Nepal Today

Thursday, December 29, 2011

HEATED DEBATE CONTNES AT MAOIST CENTRAL COMMITTEE

HEATED DEBATE CONTINUES AT MAOIST CENTRAL COMMITTEE

Kathmandu, 30 Dec.: Politburo members of the UCPN (Maoist) are expressing their views Friday on the second day of detailed discussions on two rival political papers of Chairman Prachanda and First Vice-chairman Mohan Baidya.
Standing committee members presented their views Thursday on the first day of detailed discussion
The debate is heated.
Baidya has charged the party chief for abandoning the communist revolution for completing the delayed peace and constitution drafting processes while pushing for continued people’s revolt.
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UML STANDING COMMITTEE MEET BEGINS

Kathmandu, 30 Dec.: A meeting of the standing committee of the opposition UML began Friday.
The party is discussing a unity proposal of Chairman Jhalanath Khanal.
The party is divided mainly between rival camps loyal to Khanal, former Prime Minister Madhav Kumarr Nepal and KP Sharma Oli.
Three major parties are divided propelling uncertainty and instability.
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DISQUALIFIED PLA FIGHTERS PRESS DEMANDS FOR SECOND DAY

Kathmandu, 30 Dec.: Disqualified former Maoist PLA combatants closed down the mid-West districts one day after they brought life to a halt in the far-West pressing their demands.
The former fighters said they’ll hold demonstrations n all five regions.
Schools, industries and markets have been closed down.
Fighters allege they were disgracefully sent out of cantonments and camps after categorization by UNMIN which quit Nepal 15 January.
Demands include integration in the state army
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KHUMBUWAN ACTIVISTS,INCLUDNG WOMAN, ARRESTED IN ITAHARI
Kathmandu, 30 Dec.; Six activists of Khambuwan Samyukta Jatiya Morcha (KSJM), including a woman, were arrested Thursday from Itahari

They are suspected lo feting off a bomb in the town this month injuring several persons..

Those arrested areArbin Rai, Gautam Rai, Puran Chaudhary, Bijaya Kumar Raya, Ramchandra Khawas and Sita Khawas

Police recovered explosives and documents of the group from them.

Police also arrested Kedar Dahal and Hari Acharya for allegedly printing the group’s leaflets.
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THREE PEDESTRIANS KILLED AFTER BUS HIT

Kathmandu, 30 Dec : Three pedestrians died when a bus hit them at Gamne-3 in Tanahu Thursday night.
The bus was heading for Pokhara from Damauli.
The bus driver is absconding.
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PM EXTENDS LHOSAR GREETINGS
Kathmandu, 30 Dec.:: In a message on the occasion of the Tamu Lhosar today, President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav has extended best wishes for happiness, peace and prosperity to the people of the Tamu community at home and abroad, RSS reports.

The President has, in the message, said that national festivals will help foster the feelings of brotherhood and unity among the Nepalis living in the mountainous region, the hilly region and the Tarai Madhes region (southern plains) of the country.

He also wished that this festival inspires us all to promote and develop mutual fraternity and goodwill by protecting regional, ethnic and social reconciliation and co-existence.

Similarly, Vice-president Paramananda Jha, in a message of best wishes on the occasion, noted that the among the different festivals of our country that is full of diverse cultures, festivals and unique ethos, the festival of Tamu Lhosar is a popular festival celebrated by the Gurung peoples.

The Vice President expressed best wishes to the people of the Gurung community living in the country and abroad and all Nepalis for their good health, peace, prosperity and progress.

The Vice-president has urged the people of Gurung community to preserve their costumes and languages that depict the historicity of the community.

"May this festival bring all the Nepalis together and inspire all to move forward on the path of collaboration and consensus for writing of the new constitution," he wished.

Similarly, Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattrai has extended hearty best wishes for happiness, peace and prosperity to the people of the Tamu community at home and abroad on the occasion of their great festival of Tamu Lhosar.

