Nepal Today

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

rain havoc

Kathmandu, 10 July:: With the flow of water in Saptakoshi and Rapti rivers crossing the danger mark, authorities have activated alert signals, The Himalayan Times
Reports from across the country...

According to Flood Measurement Centre in Kusum of Banke, today’s water level in Rapti River was to 5.4 metres. “As the water has crossed the danger mark (5 metres), we have activated the siren,” said Gauge Reader Bhadra Bahadur Thapa of the centre, adding that further rise in water level could endanger over a dozen villages lying on the river banks.

The Saptakoshi River, on the other hand, witnessed the highest water flow this year, today. As per information from Koshi Barrage Control Room, water flow of 269,005 cusecs was recorded on the river today.

With the water flow in the river crossing the danger mark of 150,000 cusecs, red lights have been lit at the barrage to signal danger.

Water level in the Koshi River had started to rise from Sunday. From 248,000 cusecs water flow on Sunday, the flow had come down to 189,000 cusecs yesterday evening, but it surged again.

According to Koshi Barrage Control Room technician Ramesh Karna, there is no need to worry. He said 37 of the total 56 sluice gates have been opened now to ease water flow at the barrage.

Erosion forces villagers to flee

BAJURA: Heavy erosion on the banks of the Budhiganga and Guigad rivers has put at risk a number of villages in Bajura. “The rivers have been eroding their banks every year for the past eight to 10 years, but with the monsoon this year, a number of human settlements in Pantali and Kalapani, Basali, Belkatya, Phalasain and Nimani are under threat,” said locals, adding that as many as 150 families in Pantali fear their houses may be washed away. “We’ve already lost our fields to the rivers. Now, our houses too are in danger,” said local Naresh Thapa.

Power supply in East shut

BIRATNAGAR: Nepal Electricity Authority has halted power supply to the eastern region indefinitely from Tuesday after the control room of NEA’s Duhabi grid was submerged due to incessant rain. Prakash Narayan Singh, chief at Duhabi Grid, said, “Power supply cannot resume until the water level recedes.” Duhabi Grid receives 80 MW from India’s Kataiya and 25 MW from the Central Transmission Line and distributes power in the east. Singh said it was dangerous even from the security point of view to supply power.

Weather too adverse for flights and rain-damaged roads have cut-off the eastern hill district of Solukhumbu from the rest of the country.

District Technical Office Solukhumbu Chief Muktiram Bhattarai has been frequenting Tribhuwan International Airport for the past six days to fly to his duty station, but as even choppers have not been operating due to bad weather, Bhattarai has been stranded.

Likewise, Nepal Telecom staffer Suchitra Joshi Shrestha has been stranded in Solukhumbu for days. After being transferred, she wanted to fly to the Capital but has been waiting for the weather to improve.

The two airports of the district — Phaplu and Kangel — have gone out of operation. While the former has been closed for black-topping the runway, the latter has been shut due to rains.

The Tenzing Hillary airport of Lukla is in operation, but flights have been grounded due to bad weather, there too. For the past five days, flights have been cancelled at Lukla airport, whereas the road linking Solukhumbu and Kathmandu through Okhaldhunga too has gone out of shape due to rains. “As the road has become inoperable, all vehicular movement has been halted,” said transportation entrepreneur Dawa Sherpa.

Meanwhile, the suspension of flights and disrupted highway has pushed the price of daily commodities up. “There are a few chartered flights, but they are not enough,” said locals, adding that the worst hit are people who are on emergency errands.

Pregnant Prem Kumari Magar of Kerung was taken to Okhaldhunga on a stretcher after doctors said her treatment was not possible at Phaplu hospital . “As there was no other alternative, it took us an entire day to carry her all the way on a stretcher,” said her husband Let Kumar Magar.

