KATHMANDU, Sept 18: The government is clearing out the premises of the Social Welfare Council (SWC) to make way for the office and residence of Vice-President Nanda Bahadur Pun. A recent cabinet meeting decided to this effect.
The government has concluded that the existing vice-presidential office is congested and unfit for the high office.
Following the government decision, officials are searching for premises for the SWC to move into. “Since the government has already decided to use the council’s office building as the vice-presidential office, we are searching for a new house for the council,” said Buddhi Bahadur Khadka, secretary at the Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizen, which oversees the SWC.
However, the government’s efforts to arrange a new house for the council have been futile so far. Arranging a single building for 100 officials currently working under the council is a herculean task, according to government officials.
“Our first priority is to shift the council to a government building. If we cannot do that, we may even shift it into rented quarters,” said an official concerned.
The SWC office, constructed by the then royal family to deal with donor agencies, is located at Lainchaur in the center of Kathmandu. Today, the council handles both national and international non-governmental organizations.
The SWC, which once used to be chaired by the queen and was considered very influential, is now gradually losing its powers and autonomy, especially after the Oli government decided to bring it under the prime minister’s office.
The government housed the office of the vice-president at Bahadur Bhawan after the country abolished monarchy in 2008. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs at Shital Niwas, Maharajgunj was vacated to serve as the office and residence of the president.
Also, King Birendra’s Narayanhiti Palace has been turned into a national museum. Other royal residences in different parts of the country—such as Diyalo Bangala in Chitwan and Ratna Mandir in Pokhara—have been left in a sorry state. Another royal residence constructed at Nagarjun hill was damaged in the 2015 earthquakes.