DHANGADHI, Sept 30: An indefinite general strike has been imposed in Dhanghadhi since Saturday against the decision of the provincial assembly to name Province 7 as Far-western and establish its permanent capital in Godavari.
The strike was imposed by the Dhangadhi Civil Society Struggle Committee. Industries, markets, transportation and business organizations remained shut the whole day following the strike. Migrant Nepali workers returning home from various places of India have been stranded as both short- and long-distance public vehicles have kept off the road due to the strike in the district.
Hari Regmi of the struggle committee said that the decision to shift the capital to a jungle from Dhangadhi was made under the influence of forest and land mafia. "Construction of infrastructures by destroying forest will cost billions of rupees to the state coffers meant for development. This will obstruct the development process of the province and we can't let that happen," said Regmi, adding, "We have no objection against the choice of the place but what about the infrastructures already built in Dhangadhi?"
According to Nepali Congress leader Narayan Bhatta, the province will have to spend a huge amount of budget for the construction of infrastructures, which will result in poverty, unemployment and backwardness of the province. "We won't accept this decision which was taken without the consent of the opposition parties," said Bhatta. He informed Republica that they would continue the protest until they receive next notice. He said they might not continue the general strike but will not stop staging other kinds of protests.
Protesters imposed the strike from early morning Saturday. They also organized a motorcycle procession as a part of the protest. Security was tightened in the district to prevent any untoward incident. Police arrested locals Raj Bahadur Chaudhary and Ram Chaudhary who were found instructing the rickshaw pullers not to operate their vehicles. However, they were released an hour later.
The provincial assembly passed the decision to fix the capital and name the province with a two-thirds majority. The members of Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) and Nepali Congress (NC) boycotted the decision stating it will cost billions of rupees to the state coffers. However, 28 members from the ruling parties had voted in favor of the proposal.
Locals living in hill districts have been disappointed with the decision, as they wanted Dipayal or Dadeldhura to be named the capital. According to the locals, shifting the provincial capital to the tarai will leave the hilly region backward and will convert tarai, the granary of the country, into dense settlements. Even Tharu leaders who participated in the Madhes movement are in favor of fixing the provincial capital in a hill district.
Leaders of opposition parties in Kanchanpur, Dadeldhura, Dhangadhi among others have widely criticized the decision of the provincial assembly in social media.