KATHMANDU, June 1: In a controversial move, the government has upgraded Birgunj and Biratnagar into metropolitan city.
Five days after the Supreme Court directed the government not to increase the number of local units in the tarai, a meeting of the Cabinet on Wednesday took another to add the two cities in list of metropolis while keeping their boundaries intact. The meeting also postponed the second phase of the local election to June 28.
The decision is likely to face legal hurdle as the cities, in their current shapes and sizes, do not meet the criteria to become metropolis. The Local Level Restructuring Commission (LLRC) had enlisted the cities as sub metropolises based "on the scientific criteria set to demarcate the local boundaries".
LLRC officials said that Birgunj and Biratnagar were enlisted as sub metropolis based on the areas and populations of the cities. They said that the government's decision has violated well-established criteria.
"It's unclear whether the decision would be implemented before the polls. But the cities with the existing boundaries and population are unfit to become metropolitan city," said an LLRC official.
The government took the decision Wednesday after after the SC stayed the government's earlier decision to add 23 local units and upgrade Birgunj and Biratnagar into metropolitan city. The SC had said that the decision was against the spirit of the constitution.
Wednesday's decision, however, comes as good news for the Madhes-based parties.
Several Madhesi parties including the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal, which has announced to boycott polls, have been demanding that Birgunj and Biratnagar be upgraded to metropolitan cities.