Nepal Today

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Kathmandu, 14 Aug.: Wednesday morning’s morning temperature in the capital was 19 degrees Celsius.
Temperature is expected to rise to 27 degrees Celsius in the afternoon.
Tuesday’s rai9nfall was 60.2mm.
Kathmandu, 14 Aug  : The High Level Political Committee (HLPC) has almost reached an agreement with the agitating Ashok Rai-led Federal Socialist Party (FSP) and the Federal Democratic Front (FDF) comprising eight various parties including the Upendra Yadav-led Madhesi People´s Rights Forum-Nepal (MPRF-N), over the upcoming November polls. Repblica reports..

The two agitating sides reached close to a deal after the parties represented in the HLPC on Tuesday agreed to concede the demands for increasing the number of seats to be allocated under the proportional electoral system for the upcoming Constituent Assembly (CA) poll, request the Election Commission to allow additional time for voters who are yet to register with the EC, and ´dissolve´ the HLPC and make some revisions in the 25-point ordinance and 11-point political agreement.

However, the HLPC and the agitating parties stuck to their stances on the resignation of Chairman of the poll government Khil Raj Regmi from the post of chief justice and adjustment to election constituencies in line with changes in population, as demanded by the FDF. "The talks with the FDF today [Tuesday] have ended on a positive note. But we have not reached any definite conclusion. We have decided to sit again at 5 pm tomorrow [Wednesday] for decisive talks," UCPN (Maoist) leader Narayan Kaji Shrestha told media after the meeting with the FDF.

Shrestha said they have decided to hold further discussions on the demands of the FDF that Chairman Regmi step down as chief justice and that the election constituencies be increased in line with the increase in population as shown by the census of 2011. "I am confident we will be able to take our negotiations to a logical conclusion tomorrow," he said.

Sources said leaders of the parties in the HLPC have proposed to keep the HLPC in ´hibernation´ till elections are held and make adjustments to representation from Madhes in the new Constituent Assembly with the seats allocated for nominations to be made by the cabinet. The latter is meant to respond to demands put forth by the FDF to delineate election constituencies on the basis of population. The big parties have also assured the FDF that they are ready to go for a 601-member CA if that guarantees the participation of the agitating parties in elections on the scheduled date of November 19.

Earlier on August 7, the FDF had presented six various demands to the HLPC, including dissolution of the HLPC, resignation of Khil Raj Regmi as chief justice, delineation of election constituencies on the basis of population, additional time for voter registration, and maintaining intact the 58:42 ratio between the proportional electoral system and first-past-the-post.

FDF Spokesperson Parshu Ram Tamang told media that they are close to an agreement on four of the six demands presented to the HLPC. "But we are yet to reach agreement on delineation of election constituencies on population basis and resignation of the chairman of the Interim Election Council as chief justice," he said. The HLPC and FDF are sitting for talks again on Wednesday afternoon to finalize the deal, with both sides agreeing to exercise maximum flexibility.

After holding talks with the FDF in the morning, the HLPC sat for separate a meeting with the Ashok Rai-led FSP in the evening to respond to the latter´s five-point demand. "We have reached an agreement on all but two issues," FSP General Secretary Rajendra Shrestha told Republica. He said they are yet to reach agreement on holding an all-party political conference to resolve the contentious issues of the new statue and ensuring a 601-member CA as per the previous constitutional arrangements.

The FSP earlier forwarded its five-point demand, that includes dissolution of the HLPC and holding of an all-party conference to settle key political issues related to the new statute, revising the 25-point ordinance and 11-point political deal reached among the four big parties, arrangements of ensuring voting rights to Nepalese citizens living abroad, dissolution of the HLPC and maintaining intact the 58:42 ratio between the proportional electoral and first-past-the-post systems.

Sources said the leaders of the four major parties have agreed to keep the HLPC in ´hibernation´ till elections are held, revise both the 25-point ordinance and 11-point political deal and go for a new CA as per the ´previous arrangement´ at the time of the 2008 poll. But they have not made any specific commitment to the FSP to go for a 601-member CA.

The HLPC, likewise, has told FSP leaders that they would be able to go for an all-party conference if that would bring the Mohan Baidya-led alliance also into the electoral process. "We are holding talks with the Baidya-led alliance Wednesday afternoon. We will then inform you if we can go for an all-party political conference," Shrestha quoted a HLPC leader as saying.



Kathmandu, 14 Aug.:: A bleak future lies ahead for the destitute children and orphans living in Bal Mandir, the country´s oldest and biggest child home, as the organization faces a serious financial crisis, Prathiba Rawal writes in Repblica..

All children are not blessed equally. Those who are not blessed live in child homes, hoping to get sufficient food, better life and education. It is the child homes´ responsibility to ensure that their basic needs are fulfilled. But the children living in Nepal Children´s Organization (NCO), or Bal Mandir, are struggling to get even two squares of meal.

Bal Mandir, a non-governmental organization, is facing economic crisis for the last ten years. As a result, around 400 children, who live in different branches of Bal Mandir across the country, are not getting proper food, education and health facilities.
Apart from orphans, children affected by the war, children of jail inmates and abandoned children also live in Bal Mandir.

