TEGHARI (Kailali), Sept 29: It has been exactly one year since the Provincial Assembly here announced the province’s name as Sudur Paschim Province and also decided the capital.
Sudur Paschim Province, earlier known as Province 7, has widely accepted the new name, but the province has not done anything tangible to develop Teghari area as the provincial capital as per the declaration of the Provincial Assembly.
The ruling party that has two-thirds majority in the province declared Teghari as the provincial capital amidst protest by opposition party lawmakers. However, the provincial government hasn’t made any progress in this regard even a year after the declaration.
Government officials say they haven’t been able to make any progress as the central government hasn’t authorized them to clear the forest in the proposed capital for developing it into a new city.
A cabinet meeting of the provincial government on February 3 decided to seek the federal government’s support in this connection and wrote a letter to the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers (OPMCM) asking it to authorize them to use the land. But the federal government has not granted the provincial government the rights to plot the forest land so far.
“We have been unable to make any progress as the federal government hasn’t given us the right to use that land,” said Jhapat Rawal, minister for financial affairs.
He said that they would carry out the feasibility study and demarcate the area immediately after the federal government gives them the right to clear the forest area.
According to him, the provincial government has allocated Rs 50 million to develop basic infrastructure such as walls and embankment of the new city.
“We can allocate additional budget,” he said. “But the forest ministry of the federal government has blocked the document related clearing the forest area.”
A section of people have been vociferously protesting against the decision of the Provincial Assembly to develop Teghari as the provincial capital saying that it would destroy the bio diversity of the place that lies on the foothills of Chure and Bhawar range.
Case sub-judice in Supreme Court
Lawyers Devi Kumari Joshi and Manish Kumar Shrestha have filed a petition at the Supreme Court arguing that developing the Teghari forest area as the capital would destroy bio-diversity, degrade the Chure range and eventually dry up the underground water reservoir in the area.
They have demanded that an alternative place should be sought for the provincial capital to save the area of ecological importance.
Though the provincial assembly has the right to declare its capital, an alternative place should be sought to protect important natural resources at Teghari, said lawyer Bheshraj Pant, who has been pleading at the court demanding change of the capital.
“The issue of developing the capital has now become uncertain as the case is sub-judice,” said Jagadish Joshi, information officer at the Office of the Chief Minister and Council of Ministers of the province.
Lawyer Bheshraj Panta argued that it is the duty of the government to protect the Teghari forest area as it is an important place not only from national point of view but also from international perspective.
The then Sher Bahadur Deuba-led government had fixed Dhangadhi as the temporary capital of Province 7 as the Provincial Assembly is the body to fix the permanent capital.
Due to controversy over the proposed location for the permanent capital, all the provincial offices are still at the temporary capital Dhangadhi.
As of now, other four provinces such as Province 1, Province 2, Province 3 and Province 5 haven’t been able to name their respective provinces and fix their permanent capitals.