Bhaktapur: A Shining Example for 752 Local Govts

Published On: May 22, 2023 07:47 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

In the ancient city of Bhaktapur, a remarkable transformation is underway—a blend of tradition and innovation, paving the way for vibrant growth. While the Bhairab Rath of Bhaktapur has been garaged after the Biska Jatra, the chariot of development continues to parade through the Island of Goodness. Bhaktapur Municipality has set itself apart by charting a unique path towards development. The municipality has achieved remarkable progress and offers invaluable lessons for the remaining 752 local governments across the nation.

What sets Bhaktapur Municipality apart is its ability to blend traditional knowledge with modern education. It recognizes that building a great city requires not only preserving ancient culture and art but also introducing innovative development practices. By prioritizing small yet meaningful initiatives, the municipality has won the hearts of its people. From establishing a hospital and public gyms to bringing banking services to the doorsteps of senior citizens, Bhaktapur Municipality addresses the overlooked needs of its residents, ensuring their well-being and convenience. Unlike many other cities that rely on the central government for development, Bhaktapur has been self-reliant, using its own income to progress independently.

Tourism has been the primary source of income for Bhaktapur, and the city has harnessed this revenue to fund its development. Even during the challenging times of the Covid-19 pandemic, when tourists were scarce, the municipality continued its progress through public donations and alternative sources of income. Remarkably, when employees of other cities were resting during the lockdown, Bhaktapur's employees were on the frontlines, ensuring the health and safety of its residents.

Bhaktapur Municipality's achievements span across various sectors, with notable progress in education, health, and heritage preservation. One of the hallmarks of Bhaktapur's accomplishments is its commitment to providing affordable and quality education. With eight educational institutions, including two engineering colleges and the recently authorized 'Khwopa College of Law,' Bhaktapur has become an engineering hub and a beacon of higher education. Approximately 7,000 students from 72 districts are enrolled in these institutions, fostering a new generation that is well-equipped to tackle future challenges while valuing the dignity of labor. Similarly, in terms of health, Bhaktapur Municipality has made significant strides. It obtained permission to build a 100-bed hospital and has provided crucial health services to thousands of patients from various districts. The municipality operates public health centers, offers nursing services at doorsteps, and collaborates with specialized institutions to enhance healthcare provision. By addressing both physical and mental health needs, Bhaktapur ensures the well-being of its citizens.

Bhaktapur also excels in preserving its cultural heritage. Despite being devastated by the 2015 earthquake, the municipality has successfully restored and rebuilt numerous temples, ponds, wells, and stone spouts. This restoration work has been carried out with the active participation of local citizens and traditional experts, showcasing the municipality's commitment to self-reliance and preserving its heritage. Bhaktapur prioritizes the transmission of traditional skills to the younger generation, ensuring the continuity of ancient crafts and construction techniques. The municipality's stringent building standards and campaigns to build houses in the traditional way further contribute to the preservation of its unique architectural identity.

The municipality's commitment to economic empowerment and employment generation is commendable. In the face of agricultural challenges resulting from urbanization, Bhaktapur has proactively sought alternative income sources for its citizens. It has provided training programs in various trades and languages, such as carpentry, plumbing, photography, and Chinese, catering to the growing tourism sector. By nurturing these skills, Bhaktapur has empowered its residents to seize opportunities in diverse industries, ensuring self-sustainability and a brighter future for its people.

Bhaktapur's exceptional display of religious harmony is a testament to its inclusive and accepting spirit. Buddhists and Hindus have coexisted in mutual respect and affection for centuries, fostering an environment of brotherhood. This harmonious coexistence extends beyond these two faiths and encompasses all religious sects within the region. So, at the heart of Bhaktapur's success lies the unity and collective support of its citizens. Mayor Sunil Prajapati humbly acknowledges the role of the townspeople, stating, "We have taken a step forward with the common sense of the citizens. A crowd that is ready to push the chariot of development was formed." This collective spirit has allowed Bhaktapur to embrace a unique approach to development, focusing on the neglected aspects that other cities overlook.

Therefore, it appears safe to state that in the realm of local governance, Bhaktapur Municipality stands as a shining example of innovation, resilience, and unparalleled development. Led by the visionary Mayor Sunil Prajapati, this ancient city has harnessed the power of tradition and blended it with modern education and practices to create a vibrant model of progress. We believe that with its remarkable achievements in various sectors, Bhaktapur Municipality serves as a treasure trove of lessons for the remaining 752 local governments across the country.

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