to solicit support to consolidate his ´hold´ at the party plenum. Leaders close to the two senior leaders said party leaders cannot hold meetings on individual basis.

Chairman Dahal and Vice-chairmen Bhattarai and Baidya presented three separate political papers on the party´s future course, at the central committee meeting in August. As unanimity on any of the papers was elusive, the central committee decided to table three papers at the plenum to finalize the party´s course.

According to a source, Gajurel came to Biratnagar on Tuesday to thwart the scheduled gathering. “He returned after directing party leaders and cadres under Kochila State Committee not to attend the function,” added the source.

The source said Gajurel verbally directed party leaders and cadres to attend only functions at which all three leaders are present. Sources added that party leaders and cadres present at functions addressed by Dr Bhattarai alone have been threatened disciplinary action.

Dr Bhattarai is currently visiting various parts of the country to meet cadres and garner support for his political paper.

“I heard that Dr Bhattarai is visiting Biratnagar. But Dr Bhattarai himself has not said anything about it,” Gajurel said by phone from Kathmandu.

Gajurel said though it is natural to have a simple meeting, it is not good to call meetings of party cadres
to lobby them on the eve of the party plenum.

A senior Maoist leader in Kochila, seeking anonymity, said the meeting was called to make Bhattarai´s views clear to party leaders and cadres. “Dr Bhattarai plans to solicit support from cadres not in his favor by elucidating his views on the current political situation,” added the leader. “Fear has gripped Dahal and Baidya that their supporters could join Dr Bhattarai´s fold.”

However, Co-incharge of Maoist Kochila State Committee Ganga Shrestha said the scheduled meeting will take place at any cost. He said Dr Bhattarai will make clear the current political situation and his line. “I have arranged the meeting as Dr Bhattarai wants to meeting party cadres here,” said Shrestha.

Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, widely regarded as close to Bhattarai, said party policy prohibits central-level leaders from participating in debates on political papers with intent to influence such debate.

According to the policy endorsed by the central committee, a central-level leader is required to obtain party clearance if s/he wishes to participate in such debates.
The objective of the policy is to ensure decency in such debates and encourage independent analysis of the papers [by cadres],” Rayamajhi told Republica. “The policy is not targeted against any particular leader, it applies to all.”

However, no one can restrict the movement of leaders at local level. “Nobody has power to prevent Prachanda [Dahal], Kiran [Baidya] and Baburam from meeting cadres.”


Kathmandu, 29 Oct.: The Office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers (OPMCM) has rejected reimbursement claims made by seven government ministers for travel undertaken during the Dashain holidays, on the ground that such claims violate standard norms.

Citing that no ministers or other government officials are supposed to make official trips during the Dashain holidays, OPMCM rejected the travel documents submitted by the ministers seeking approval for initiating reimbursement procedures.

As per regulations issued by OPMCM, ministers´ travel claims are reimbursed only after approval of their travel documents. OPMCM rejected the travel documents submitted by the ministers, saying the government does not bear expenses incurred during public holidays including Dashain.

"Dashain holidays are public holidays. Neither ministers nor other government officials are supposed to make any official trips during such holidays that place a financial burden on state coffers," said an official at OPMCM on condition of anonymity.

Most of the ministers who sought approval for their travel documents claimed that they were attending various programs in their respective districts even during Dashain.

Republica has learnt that Minister without Portfolio Laxman Lal Karna, Minister for Youth and Sports Ganesh Tiwari Nepali, and Minister for Federal, Constituent Assembly and Parliamentary Affairs and Culture Minendra Rijal submitted travel documents at OPMCM claiming that they made their trips even during the Dashain holidays.

Similarly, State Minister for General Administration Jeet Bahadur Darjee Gautam, State Minister for Energy Chandra Singh Bhattarai, State Minister for Industry Dan Bahadur Kurmi Chaudhari and State Minister for Commerce and Supplies Saroj Kumar Yadav sought approval for domestic trips of a personal nature made during Dashain.

The ministers seeking approval for their travel documents, however, said they havd no ill intention in submitting such documents.

“It was my duty to inform OPMCM about my travel plans during Dashain. I had no ill intention in seeking approval for my travel documents. It is up to OPMCM whether or not to reimburse my bills,” said State Minister Gautam.

Government officials, however, termed the minister´s attempt a “misuse of power.”
Seeking approval for travel documents means seeking reimbursement of bills incurred during travel. This is nothing but an example of how our government ministers have long been misusing their power,” the source added.

Following reports of irregularities, OPMCM only recently asked ministers to furnish evidence of their domestic and foreign travel to claim reimbursement of expenses.

In a letter dispatched by OPMCM, the ministers have already been informed that the finance section at OPMCM will not reimburse expenses if they fail to show evidence where, when and why they made such trips.