In his message of best wishes on the occasion, Prime Minister Dr. Bhattarai has said- Our country is a unique epitome of multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural uniqueness.

He noted that the national unity and prestige in the midst of these diversities has become our national identity.

Stating that the Tamu community is rich in terms of language, culture and tradition, the prime minister said the contribution made by this community in the country while promoting and developing own folk culture is exemplary and laudable.

The prime minister wished that the festival of Tamu Lhosar this year would bring new enthusiasm, vigour and zeal among all the Tamu people and promote fraternity and closeness among all the Nepalis.

Likewise, President of the Nepali Congress, Sushil Koirala has greeted the sisters and brothers of the Tamu community today on the occasion of their festival of Lhosar, wishing them happiness, peace and prosperity.

He said we Nepalis have the special tradition of giving high respect to each others´ language, religion and customs.
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GOVT,PLAN TO ESTABLISH THERMAL PLANT MEETS RESISTANCE
Kathmandu, 30 Dec : The parliament meeting on Thursday deliberated over an ´urgent public importance motion´ on finding short-term and long-term solutions to the increasing acute power shortage and its implications in the country, Republica reports..

The motion proposed by lawmaker Prakash Chandra Lohani of Rastriya Janashakti Party and seconded by Ramji Prasad Sharma of CPN-UML and Gagan Thapa of Nepali Congress (NC) was endorsed unopposed at the House meeting.

Tabling the motion, Lohani fiercely criticized the government preparations to install diesel plant as a solution to address power shortage. Saying that such an idea would cost the country dearly, he suggested to the government to give top priority to complete the under-construction projects in the country, to control power theft and leakage from the national grid and to import electricity from India.

"The country can´t afford to buy and operate a diesel plant and we may go for a coal plant instead," Lohani said at the House meeting.

Former minister of state for energy Sharma echoed Lohani and emphasized the need to control power theft. "It is possible to decrease load-shedding hours significantly if the government works as per the report prepared during our tenure," he claimed.

NC leader Thapa urged the political parties to formulate a national policy on power generation keeping aside the party, group and personal interests.

Former Finance Minister Surendra Pandey of UML also criticized the government for preparing to set up thermal plant without consulting other political parties and not listening to the feedbacks from the experts. Airing their views at the meeting several lawmakers came down heavily on the government for preparing to set up diesel plant.

However, Minister for Energy Posta Bahadur Bogati, while responding the lawmakers´ query, argued that there is no alternative other than to import electricity from India or to set up diesel plant to address the ongoing power shortage immediately.

The House meeting that was obstructed in the previous days resumed Thursday after the agitating lawmakers from dalit communities and the government reached a five-point agreement earlier in the day.
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MAOIST ESTABLISHMENT IN NO MOOD TO MEET BAIDYA DEMAND

Kathmandu, 30 Dec.: Maoist leaders from the party establishment faction on Thursday argued that Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal should take concrete steps to conclude the peace and constitution-drafting process without worrying about its consequences in the party, Republica reports.

The party leaders to argue along these lines were Barshaman Pun, Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, Haribol Gajurel, and Shakti Basnet.

“The chairman should move ahead with the peace and constitution-drafting process with full confidence and without making compromises with anyone in the party,” a party leader quoted Pun as saying during the meeting.

Pun argued that the political paper presented by Senior Vice-chairman Mohan Baidya shows the latter’s fundamental ideological differences with the party establishment.

“If we had not taken the path of peace and constitution, we would long ago have been finished off. The line of Kiran [Baidya] will only lead to anarchy,” another party leader quoted Pun as saying.

Similarly, Gajurel had argued that the task of completing the peace and constitution-writing had now come upon the shoulders of the party.

“Why did we enter the Constituent Assembly (CA) if we were not for drafting the constitution,” another leader quoted Gajurel as saying.

Likewise, Shakti Basnet argued that the Baidya faction should either abide by party discipline or form a separate party.

The party leaders were of the opinion that Dahal should take disciplinary action against the Baidya faction for their “anarchism.”