The banking sector too has also been hit hard as financial institutions have been unable to fetch funds from the Capital. “We have been unable to bring any money from the Capital,” said Krishna Poudel, manager of Rastriya Banijya Bank, Salleri branch. “We have a helicopter on stand by but the weather condition does not permit us to fly,” he said.
DADMAK: Incessant rainfall since yesterday night has inundated various parts of the country.

One person was swept to death in a flood in Jhapa. The body of a woman was found in Baniyanikhola in Jhapa.

Likewise, Shiv Kumar Rai, 22, has been missing after Ratuwakhola swept him away. The swollen Ratuwakhola has submerged hundreds of houses at Lakhanpur, Kohawara and Maharanijhoda of Damak Municipality. As many as 35 families have been displaced in the municipality. A dozen families were evacuated to safer places from Shivgunj after Baniyani submerged the settlement. Several houses at Satasidham, Shivgunj, Mahavara, Surunga have been submerged.

A swollen Kamalkhola has submerged 12 houses at Topgachhi and 80 households at Mahavara VDC.

The rain-fed Dudhekhola has inundated several plots of paddy fields in Satasidham. Sixty-four houses are under water at Gherabari. Jhapa headquarters Chandragadh. Various swollen rivers in Saptari have submerged more than 2,000 houses in the district. A total of 75 households were submerged after Paudahakhola breached an embankment. Flights at Biratnagar airport were halted for eight hours today.


Kathmandu, 10 July: For the third time in the past three years, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has warned of removing the Pashupatinath Temple from its list of World Heritage Sites if the government fails to block a road track that passes through the Shleshmantak forest, Prathiva Rawal writes in Republica..

In a letter recently sent to the Department of Archeology (DoA), the UNESCO has asked that the government to completely block the 400 meters-track, which it says stops the Pashupatinath temple from meeting standards to qualify as a World Heritage Site. The UNESCO has categorically asked the government to block the road track completely by June, 2014.

According to the UNESCO standards, the construction of roads and buildings and entry of vehicles is strictly prohibited in any World Heritage Site.
But, the government did not meet the UNESCO standards by failing to preserve the Pashupatinath Temple without distorting its original structure. As a result, the UNESCO had to issue yet another warning in just three years´ time.

In its warning letter, the UNESCO has also asked that the government to build the compound wall around the temple complex and initiate efforts to renovate the old structures at the earliest.

"We tried a lot to stop the construction of the road track in Sheleshmantak forest but the local people stood against us," says Keshav Sthapit, Chief of the Kathmandu Valley Town Development Authority (KVTDA). "This road is not necessary as there are many other routes that the local people can use."

According to Bhesh Narayan Dahal, the DoA Director General, the UNESCO is sending its representatives to Nepal in three months to see if the government has really initiated works such as planting trees on the unwarranted road track and renovating old structures of the temple.

"While opening the road track, many trees were cut down and the original structure of the area was distorted," says Sushil Nahata, former member secretary of the Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT). "After the repeated warnings from the UNESCO, the DoA had asked the Department of Roads (DoR) to stop the construction of the road completely."

As per its previous plan, the DoR wanted to build a blacktopped road through the Shleshmantak forest. Following the UNESCO´s objection, the DoR shunned its plan and did not blacktop the track. Now, the UNESCO wants the government to restore the track to its natural state.

Even though the DoR did not blacktop the road, people and vehicles still use this track, which passes through the Shleshmantak forest. They find it as one of the shortest routes to reach Mulpani and Gothatar from Tilganga area.

The government had decided to open the Tilganga-Guheshwori road track when the UCPN (Maoist) leader Hisila Yami was the Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport in 2007. With the support of the local people, the DoR successfully opened the track. But, when the UNESCO issued the second warning letter, the government stopped the construction work a year ago.

"We immediately stopped the construction work after we got order from the government," says Gopal Khadka, Chief of the Kathmandu Road Division at the DoR. "But the local people are not happy with our decision and want us to blacktop the road."

