Nepal Today

Friday, June 28, 2013

COMPLETE REPORTS OF QUAKE DETAILS IN RUKUM YET TO COME Kathmandu, 29 June: First reports said 20 persons were injured in stampedes following an earthqjake at 5.25 Friday with its epicenter at Rukumkot in Rukum where houses have developed cracks. Fifteen districts in the mid and far-West were hit by Friday’s quake, according to police. Additional police have been deployed to determine casualties and damage. The quake hit the area just as early monsoon broke; the annual rain killed at lkeast 39 persons triggering floods and landslides. Nnnn TEMPERATURE ON A CLOUDY SATURDAY MORNING IN CAPITAL 21 DEGREES CELSIUS Kathmandu, 29 June: The capital’s Saturday morning temperature was 21 degrees elsius. Mercury on rainy day is expected to rise to 29 degrees Celsius. Altogether 2.5mm rainfall was recorded Friday. Nnnn ADB PASSES BUCK TO GOVT. Kathmandu, 29 June: In its first official reaction over the controversy surrounding the specifications of the national ID cards, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has said that the Nepal government will go ahead with rebidding for the national ID card project if it is established that the tender specifications has favored any one company, Kosh Raj Koirala writes in Republica.. Altogether 49 international companies have shown interest in undertaking the project. “They [the government officials] informally told us that they will reject the entire bid if only one company qualifies in the final bidding. The bidding process will be redone after that,” ADB Country Director Kenichi Yokoyama told Republica. In an exclusive conversation with Republica on Friday, Yokoyama also defended the National Identity Management Center (NIDMC) and said that the database management system and biometrics aspects of the national ID cards were not compromised in the recent amendments made to the project specifications. “You have raised a concern that database specifications were removed [from the tender specifications]. But it is not like that. It is just that additional specification [of the database management] were removed. It is wrong that the total database procedures were removed,” Yokoyama told Republica referring to the story carried by Republica on Thursday that by removing the minimum specifications for Database Management System the government was treading a dangerous path as it could make the data in delivery of public services vulnerable. However, the amendment notice issued by NIDMC on May 15 clearly states: “In the Section VI (Schedule of Requirements), the heading 6.2.12 Database Management System minimum specifications and all the contents of page no. 6-102 and page no 6-103 have been removed.” ADB is providing a grant assistance of US $ 8 million to execute the first phase of the US $ 117 million project to distribute biometric cards to over 20 millions Nepali nationals, who are over 16 years of age. Yokoyama, however, shed direct responsibility of the project and said, “We only provide the funding to the government. It is the government´s responsibility to implement this project.” He added, “But of course, we have asked the government to ensure efficiency, transparency, economy and quality in the procurement process.” “We have at least looked at the initial tender document. In a sense, we have our concurrence to the bidding documents,” he further said. Referring to the complaints sent to ADB by some prospective contractors, he said, “Complaints are received by the government. So the government is in a position to respond to all these complaints and provide clarifications. It is the government´s job.” The government´s multi-million dollar project to distribute biometric national ID cards courted controversy after nearly a dozen aspiring international bidders lodged complaints claiming that the tender specifications were manipulated to suit the interests of one specific company. An internal investigation by MoHA suspended a technical official involved in the manipulation of the specifications and also made amendments to some of the specifications made in the original tender invitation. Though ADB has defended NIDMC amendment in Database Management System minimum specifications, experts say that by dropping the database requirement, the home ministry will lose control over the database management system as a third party will not only create but also control the data. Concerned database experts, who did not want to be named, told Republica that data is a core component of the national database project, thus the tender must specify the requirement of having a robust database platform, which is scalable enough to cater for current and future needs of the country. The pilot project caters to 110,000 citizens´ data, and there is a question of ensuring that the same database platform will be scalable enough to cater to the need of the subsequent phases of the project. Importantly, a citizen´s data captures key information of a person and securing data thus becomes very critical. There must be a requirement to ensure that the data remains secure by encrypting the critical information all the way from data storage till disaster recovery sites along with strong backups. In a non-secure database, database deployment and system administration will automatically get access to update, view, delete or tamper with all the records. Nnnn CHOPPER USE WILL STILL VIOLATE ELECTION CODE Kathmandu, 29 June: If political parties do have their say when it comes to chartering helicopters and planes for their election campaigns, the affair will be an expensive one, subsequently violating the proposed poll code of conduct, Bhadra Sharma writes in The Kathmandu Post.. Election Commission (EC) officials say the use of helicopters and planes will violate the code in two ways. While on one hand the hefty amount needed to charter flights would mean crossing the campaign expenditure ceiling set by the EC, on the other, it would encourage collection of forced donations. The EC, which has banned collecting forced donations, has not allowed a candidate contesting under the First-Past-the-Post electoral system to spend more than Rs 1 million for the campaign. This amount is double the amount during the 2008 CA elections. Major political parties, mainly the UCPN (Maoist) and Madhes-based parties, have been strongly opposing the EC’s proposal to ban the use of chartered planes and helicopters, while the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML are silent on the matter. Even former senior officials of the EC have rejected the idea of the parties using aircraft during the elections, arguing that it would be an expensive affair. “If leaders complain against the ban on chartered flights, it indicates that they are not in sync with the financial reality of the country,” said former Chief Election Commissioner Bhoj Raj Pokharel. According to helicopter owners, an hour of chartered flight in a 24-seater MI 17 helicopter costs up to US$7,000 (Rs 672,000; current exchange rate), while the same for a six-seater chopper costs US$1,800 (Rs 172,800). Chartering a Jet Stream aircraft costs US$ 3,700 (Rs 355,200) per hour, while the rate for a 19-seater Dornier aircraft is US$2,400 (Rs 230,400) per hour. Parties chartering aircraft have to rely on private air companies as the state-owned Nepal Airlines Corporation does not offer charter services. Nnnn MEDIA GOOGLE “We will hold talks with the army chief and remind him that such a move will only invite confrontation. Does the Nepali Army belong to four forces only? Was the army created to shoot the political parties not taking part in an election?” (CPN Maoist Vice-chairman CP Gajurel, The Himalayan Times, 29 June) nnnn


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