On Wednesday, party General Secretary Ram Bahadur Thapa, who is close to Baidya, had stated that the party had already split and only awaited a formal announcement of this.

Maoist leader Ram Karki, who is close to Dahal, argued on the other hand that the party will not immediately split, given the make up of the radical faction that comprises leaders with diverse opinions about the course for the party.

“How can they (the radicals) form a separate political party with such dissimilar ideas,” yet another leader quoted Karki as saying.

Dharmendra Bastola, Hari Bhakta Kandel, Hitman Shakya and Pampha Bhusal had criticized Dahal for the latter’s ideological deviation.

Bastola argued that if the party chairman feels that he cannot advance the revolution, he should admit it openly.

According to the leaders, Kandel argued that the party had fallen into revisionism and needed to change its track. He also asked the CC members not to follow the leaders blindly, and to take sides with top leaders on the basis of the issues.

“What is there behind those smiles?”

Many central committee members stated that they were surprised by the way Dahal and Baidya smiled and whispered to each other during the meeting on Thursday. “Surprised by the way the two leaders behaved, we also began to whisper to each other,” said a CC member.

Dahal and Thapa have lately been in serious conflict with each other, and the latter has been publicly accusing Dahal of betraying the dream of revolution and being a “stooge of regressive, expansionist and imperialist forces”.
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BRIDGES TOBE BUILT PER NEED NOT POLITICAL WHIM
Kathmandu, 30 Dec.: The government has decided that bridges will be built on the basis of need and not pressure from party leaders as has been the case in the past. The government is doing a study to prepare a system for prioritising the construction of new bridges and maintenance of old ones, The Kathmandu Post reports.
Silt Consultancy, National Consultants, Hitech Valley and Bridge Consultancy are conducting the survey for the government as a joint venture. As per the contract made with the Department of Roads, the firms will identify the present condition of 1,600 bridges across the country, spot sites for new crossings and streams required to be bridged, prepare a list of bridges that need to be replaced or upgraded based on a multi-criteria analysis and install an MIS-based bridge management system.
“We will provide details of all the bridges on the website besides mentioning the locations where bridges are required,” said Naresh Man Shakya, senior divisional engineer at the department. He added that sites for 300 new bridges would be identified within January 2012 after the consulting firms submit their interim study report.
Detailed information of the bridges with a GIS map and photos will also be accessible to the general public through the department’s official website, said Shakya. Hitech Valley is developing special software to install and start an MIS-based bridge management system.
The study is being carried out with support from the World Bank to better manage construction of new bridges and maintenance of old ones. Under the Road Sector Development Project (RSDP) Additional Funding (AF), the World Bank has provided Rs 30.5 million to the government for development and implementation of an MIS-based bridge management system.
A high-level official at the Ministry of Physical Planning and Works said that the system being planned for building and managing bridges would discourage pressure to build bridges as per the fancy of political parties. “Bridges will be built only after a multi-criteria analysis regarding traffic volume, socio-economic need and availability of resources. They will be built gradually one by one as per the listed locations,” added the official.
Besides managing bridges under a new system, the study is also a tool to attract more resources under the World Bank’s new lending mechanism—Programme for Result (P4R)—for the Bridge Improvement and Management Project in Nepal. An official said that the World Bank has shown interest to provide US$ 15 million each year for four years for bridge construction and maintenance under this new funding mechanism.
“It has become necessary to make information about bridges systematic and transparent to have access under the P4R funding mechanism to Nepal,” said an official at the department. The official added that they had also started the necessary lobbying for the project.
The study on creating a new system for building and renovating bridges, which started three months ago, is scheduled to be completed by June 2012. After the study is finished, the department plans to replace, upgrade or rehabilitate the existing bridges within five years. Shakya said the method would be yet another achievement after the implementation of e-bidding to maintain transparency in development projects.
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THREE WAYS OF ADMINISTERING LOCAL BODIES AFTER SCRAPING CORRUPT ALL PARTY BODIES
Kathmandu, 30 Dec.:The Ministry of Local Development has floated three ways of running local bodies after the dissolution of the ad hoc All Party Mechanisms (APMs) formed to mobilise resources at the grassroots political units, Bhadra Sharma writes in The Kathmand Post..
“Holding fresh local elections is our first option. In case the election cannot take place, we are discussing alternatives,” said MoLD Spokesman Dinesh Thapaliya.
The remaining two options include handing over the charge of Village Development Committees, District Development Committees and municipalities to civil servants once again, and forming new APMs by holding them accountable. The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority had directed the ministry and the government to scrap the cross-party mechanisms comprising representatives of 25 political forces in the Constituent Assembly with the conclusion that they had promoted corruption.
Ministry officials said they were taking up the options with Local Development Minister Top Bahadur Rayamajhi. A recent research carried out by the UNDCF for the Local Development Ministry reveals that local bodies across the country misuse over Rs 20 billion annually, roughly 50 percent of the total budget allocated to local bodies. The report suggests that the government hold local elections to make local bodies more transparent.
After the term of the elected people's representatives expired in 2002, civil servants ran the local bodies until the APMs were formed in 2009.
Minister Rayamajhi and Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai are positive about holding fresh local elections but no agreement has been reached among political parties, nor has the Election Commission been consulted in this regard. Even if the parties agree on fresh local elections, the ministry has to create special task forces to mobilise billions of rupees of resources allocated to local bodies for the time being. The Election Commission has already clarified that it needs a minimum of 90 to 120 days to prepare for the election and that the polls can be held in March or October.
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WEST SETI CAN LIGHT UP COUNTRY
Kathmandu, 30 Dec.: Energy Minister Post Bahadur Bogati today stressed the need to build the 750-MW West Seti Reservoir Project to put an end to the power crisis plaguing the country, The Himalayan Times reports.