Kathmandu, 29 Oct.: U.N. investigators took samples of foul-smelling waste trickling behind a Nepali peacekeeping base toward an infected river system on Wednesday, following persistent accusations that excrement from the newly arrived unit caused the cholera epidemic that has sickened more than 4,000 people in the earthquake-ravaged nation, AP reports from Mirebalais, Haiti..

Associated Press journalists who were visiting the base unannounced happened upon the investigators. Mission spokesman Vincenzo Pugliese confirmed after the visit that the military team was testing for cholera — the first public acknowledgment that the 12,000-member force is directly investigating allegations its base played a role in the outbreak.

Meanwhile, the epidemic continued to spread, with cases confirmed in two new departments in Haiti’s north and northeast, said U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs spokeswoman Imogen Wall. At least 303 people have died and 4,722 been hospitalised.

Haitians are increasingly turning their attention to its origins: How did a disease which has not been seen in Haiti since the early 20th century suddenly erupt in the countryside?

The mission strongly denies its base was a cause of the infection.

Local politicians including a powerful senator and the mayor of Mirebalais are pointing the finger at the Nepali peacekeeping base, which is perched above a source of the Meille River, a tributary to the Artibonite River on Haiti’s central plateau.

The Artibonite River has been the source of most infections mostly down river from the mouth of the Meille.

“They are located exactly where the sickness started,” Mirebalais Mayor Laguerre Lochard, who is also running for Senate, told the AP. Area residents are also blaming the base; a young man walked by its gate laughing and chanting, “Co-co-cholera. Cholera MINUSTAH” — referring to the peacekeeping mission by its French initials.

Cholera is almost unheard of in the Western Hemisphere. It is endemic to Nepal. A recent article in the Japanese Journal of Infectious Diseases about outbreaks in 2008-09 said the strain found by researchers was “Vibrio cholerae O1 Ogawa biotype El Tor.” That is the same strain that has been identified in Haiti, epidemiologist Eric Mintz told the AP. But he cautioned that strain is common and description too general to be a “smoking gun” that would identify the strain’s country of origin.

In a statement UN said on Tuesday that the Nepali unit there uses seven sealed septic tanks built to US Environmental Protection Agency standards, emptied every week by a private company to a landfill site a safe 820 feet from the river.

But those are not the conditions AP found on Wednesday.

A buried septic tank inside the fence was overflowing and the stench of excrement wafted in the air. Broken pipes jutting out from the back spewed liquid.

One, positioned directly behind latrines, poured out a reeking black flow from frayed plastic pipe which dribbled down to the river where people were bathing.

The landfill sites are a series of open pits uphill from family homes. Ducks swim and pigs wallow in pools of runoff.

Lochard said that he had told Nepali officers not to place the landfill sites in that location but never received feedback from peacekeeping headquarters in Port-au-Prince.


Kathmandu, 29 Oct.: First, it was a re-branding exercise, then the launch of the BlackBerry, the start of the 3G and data services and now a 3G base station at the highest point on Earth, Ncell is on the roll.

On Thursday, Ncell, the country’s first private GSM operator, announced that it would be spending US $ 100 million (Rs 7.15 billion) in 2011.

Through aggressive marketing promotion and innovative service, Ncell is now aiming to become the No. 1 player in GSM mobile telephony in Nepal. This was spelled out loud and clear at a press meet on Thursday organised to mark the setting up of the 3G base station in the Everest Region. Lars Nyberg, the CEO and President of TeliaSonera, said the company wants to become a leading operator in each market it has its presence.

Nepal’s first private GSM operator, Ncell is fastly reducing the gap between it and the market leader Nepal Telecom. “We will be a market leader by early next year,” said Tero Kivisaari, the CEO of the Eurasia Region that looks after the Nepal market. Nepal Telecom’s GSM mobile subscriber base is 4.01 million by the end of mid-August.

TeliaSonera that took a controlling stake in Spice Nepal Private Limited/Ncell in 2008 has already spent US $ 300 million for network expansion. And, they have valid reasons to spend in Nepal. Nepal is one of the countries in TeliaSonera’s Eurasia region which is growing very strongly.

According to TeliaSonera’s Interim Report (January-September 2010), in the Eurasia region, growth was the strongest in Nepal and Kazakhstan with a rise of 1.6 million and 1.3 million subscriptions to 3.4 million and 8.4 million, respectively. Nepal has recorded the highest growth in the region with a subscriber base increasing by 0.7 million in third quarters. “The strong growth trend is a result of a successful launch of a new tariff plan with the same price to all networks and the improved customer perception of Ncell since the successful rebranding,” the report says.

The last two years has been remarkable for TeliaSonera and Ncell in Nepal. Not only it increased its subscriber base from 1.5 million to 3.7 million, but it also launched various services, both- premium and mass based. This year, while on the one hand it launched the luxurious BlackBerry handsets for the corporate world, it introduced the cheapest handsets at Rs 999 for the rural Nepal on the other.