Until two years ago, Bal Mandir had more than 600 children. The number has now dwindled to 400. As it has no financial resources to look after more children, Bal Mandir has stopped admitting new children since the last couple of years.

Bal Mandir runs kindergarten schools in all districts with the support of District Development Committees. Bal Mandir´s financial crisis has hurt these schools as well.
As it struggles to manage even the operating cost, Bal Mandir has failed to provide salaries to its around 100 staff for the last 22 months. On Monday, the disgruntled Bal Mandir staff even lock in all the board members of the organization in a hall. The locked board members were freed only in the wee hours of Tuesday.
According to Manmohan Gopal Shrestha, treasurer of Bal Mandir, the organization immediately needs Rs 32 millions to pay school fees of its children, staff salaries and other expenses.

As Bal Mandir children and staff bear the brunt of financial crisis, the management is now busily searching for donors.
“The organization survives on donation but we do not have regular donors,” says Krishna Dhamakar Shah, general secretary of Bal Mandir. “Apart from donation, we also relied on international adoption of our children. But due to procedural difficulties in international adoption, we are unable to tap that source of funding as well."
According to Shah, until 1995, Bal Mandir received 40 per cent of its budget from the government. "We sought donors help only for 60 percent of our budget," he says. The situation was good and children were getting good facilities. During that time, foreigners could adopt children from Bal Mandir. And, in return, Bal Mandir would get US$ 5000 for each adopted child.

A few years ago, after anomalies in adoption process were exposed by the media, the government imposed a ban on international adoption of children from Nepal. Although the ban was lifted later, very few foreigners have come to Nepal to adopt children since then.

“Several child homes were involved in making money through adoption. Their shameless work has hit us," says Puni Raj Maharjan, chief of Adoption Section at Bal Mandir. “Because of them we have to suffer till today. Now we are promoting domestic adoption.”
According to Maharjan, NCO charges Rs 75,000 for domestic adoption. The organization is promoting domestic adoption because it does not have to deal with all the negative consequences of the international adoption.

Till 2003, NCO managed money from their savings. But after that, the economic crisis grew worse.
The financial problem has seemed insurmountable since 2007, when the organization sent some of its staff abroad to inspect the places where the adopted children were staying. The entire cost of the visit was borne by NCO.
According to NCO, approximately Rs 10 million was spent in the visit. From that year, the staff has not been getting their salaries on time and the organization even failed to pay the school fees of the children.

“We feel sorry for all the staff and the children because we could not provide them better facilities. Today, we do not have support from the government, so we have to look for the donors to run our organization,” says Rita Singh Baidya, chairperson of the NCO.

After being locked for 13 hours till Tuesday morning, the management team of Bal Mandir has agreed to address the demands raised by Bal Mandir staff.
In a press meet on Tuesday, the Bal Mandir management team formed a working committee to implement eight-point demand raised by the employees.
Meanwhile, Bal Mandir´s general secretary Krishna Dhamakar Shah resigned from his post, to be replaced by Subash Kumar Pokhrel. Tulasi Narayan Shrestha is appointed as the new vice-chairman of the organization. And other vacant posts were also fulfilled by the new management team. Similarly, Dharmendra Paswan has been appointed deputy-general secretary.

The management committee also scrapped its previous decision to promote Pramila Shrestha to the post of deputy director of Bal Mandir.
The disgruntled Bal Mandir staff had locked 20 board members along with chairperson Rita Singh Baidya in a meeting hall of the organization.
“We have stopped our protest program for now,” said Arjun Dhungel, general-secretary of the staff association. “That does not mean we will not carry out any protest program in future. If this management also fails to address our demands, they will also be removed.”

The association has demanded immediate release of salaries due over 22 months, salary increment and disbursement of salaries on the last date of each month, as per the government rules. Similarly, the agitating staff members have asked the organization to be transparent about funds and make public the information such as the source of fund, amount received and how the money is spent every month. Other demands include, fixing the facilities to be given by the NCO, abrogation of all wrongful promotions and postings, special incentives for the residential staffs and making all NCO staff across the country permanent.
“Few demands have already been addressed and they have asked for six months to fulfill other demands,” said Dhungel.



Kathmandu, 14 Aug.: A recently refurbished Indian submarine exploded early Wednesday in a dock in Mumbai, leaving rescuers scrambling to find 18 sailors who were on board, AFP reports from Mumbai.

The diesel-electric INS Sindhurakshak, which was recently refitted by Russia, has partially sunk with "only a portion visible from the surface", a statement from the nay said.

The NDTV channel showed grainy and shaky footage of the fierce explosion which lit up the sky at the naval dockyard shortly after midnight.

"The cause of the explosion is not known. We are searching for the 18 personnel," navy spokesman Narendra Kumar Vispute told AFP.

He said that divers had been deployed once the flames were extinguished and they were hunting for the men on board.

"There are no reports of casualties at the moment," he added.

The accident comes just days after New Delhi trumpeted the launch of its first domestically produced aircraft carrier and the start of sea trials for its first Indian-made nuclear submarine.

India has been expanding its armed forces rapidly to upgrade its mostly Soviet-era weaponry and react to perceived threats from regional rival China.

The Mumbai dockyard is a restricted area and was closed to media.


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