“There is no alternative to building the 750-MW reservoir project if we are to end load-shedding, which has gone up to 19 hours a day,” Minister Bogati told lawmakers in Parliament, which was discussing the power crisis.

Bogati noted that not a single reservoir-type project had been built since the 92 MW Kulekhani Reservoir Project came into operation in 1982. Except the Kulekhani project, all hydel projects, which have installed capacity of around 500 MW, are run-of-river type and their combined output during the dry season goes down to as low as 200 MW. The government currently imports 130 MW from India. This can hardly meet hardly six hours of daily national demand.

“The country needs at least 1,050 MW of electricity round the year to be free from load-shedding,” Bogati said.

The minister said as it was not possible to construct large-scale hydel projects immediately, a 100-MW diesel plant can be operated to cut outage by five hours a day. “But power from the plant will cost Rs 21 per unit. We will need Rs 4 billion annually to operate the plant,” he said.

Lawmaker Prakash Chandra Lohani, who tabled the motion for discussion, said installing a diesel plant was not a solution to the crisis and stressed the need to restructure the state power monopoly, Nepal Electricity Authority, to reduce leakages (currently 29 per cent) and declare incentives for the private sector to build hydel projects.

Energy scenario

Installed capacity: 600 MW

Thermal plant capacity: 54 MW

Energy output in dry season: 200 MW

Energy imported from India: 130 MW

Available energy in dry season: 310 MW

Projected power shortage: Up to 21 hours

Total energy required: 1,050 MW

Annual energy demand: 100 MW

Private sector contribution: 15 MW
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PAC SMELLS RAT OVER FUNDS FOR PLA
Kathmandu, 30 Dec.: Even as a faction of the Unified CPN-Maoist led by Vice-chairman Mohan Baidhya is pressing for transparency in party’s financial dealings, the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee today found Rs 814 million — out of Rs 9.109 billion disbursed for the Maoist fighters — unaccounted for, Lekhnath Pandey writes in The. Himalayan Times.

