-Govt to revise new terms of reference at next cabinet
-Commission flexible on number of units
KATHMANDU, Oct 4: Major political parties have backed away from their previous decision to take the existing ilaka as the main basis for restructuring local units under the new federal setup, following criticism from various quarters.
After members of the commission formed to fix the number and boundaries of local units accused the political parties of trying to interfere with its independence in directing it to make the ilaka the main basis, the party leaders on Monday decided not to give continuity to new changes made with regard to restructuring the local units.
As per an understanding reached earlier among the three major political parties, the government last week decided to ask the commission to delineate local units with the ilaka as the main basis.
As per this criterion, there will be around 900 local units whereas the commission had earlier proposed 565 units. Each ilaka comprises four to five VDCs, making for over 900 ilakas in the country.
On Monday, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal held a meeting with senior leaders of the major parties and Balananda Poudel, chairman of the local restructuring commission, to discussed the new terms of reference (ToR) given to the commission by the government.
During the meeting, Chairman Poudel informed Prime Minister Dahal and the party leaders that the commission can take the ilaka only as a reference point rather than as the main basis as the new Constitution has already prescribed various criteria for restructuring local bodies, informed Sunil Ranjan Singh, a member of the commission. NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba and CPN-UML Vice-chairman Bhim Rawal were also present at the meeting.
"After that, the major political parties backed away from their previous understanding and agreed to change the new (ToR) given to the commission. So now the ilaka will not be the main basis while delineating local units," Singh added.
Singh even filed a writ petition at the Supreme Court last week saying that the government decision to issue a new ToR encroached on the independence of the commission, thereby breaching constitutional provisions regarding the commission.
Similarly, the Madhes-based political parties and the opposition Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal (RPP-N) have also strongly objected to the ilaka as the main basis for local units.
Singh informed that major party leaders have agreed to change the provisions of the ToR to keep the existing municipalities intact. Members of the commission had objected to these provisions also, saying these ignore the commission's independence in fixing the number of local units.
Singh said the major parties decided to back away from their decision after the commission said it can increase the number of local units.
"The commission has said that it will find a middle way solution after party leaders pressed for increasing the number," he said adding, "The number of local units will be between 565 and 900" .
Govinda Acharya, press advisor to the prime minister, said that the government will change the provisions in the ToR that contradict the new Constitution. He said that the upcoming cabinet meeting will take a decision on the matter.
Prime Minister Dahal also decided to extend the deadline for the commission to submit its report by one month. The government had asked it to submit the report by mid-October so that it can hold the local polls by mid-April, 2017.
But after the commission said it would need more than one month to submit its report because of the changes in its ToR, Dahal extended the deadline.