POKHARA, Dec 26: Pokhara has been undisputedly accepted as the capital of Province 4 by all of the 11 districts. Experts claim that Pokhara became the choice because there are no other cities in the province that are as well developed and accessible.
“Pokhara is thrilling in terms of its natural beauty, and therefore a great tourist hub. Besides that, it is the only city in the province, which has established an equal connection with all other areas of the province. So, the dispute did not emerge while considering it for our province’s capital,” noted Kapil Mani Dahal, a professor of political science at the Prithivi Narayan Campus.
“Its physical infrastructures, administrative strength, the economic and geographical base has made it a common choice of all for the capital.”
Dahal cites hydropower, agriculture, farming of herbs among other sectors that can boost the development and prosperity in the province. But, the tourist industry, he said, has the highest potential of them all, he said.
“Every place offers natural resources and some prospects of development. If we talk of this province, what we cannot be oblivious of is tourism,” he said. “We need to better manage and promote this sector. Tourism can be a way to generate quick and sustainable jobs for the people here.”
He opined that as soon as it officially announced as the capital city, Pokhara would have much more resources and opportunities at its disposal. Adopting modern technologies in farming and exploiting hydropower potential that the province has can be very rewarding, he said.
“Similarly, we can expedite herb farming here. Many residents are already doing it but the state should assist in doing that professionally,” Dahal stated.
Apart from Pokhara, several areas of Manang and Mustang attract tourists for trekking. These spots are internationally famous. Tourists have to acquire special pass and pay extra amount to visit certain zones in Mustang and Manang. Annapurna Base Camp has equally been a craze among tourists for long. Dahal remarks that the beauty the province holds is exceptional. “We must organize our tourist spots and bring in more of them while keeping the natural vibes of those places intact,” he noted.
Dhorpatan of Baglung, Manaslu Conservation Area and historical palaces of Tanahu and other districts are tourist attraction as well. The entire province has many tourist attractions.
Surya Thapaliya, manager of Tourism Board, Pokhara, claims that around 300,000 international tourists visit Pokhara annually. Domestic tourists outnumber this but there is no exact data in this category.
“Among the foreign tourists, 40 percent are trekkers. These are the people who reach out to the remote mountains and create employment opportunities for the locals,” he said.
Dahal called on for increasing investment in tourism sector. He opined that such investment would benefit not only Pokhara or the province but also the entire country. “If we can tap and exploit full tourism potentials in the province, it will help in making the whole nation prosperous,” he said. One factor, he claimed, that directly benefits the country is the foreign currency it earns from the tourism industry.
While the province is immensely rich in natural beauty and resources, critics claim that rapid urbanization is threatening its wholesome development and prosperity. They called for checking the haphazard plotting of lands in Pokhara and other towns of the province. Or else, they warned, it would invite serious problem in the days to come.
“If you do not move ahead with vision and if you are not far-sighted, we will face cruel fate later,” stated Ananada Raj Mulmi, former president of FNCCI.
“The other challenge is road network. We opened roads in several places, but most of those have not been scientifically constructed. We need quality roads to connect villages and towns,” he added. “Similarly, we must be aware of the ever-growing number of vehicles.
There must be a strict system to check it,” he added. Pokhara, for instance, already suffers from dense population, according to Mulmi. The city needs to take a break from inviting more populace, he suggests.
“The authorities concerned must properly consider the city’s demographic capacity. If we are going to build more houses, we have to make sure that the city can sustain. Along with this issue, there are many issues that authorities will have to consider while making Pokhara as the capital city of the province,” he stated.
Haphazard plotting of land is a serious real estate problem, not only in Pokhara, but also in other areas of the province, according to Mulmi. He stressed on the need to prepare integrated human settlement. “Just because nature has given us resources and beauty, we can’t sit being proud of it. We can be proud of it, only when we develop system that will retain its grandeur in the long term,” he adds.