Nepal Today

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

DEUBA HOLDING DISCUSSIONS IN NEW DELHI WITH MAIN OPPOSITION BJP LEADERS Kathmandu, 13 June: Former Prime Minister and NC senior leader Sher Bahadur Deuba resumes consultations with Indian leaders in New Delhi Thursday before returning home a day later after concluding a five-day India visit. Deuba flies back to the Indian capital from Dehra Dun for the talks. The former premier is visiting for high-level consultations at Indian government invitation. He has held discussions with Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Mamohan Singh who assured help for constituent assembly elections. Deuba holds consultations with main opposition BHP leaders. nnnn SUPREME COURT RECOGNIZES SARITA GIRI LED NSP DEVI Kathmandu, 13 June: A division bench of the supreme court Wednesday recognized Nepal Sadbhavana Party (NSP Devi) led by Sarita Giri. Khushi Lal Mandal and Shyam Sundar Gupta claimed leadership of the party established by Gajendra Naraian Singh, husband of Ananda Devi.. Gupta is serving a jail sentenceon corruption and hijack charges. The Election Commission had recognised the Gupta-led NSP Devi. Nnnn . FARE HIKE PROPOSED Kathmandu, 13 June:: If you are a regular commuter relying on city cabs, it is going to be no joyride anymore, with the likely hike in fares making you shell out little extra every time you hail a taxi, The Himalayan Times reports.. The Department of Transport Management has proposed that the Ministry for Physical Infrastructure and Transport hike taxi fares by 15.62 per cent. The current taxi fare is Rs 32 per kilometre and with the implementation of the proposed hike, commuters will have to pay Rs 5 extra for every kilometre they travel. “The department has proposed Rs 37 for every kilometre,” said Sarad Adhikari, Technical Director, DoTM. “The hike is based on inflation and growing (vehicle) maintenance expenses. We submitted the proposal last week; the ministry will take a decision soon.” According to DoTM, fare hike was proposed based on the recommendation made by a three-member technical team headed by Adhikari. “We have analysed three major components — inflation, fuel price and wages of taxi drivers — while reviewing the taxi fares,” Adhikari said. Cab operators too have long been demanding that the government increase the taxi fares. DoTM has proposed that the flag down rate should be Rs 14, instead of current Rs 10. Flag down rate is the charge that appears on the digital screen the moment a passenger gets into taxi. Though taxi fare was hiked by 8.19 per cent, taking it to Rs 32 per kilometre, in March 2012, the flag down rate has not been increased since 2008. Last year petrol used to cost Rs 116 per litre, now it is priced at Rs 123 per litre. Out of 15,000 taxis plying across the country, 80 per cent are in the Kathmandu Valley and Pokhara and rest in other cities of the country. Taxi fare, especially in the Capital city, has always been a matter of great concern though, with rampant complaints of cabbies involved in fleecing passengers. On most of the occasions, cabbies refuse to switch on the meter and if they do, they have been found to have tampered with their meters. A recent crackdown by traffic police had helped cabbies fall in line, much to the relief of commuters. Those relying on cabs will continue to use them even after the fare hike; their only concern, however, will be that the cabbies do not take them for a ride. Nnnn WATER TARIFF HIKE PROPOSED Kathmandu, 13 June: The Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited, which has failed to fix the perennial problem of water shortage in the Valley, is, however, all set to fix new tariff rates — that too without having a concrete plan to address Kathmanduites’ water woes, The Himalayan Times reports.. KUKL supplies about 150 million litres of drinking water daily in the Valley in the wet season and 80-90 million litres during summer. The daily demand is, however, 350 million litres. KUKL claims that it is planning to hike the water tariff by 127 per cent to make up for the losses and tackle inflation. Arjun Babu Dhakal, Managing Director, KUKL, said the water utility has been incurring a loss of Rs 10 million every year for the past five years. “Consumers pay Rs 55 for every 10,000 litres in the Kathmandu Valley,” said Dhakal. “Rs 5 was increased per 10,000 litres five years ago while staff salaries and allowances have gone up by 129 per cent.” KUKL employs 1,200 people. But KUKL has been mired in inefficiency and mismanagement — a simple example could be its failure to make consumers pay the bills. Nor has KUKL been able to fix the erratic water supply in the Valley; some consumers enjoy 24 hours of water supply, some get once in a fortnight. The quality of water supplied by KUKL, experts have said time and again, is poor. In such a situation, if KUKL is planning to hike the tariff, it has just one oar in the water. But Dhakal said without increasing the tariff, KUKL would neither be able to survive nor would be able to improve its service. On KUKL plans, Dhakal said it will install 40 tube wells in the coming fiscal year that will supply 40 million litres of water daily. KUKL, which had earlier proposed a 174 per cent hike, sent its proposal to increase the tariff by 127 per cent to Tariff Fixation Committee 45 days ago. TFC has 60 days to take a decision on the proposal. TFC Chairman Hari Prasad Sharma said it is not an irrational proposal. “The proposed tariff is cheaper than that in Thailand and neighbouring countries,” said Sharma, stopping short of telling about the service and quality the consumers get in the countries he was referring to. Nnnn MEDIA GOOGLE “Political parties have the right to protest in a democracy. We do nor have any problems with any party protesting the poll process.” “Chairman of SP Rajendra Mahoto in Republica, 13 June) Nnnn


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