Pashupatinath was listed in the UNESCO´s World Heritage Site in October, 1979. Along with Pashupatinath, six other sites of Kathmandu, including Hanuman Dhoka durbar square, Patan durbar square, Bhaktapur durbar square, Swayambhu, Bouddhanath and Changu Narayan were were also put on the coveted list.

UNESCO will not tolerate our excuses next time

Bhesh Narayan Dahal
Director General
The Department of Archaeology (DoA).

Despite the UNESCO´s warning, why has the government yet not started works to improve physical condition of the Pashupatinath Temple complex and plant trees on the unwarranted road track?

It is not that the government has not done anything. Actually, the government has stopped building the road. Last year, the government ordered the Department of Roads to call off a tender notice published for blacktopping the road. However, the local people were not satisfied. They still asked the DoR to continue with its work to increase the value of their land. So, in order to solve the problem, the government also needs support from the locals. But, the local people and organizations are not ready to cooperate with the government. Similarly, for other works like plantation and building boundaries, we will organize our meeting soon with various stakeholders, including the Department of Road (DoR) the Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT), among others.

When will the DoA start planting trees on the road track and building the compound wall around the temple complex?
We will start our work after holding meetings with the officials of the PADT. As the PADT remained without its leadership for some time, we could not hold meetings on time. Now, we hope to organize it very soon.

Are you sure the government will not get yet another warning for the Pashupatinath temple when the UNESCO organizes its next meeting in Qatar in 2014?
I still doubt it. If we are not able to follow their guidelines and stop constructing the road, we may get yet another warning. And, in 2014, the UNESCO will no longer tolerate any of our excuses as they have already excused us several times. Then, the Pashupatinath will be listed in the list of World Heritage Sites under risk.

What will happen if any site is listed in that list?
Danger list is for such sites which violate any of the rules set by the UNESCO. All those heritage sites which have been enlisted in UNESCO´s World Heritage Site should follow some rules which are set by the UNESCO. For example, no one has right to distort the cultural and historical value of the site. Similarly, the caretaker of such sites must maintain greenery and protect them from any kind of destructive work inside those heritage sites. If we fail to follow these rules, then the UNESCO will put our heritage sites in the danger list. In such a situation, the country will face embarrassment in the international community.



Kathmandu, 10 July: A study conducted by Transparency International (TI) has found that political parties are most corrupt in Nepal.

Seventy percent of the total respondents surveyed in all the 58 municipalities in Nepal answered that political parties are the most corrupt followed by public service and bureaucracy (66 percent), police (58 percent), parliament (51 percent), judiciary (51 percent) and private sector (30 percent) in the top five places. Under the category, 14 percent said media is a corrupt sector.

According to the study named Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) 2013, 57 percent people included in the survey in Nepal believed that cases of corruption have highly increased in the last two years. One thousand people from all the 58 municipalities across the country were queried for the survey purpose.

Likewise, 69 percent respondents believed that corruption is a serious problem in public sector, 42 percent said personal contact is important to access public services, while 67 percent believed that the government effort to fight graft is ineffective.

Asked if they knew about lodging of complaints against corruption, 61 percent responded positively whereas the remaining 43 percent said they are not aware about any institution for filing complaints and another 39 percent said they were not optimistic about any action even if complaints are lodged. Likewise, 86 percent however said that citizens have a significant role in controlling corruption.

Also, the survey revealed that 43 percent have faced some incident in life when they were asked for a bribe and 28 percent said they refused to give a bribe even when asked.

Of the total, 40 percent said that they bribed officials for getting their works done in land related services, 37 percent had paid bribes in the judicial service and 30 percent to police.

However, respondents in other 36 countries viewed police as the most corrupt, 20 countries viewed the judiciary as the most corrupt in their society, said the survey.

The GCB is a TI initiative started from 2003 and the study is carried out in 107 countries around the world. Nepal was included in the survey from 2011, with the present study being only the second edition for the country. A total of 100 households -- 53 percent male and 47 percent females -- from all 58 municipalities of Nepal were included in the study.



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