Nepal Today

Saturday, May 18, 2013

SLOCES SESSION OF RPP RJP BEGINS Kathmandu, 18 May: A closed session of the unity general convention of Rastriya Prajatantara Party, and Rastriya Janashakti Party, led by Surya Bahadur Thapa, started Saturday. A political report of by RJP Prakash Chandra Lohani is being discussed. The convention concludes Sunday. The convention started Friday ,altogether 2,250 representatives are participating. nnnn. THAMEL FIRE UNDER CONTROL IN 12 HOURS Kathmandu, 18 May:: Firefighters worked almost twelve hours to put out a massive fire that broke out in Thamel, a major tourist hub in the capital, on Thursday night. The fire accident is believed to have been caused by gas leak from a cylinder at a house, Kamal Pariyar writes in Republica.. People in the house escaped unharmed leaving out some minor injuries during rescue and escaping. The fire that started from the kitchen of Faces Lounge, a restaurant on the top floor of the three-story building owned by Sher Bahadur Shahi, was brought under control by fire fighters, security personnel and locals. Police said that about seven fire brigades from Lalitpur, Bhaktapur and Kathmndu districts and more than two dozens private water tanks were used to douse the fire. According to the police Inspector Kabit Katuwal, chief at Metropolitan Police Circle Office, Lainchaur, the owners of houses, the lounge and nearby business establishments have not provided any estimation of the damage caused by the fire. "They have said that they would provide the estimation of losses within two to three days,” said the police. Inspector Katuwal said, “The fire has destroyed the Pilgrims Book House and Faces Lounge entirely and shops located in other four adjoining buildings were partially destroyed.” With the efforts of the security personnel and locals, human casualties and further destructions were prevented, he added. The other businesses that suffered losses are Pilgrims Restaurant, Garden Restaurant and Bar, Sheesha Bar, North Field Café and Om Handicrafts. The fire was declared under control nearly 12 hours of the accident. When the fire first started, staff and some of the customers at the lounge used fire extinguishers and available water in an attempt to douse it. But it spread to other areas after the cylinder burst, the police said. Wooden furniture, partitions, books and stored fuels for generators were other major factors that contributed the fire to grow out of control. Because of the narrow alleys and overcrowding by onlookers, fire fighters were unable to reach the destination sooner, police said. Ram Sharan Thapaliya, president of Thamel Tourism Development Council, said, arrangements would be made to minimize losses in future by having fire brigades in stand-by position in the tourist-hub. None of the entrepreneurs had insured their, Thapaliya added. The injured in the accident are Bikash Adhikari, 27, of Chitwan, Mahesh Khanal, 20, of Dhading and Police Constable Bal Kumar Shrestha, according to the police. Firefighting teams deployed from Kali Bahadur Battalion, Supply and Transport Battalion of the Nepal Army, about 300 Nepal Police personnel and about two dozens Armed Police Force men were deployed to control the fire. Eye witness and victim´s accounts Victim and eyewitnesses speak Ram Giri, 34, an owner of Faces Lounge that was totally burnt down When the fire broke out, I was busy handling customers. We tried to put out the fire first with the help of fire extinguishers but in vain. The fire went out of control after three cylinders burst one after the other and engulfed the entire house and spread to other buildings. We focused on rescuing our customers rather than protecting our property and evacuated them. But now we have nothing left. I had invested in the business selling my own house. Dorje Sherpa, 40, an eyewitness I had come to visit one of my friends last night. We were just talking and sitting. All of sudden there was a blast which was followed by about half a dozen blasts. Soon the entire building was covered in smoke. With the help of bouncers, other staffs and locals, attempts were made to put out the fire and transfer valuable belongings and documents to a safe place. A fire brigade arrived at the scene only after half an hour. Gas cylinders, generators, alcohols, handicrafts and huge number of books caused the fire to take enormous shape. Had three to four fire brigades reached the spot in time, the losses would have been very low. Amanda Kwek, 23, a tourist from Singapore I had never witnessed such a fire accident in my life. We heard a loud sound as we were getting ready to sleep at our room in the Kathmandu Guest House. I peeped from the window of the guest house and saw huge flames and smoke. We tried to run out, collecting our belongings, but the guest house staffs didn´t allow us to come out assuring that we were safe. In case of such accidents, authorities are expected to respond very quickly, which I found missing here even in such a crowded tourist area. nnnn EC OPPOSES TEMPORARY SECURITY PERSONNEL FOR POLLS Kathmandu, 18 May : Keeping in view the need for free and fair elections, the Election Commission (EC) has opposed a proposal for hiring temporary security personnel for deployment at polling stations during the upcoming Constituent Assembly (CA) polls, Ghani Ansari writes in Republica.. At a meeting of the Central Election Security Committee (CESC) on Wednesday chaired by Election Commissioner Dolakh Bahadur Gurung, top officials from Nepal Police and the Armed Police Force (APF) proposed to hire around 69,000 temporary personnel to provide security at the polling booths. According to multiple sources, the EC officials said past experience and suggestions from both national and international election observers show that temporary security personnel are undesirable for free and fair elections. “How can we conduct free, fair and credible elections if cadres of political parties are deployed as temporary security personnel at polling booths?” said a knowledgeable source, adding “They (temporary security personnel) will not be accountable like permanent security personnel.” At the meeting, the EC officials were informed that Nepal Police can deploy 43,552 personnel and the Armed Police Force (APF) 24,000 personnel during the polls. Nepal Police wants 60,000 temporary personnel to be hired for the polls while APF wants 9,000. The constitutional body fears that if temporary security personnel are hired, the political parties will seek their share of such hirings just as they did in past elections. Also, the number of temporary security personnel will be greater than that of the permanent ones to be fielded. However, Commissioner Gurung said it is yet to be decided whether or not to hire temporary security personnel. “The stakeholders, during recent interactions across 43 districts, stated that it will be better to hire former security personnel from Nepal Police, APF, Nepal Army (NA), the British Gurkhas and the Indian Army,” Gurung added. The EC officials also maintained that the issue can be addressed if additional recruitments into Nepal Police and the APF are effected at the earliest. “Another option for avoiding the use of temporary security personnel at polling booths is to conduct the polls in two phases, as during the general election in 1998,” the sources said, “However, the EC does not want to take up this option.” According to the sources, if 10 security personnel are deployed at each polling station, 61,000 temporary security personnel will be needed. Security agencies argued that temporary security personnel are a must if the polls are to be conducted in a single phase, sources said. The EC has proposed to form a working committee headed by a joint-secretary to coordinate with security personnel deployed during the election. The committee will comprise officials from all the security agencies, besides the EC officials. Three tiers of security were deployed during previous elections. Nepal Police was deployed inside the polling stations and the APF formed the second layer while the third tier was manned by Nepal Army personnel. “It is yet to be decided whether three tiers of security will be used in the fresh CA polls,” sources added. nnnn


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