A financial statement presented by Minister for Peace and Reconstruction Satya Pahadi to PAC showed the state released Rs 9.109 billion for Maoist combatants from December 2006 to December 2011. Out of the total released amount, Minister Pahadi’s balance sheet showed that only Rs 8.295 billion had been spent on fighters’ salary, allowances and cantonment management. Out of Rs 814 million, which was unaccounted for, Rs 461 million has been shown as arrears in the name of Maoist standing committee member Krishna Bahadur Mahara, who had received the money in 2006 when he was minister for information and communications as ‘advance’.

The Maoist party has not been able to answer what did it do with the money that was released in the names of 2,449 fighters who were found to be ‘missing’ during the regrouping process conducted by the Secretariat of the Special Committee (for supervision, integration and rehabilitation of Maoist combatants).

At today’s PAC meeting, lawmakers raised questions whether the Maoist leadership was lining their own pockets. The Maoists, until mid-December, had been receiving around Rs 25 million from the cantonment management office under the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction for fighters’ stipend and allowances.

Minister Pahadi, who could not explain why Rs 814 million was unaccounted for, however, tried to defend the ‘missing’ fighters, saying they ‘did not participate in the regrouping process for various reasons’, an excuse the Maoists have been giving for long. She claimed that the money taken by Mahara was spent to bring Maoist combatants to cantonments from different parts of the country. “Therefore an account could not be maintained.”

CPN-UML leader and former finance minister Surendra Pandey, however, demanded a thorough probe into the payments to ‘missing’ combatants. “Allowances have been released for all the combatants while 2,449 combatants were found missing. This calls for a probe,” said Pandey.

Prakash Chandra Lohani of Rastriya Janashakti Party and Deep Kumar Upadhyay of the Nepali Congress also demanded investigation.

Maoist lawmaker Narayan Dahal, however, said the issue was being blown out of proportion and that the allowances were spent ‘as per a political decision’. Dahal, also a brother of Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, even warned that raising the fund misuse issue could derail the entire peace process. But he did link the issue with the infighting in the Maoist party.

“Had there been no conflict among the Maoist leadership, this issue would never have popped up,” said Dahal.

PAC Secretary Som Bahadur Thapa told THT that the panel wants to know the truth behind the ‘missing’ fighters and inappropriate balance sheet presented by Minister Pahadi.

Interestingly, PAC has summoned the Secretariat of the Special Committee on January 8 to clarify about the payment made to 2,449 ‘missing’ combatants. When contacted, Secretariat Coordinator Balananda Sharma, who said the Secretariat in no way was involved in Maoist combatants’ money-related issues, was taken by surprise to learn about PAC summons.
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YETI FINGER A HUMAN BONE, TO BE RETURNED TO NEPAL
Kathmandu, 30 Dec.: Scottish scientists have analysed the DNA of a mummified finger claimed to belong to a yeti, agencies report from Edinburgh.

The finger’s about three-and-a-half-inches long and blackened, with a long nail. It was recently rediscovered at the Royal College of Surgeons in London during cataloguing.

It was brought from Nepal in the 1950s — smuggled out of the country with the help of actor James Stewart. It had been removed from what’s known as the Pangboche Hand, claimed to be the hand of a yeti, and kept in a temple. Explorer Peter Byrne was able to get permission from the temple to remove one finger in secret — which was then smuggled back to Britain in Stewart’s wife’s lingerie case.

However, the finger’s now been analysed by scientists at Edinburgh zoo — who have concluded that it’s actually human. “We had to stitch it together. We had several fragments that we put into one big sequence and then we matched that against the database and we found human DNA,” Dr Rob Ogden, of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland told the BBC, which has made a documentary about the tests. “So it wasn’t too surprising but it was obviously slightly disappointing that you hadn’t discovered something brand new. Human was what we were expecting and human is what we got.”

The team says it’s very similar to known human DNA sequences from that region of Asia, and could have belonged to a long-ago monk. The Royal College of Surgeons says it’s happy to return the finger to the monastery.
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