KATHMANDU, June 11: Hundreds of youths from Karnali region staged a peaceful protest in the capital on Saturday demanding that the government increase budget for Dolpa and Humla districts which still lack road connectivity with the rest of the country.
Expressing their disappointment with the allocation of budget, youths belonging to five districts of Karnali took to the streets to draw the attention of the government. They accused the government of neglecting the development of Karnali Zone.
“In this 21st century when people are talking about metro rails, there still exists places in our country where people have never seen vehicles and have to walk for days to reach markets,” said Jaya Laxmi Chaulagain, a law student who is originally from Humla.
Recently, while publicizing the annual budget program for the local units, the government sanctioned Rs 1.5 million each for the development of the two districts. “We have seen the government spending millions for the construction of a single bridge in urban areas. How can it expect us to develop the whole district with the little amount allocated for us? It's very much unfair,” she expressed her dissatisfaction.
The peaceful rally which commenced from the Narayanhiti Palace marched on to the Constituent Assembly building, New Baneshwar. With the objective of making the rally more effective, youths performed their traditional cultural dance and played folk music.
Due to lack of roads, people of Humla and Dolpa are compelled to buy goods and materials at high prices that too after walking for miles, said the participants of the rally.
“We pay Rs 40 for a noodle which the urbanities get just for Rs 15. We can still afford it but the government is making us poor due to the high price,” said Upendra Jung Shahi, a youth originally from Humla.
He further said that the government has tested enough of their patience but now they are not going to tolerate it any more. Addressing the wide number of his youth friends, he said, “We waited for years but always remained neglected. But now if they are not ready to give, we will have to take it on our own. We can't stay calm any more.”
The reason why Karnali is still deprived of basic infrastructures is the negligence of the government, according to the youths. They further informed that the government has always turned a blind eye to the issues and miseries of the locals of Karnali.
Prakash Rokaya, a politburo member of CPN (Maoist centre), complained that the government did not prioritize the development of Karnali, a remote mountainous region, in its policies and programs. “The government changes, politicians change, leaders change but why Karnali is still the same - far away from civilization. Is it not a part of the same country?” questioned Rokaya.
He urged the youths to keep up with their protest until they draw the attention of the concerned authorities and their demand gets addressed.
Speaking at the program, the students urged I/NGOs to stop cashing in on their miseries by selling the photos of the locals of Karnali if they can't really help them. Showing their dissatisfaction toward party leaders and representatives, youths warned them not to use them only as vote banks.