KATHMANDU, Sept 27: Officials of the commission formed to fix the number and boundaries of local bodies have said that the commission will not be able to submit its report to the government by mid-March, 2017 if it has to begin the task of local body restructuring from scratch.
"The government is yet to formally inform us about the political understanding reached between the major parties on local units. But if ilakas will be taken as the basis, the commission will have to begin its work afresh and it will not be able to submit its report even by mid-March, 2017," Sunil Ranjan Singh, member of the commission, told Republica.
Mid-March 2017 is the final deadline for the commission to submit its report to the government as the tenure of the commission expires by then.
Leaders from the three major political parties on Sunday reached an understanding to take ilakas as the basis for restructuring the local units in the new federal setup.
There were over 900 ilakas in the past and each ilaka is made up of 4 to 5 VDCs.
Singh said that the commission has already completed its task by 66 per cent and is making necessary preparations to submit its report to the government by mid-October as requested by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal.
Dahal had asked the commission to expedite its task and submit its report by mid-Ocboter so that the government can hold local polls by mid-April, 2017.
According to the officials of the commission, as many as 50 districts have already submitted their reports and other remaining 25 districts are about to submit their reports in a couple of days.
Singh said that the political understanding reached among the major political parties to change the standards for delineating local units was just a conspiracy to delay the local polls.
Even if the commission manages to submit its report by mid-March, 2017, the local polls can be held by mid-September as the Election Commission has already said it would need at least six months to hold local polls after the submission of the report.
"The government held talks with political parties without including representatives of the commission and reached an understanding to make ilakas as basis for local body restructuring, which clearly shows that the governmet is trying to interfere in the commission's activities. If the government gives a new terms of reference (ToR) making ilakas as basis for restructuring, it will be unacceptable to the commission," he said.
He said that it will be unconstitutional if the government directs the commission to fix the local bodies as per their proposal.
Another member of the commission, Madhav Adhikari, said that the commission will carry out its task as mandated by the constitution rather than as per any political understandings.
"We can take the political understanding as a reference for restructuring the local bodies but it is not legally binding for us to follow such decisions. If the political parties decide to increase the number of local units, all the works done so far by the commission will be useless," he said, adding that the commission will not be able to complete its task by mid-March, 2017.
The commission has proposed creating altogether 565 village councils and municipalities under the new federal setup while the ruling Nepali Congress and CPN (Maoist Centre) have called for creation of over 900 local units arguing that government services cannot be delivered at people's doorsteps if local units are fewer in numbers.