Witnessing the growing market potential in data service like in other parts of the world, Ncell had launched the 3G service in mid-September and Ncell Connect, one of the fastest data services on September 30.

TeliaSonera, according to Nyberg, had decided to increase investment in Nepal in voice and data service. The fact that Ncell has been adding an average of 200,000 subscribers every month justifies its decision to come to Nepal. Nyberg’s third visit to Nepal in the last 18 months shows Nepal is on TeliaSonera’s high priority list.

For 2011, Ncell has big plans. It wants to increase its penetration to 90 percent from the existing 75 percent. The company is spending US $ 100 million for that. “We’ll spend US $ 100 million for the network expansion,” said Nyberg. “Next year, we will be adding 500 base tower stations in Nepal.” As of now, it has over 1000 such stations across the country.

At a time when foreign companies are thinking twice to come to Nepal, TeliaSonera is increasing its investment in Nepal. Upendra Mahato, a local partner of Ncell, said investment by TeliaSonera in the telecom sector in Nepal clearly shows Nepal is safe for foreign investment. “TeliaSonera is a good example of this,” he said.


Kathmandu, 29 Oct.: In view of not-so-sweet-smelling sanitation scenario, the government is making preparations to launch yet another five-year plan to clean up parts of the country, a worthy addition to a long list of such plans, The Himalayan Times reports.

The Ministry of Physical Planning and Works (MoPPW) said the upcoming five-year plan is meant to restrict open defecation in 200 village development committees and five municipalities of the country, which has 75 districts, 3,915 village development committees and 58 municipalities.

Funding need not be a problem as United Nations Office for Project Support (UNOPS) and Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) have set up Global Sanitation Fund (GSF), which will provide $5 million to raise awareness on the importance of sanitation and support the ultra poor families for sanitation.

A government report states that although 1.48 lakh toilets are constructed in the country annually, only 10 per cent of the poor have access to toilets.

Moreover, 13,000 children under the age of five die annually because of waterborne diseases like diarrhoea, cholera, which result due to poor sanitation and hygiene.

The project is the first of its kind in the nation, said Raj Kumar Malla, coordinator of National Coordinating Body comprising representatives from the Ministries of Health, Local Development and Education, donors, government departments, civil society and I/NGOs.

“On the basis of ecological region and geographical structure, including Tarai, hilly and mountainous zones, we will select the DDCs, VDCs and municipals to execute the programme,” he said.

GSF has recently started working globally launching projects in more than half-a-dozen countries in Asia and Africa.

Nepal and India are the first countries in South Asia to implement this programme. “The project will begin this fiscal,” said Malla, who is also a joint secretary at the MoPPW.

Regarding the project’s operation, UN Habitat has already signed a deal with UNOPS, said Krishna Prasad Acharya, joint secretary at the MoPPW.

In Nepal, only 45 percent of the total population of about 26 million have access to toilets.

There is a wide gap between urban and rural areas where there is low priority and inadequate resources for sanitation and hygiene with a report claiming that 54 per cent of the population still defecates out in the open.

Different reports disclose that 46.3 per cent of the urban households are without basic facilities of safely supplied drinking water and 45.6 per cent are without sanitary system.

Hardly one fourth of the households in the mid-western region have toilets, a report of the regional monitoring and supervision office under the Department of Water Supply

and Sewerage reveals, pointing out the lack of toilet

facilities as the main reason behind frequent epidemic outbreaks.


Kathmandu, 29 Oct.: After President Sushil Koirala, Sher Bahadur Deuba and Ram Chandra Paudel second and third leaders in protocol ranking in the NC following the 12th party general convention, Nagarik reports.
Seats for officials and central committee members at the meeting hall of the party headquarters have been placed according to protocol ranking.
The central working committee met Thursday for the first time after the convention.


Kathmandu, 29 Oct.: MJFL is on the verge of splitting, Naya Patrika reports,
Some lawmakers and office bearers are forming a new party.
Physical Planning Minister of State and central member Saanjaya Shah, Pramod Gupta, Karima Begum, Ramananda Mandal, Kaushal Yadav, Om Prakash Yadav are considering opening a new party.
“If such behaviour of the chairman continues, we can’t stick with him. That’s why it’s our compulsion to open a new party,” central member Sanjaya Shah told Naya Patrika.” Now we’ll move ahead in an organized manner. We’ll push Madesh issues.”

Kathmandu, 28 Oct. Police Thursday recovered 77 packets of
brown sugar concealed under a bra.
Two women on a scooter have been arrested from Symbhunath.
This is the first time brown sugar concealed under a bra was recovered in the capital.
The drug was smuggled in from Raxaul, Annapurna Post reports.


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