RAMPUR (PALPA), March 28: CPN-UML representatives boycotted the municipal council meeting of Rampur Municipality in Palpa district as a sign of protest against the unilateral decision of Mayor Raman Bahadur Thapa and his team in selecting development programs and reallocation of budget.
Thapa was elected mayor in the local body election held on June 28 from the Nepali Congress (NC). NC has majority seats in the municipality including the mayor, deputy mayor and six ward chairpersons. Out of 52 elected representatives in the municipality, 21 including six ward chairs and members are from the CPN-UML.
The municipal council meeting scheduled for March 23 was rescheduled for March 26 due to objection from the elected representatives. However, the meeting was held on Monday without the presence of the elected representatives from CPN-UML.
Lila Gaha, chairman of Ward No 10, said that the council meeting was scheduled to distribute unused allocated budget of the current fiscal year. "Rs 74 million remained unused. So the council was called to reallocate the budget for other programs. But Mayor Thapa and his team did not listen to us while selecting the programs," said Gaha. "So we all boycotted the meeting," he added.
The municipal council had prepared an estimated budget of Rs 490 million including over Rs 360 million government grants for the current fiscal year.
Mayor Thapa said that they approved the reallocation of budget from the majority of members. "We have included their demands and decided to reallocate the budget as per priority," said Thapa. "The meeting will not be called again."
Mayor Thapa has been accused of doling out taxpayers' money to 10 wards without endorsing the budget from the municipal assembly and distributing perks and allowances illegally to his team members.
Mayor Thapa, who is the owner of Bhirkotkali Overseas Pvt Ltd, Kalanki in Kathmandu and Subidha Construction Pvt Ltd, owns 10 bulldozers and excavators, which are being deployed in the construction works including roads in the municipality. Thapa bought a bus with registration number Lu 2 Kha 1643 three months after he was elected mayor.
His company-Subidha Construction Pvt Ltd-has been granted several road construction projects for which he receives payment himself. Those who are against Thapa argue that he should not assume dual role as a contractor and an elected representative simultaneously. Mayor Thapa is also allegedly working against the laws of the country by opening roads in private lands without paying compensation to the land owners.
Mayor Thapa was subcontracted to construct Rampur (Palpa)-Damachaur (Syangja) motorable bridge over the Kaligandaki river. Elite SBA JV of Kapan in Kathmandu won the contract worth Rs 156.8 million to construct the 181m bridge through a bidding process in 2011 and handed it over to Thapa. The contractor had signed the agreement to complete the work within two years but nothing has been done yet.