KATHMANDU, Dec 10: Currently, there is no departmental minister and forest secretary at the Ministry of Forests. Similarly, the head of three divisions at the ministry are currently on a foreign tour. This has left the forest ministry vacant at present.
After Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP) broke away from the ruling coalition and aligned with CPN-UML during the election, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba removed four ministers belonging to the JSP from the government on October 13. At that time JSP leader Pradeep Yadav was the Forest Minister. Since October 13, there has been no minister at the ministry. Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba is himself taking charge of the ministry.
The post of Forest Secretary is also vacant after the forced retirement of the Forest Secretary Pem Narayan Kandel on November 29. Senior Joint Secretary at the ministry Shiva Wagle has been working as acting secretary.
Three Joint Secretaries at the Ministry have been visiting Canada since last November 30. Dhananjay Paudel, Divisional Head of Participatory Forest Division, Meghnath Kafle, Divisional Head of Biodiversity Division and Shiva Regmi, Divisional Chief of Administration, are currently on a foreign tour. Therefore, all key officials at the ministry are not available at the office.
There are six posts of joint secretary at the forest ministry. However, since three joint secretaries are abroad, there are only three joint secretaries –Shiva Wagle, Buddha Paudel and Dhirendra Pradhan– at the ministry.
Acting Secretary Wagle said that since the ministry does not have to make policy decisions, it is not difficult to work without a minister and secretary. "Since the election code of conduct is in place, the ministry does not have to make a policy decision. Therefore, there is not much difficulty in working even if there is no minister and secretary,” Wagle said.
The post of secretary has also been lying vacant at the Ministry of Urban Development since last November 21.With the then secretary Dr Ramesh Singh's retirement on the grounds of age, the post of Secretary is vacant. Joint Secretary Padam Mainali has been working as Acting Secretary.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defense has been without a minister for the past one year. Since the position is vacant, Prime Minister Deuba has taken charge of defense. Dr Minendra Rijal resigned from the post on December 16, 2021 after being defeated in the post of General Secretary of Nepali Congress (NC) in the party’s 14th General Convention.
Rijal submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Deuba immediately after the result of the election. At that time, Prime Minister Deuba kept the ministry for himself. Deuba, however, has not yet appointed a defense minister, nor does he visit the ministry to oversee things.