People walk through a road being widened in Rajedevi Municipality of Rautahat in this recent picture. Photo: Madan Thakur
RAUTAHAT, June 23: As the current fiscal year is near about to end, authorities in towns and villages are in a huge rush to complete developmental projects. To prevent freezing of project budget, last-minute implementation of development projects, commonly referred to as ‘Asare bikas,’ is taking place in several areas of Rautahat district.
Rajedevi Municipality of Rautahat has sped up widening of its main and sub-roads. Works on over a dozen of roads have been started. And this has disturbed the locals.
“Authorities are not working with a proper plan or system. They always wait until Asar (mid-June - to mid-July) to implement development projects. This is not good,” said Bijaya Kishore Jha, secretary of Nagarik Samaj Rautahat. “They recently started widening roads, and this has created a lot of inconvenience for the locals. On top of that, how can they deliver quality work by working in the last hour in such a rush?”
Widening of the roads has displaced the families that had homes on the side of these roads. Houses, cottages, and small eateries have been damaged. Although the demarcation for the widening of the roads was done earlier, people had continued occupying the space in lack of government intervention. And now the sudden use of dozers to pull down those infrastructures has created chaos.
According to Jha, the lack of communication between the government authorities and the locals has led to the problem. If the plans were discussed on time and communicated with the stakeholders, people would have time to relocate their business and families, he argued.
The widening of the roads has bothered not only the people who were illegally occupying the roadsides but also many legal owners of land and houses in the area. Dust from the streets have been pilling up in their home, and as soon as it rains, the roads become too muddy to get through.
Working on developmental projects in full speed toward the end of the fiscal year is a long stood trend. This not only causes inconvenience to locals but also results in shoddy quality work. However, the authorities do not seem to correct this.
Ishnath Municipality is also getting ahead with several such works. The municipality office is even facing hassles as locals have refused to cooperate. Around Auraiya bazaar, locals are resisting the widening of the roads.
Another municipality, Madav Narayan Municipality, is quite busy plastering roads. People comment that the municipality is working on a war footing. The local government is now repairing over half a dozen roads.
Brindaban Municipality has followed these footsteps too. Several wards of the municipality are busy widening and blacktopping its roads.
As the roads are being blacktopped during monsoon, locals opine that they don’t expect the blacktopping to last long. However, works are going on in full speed on those roads. According to a ward member, the trend cannot be changed easily. Requesting anonymity, he said that the lack of the release of budget on time is one of the reasons why such works are done only toward the end of the fiscal year.
“Quality of the work is indeed affected when such important works are rushed and competed for the sake of fiscal adjustments. But it has been so for a long time,” he noted.
According to another ward member of the municipality, Subodh Jha, some projects are yet to be implemented due to disputes. “It is unfortunate that we have not been able to settle disputes and implement some of the development projects even at the end of the fiscal year. Such projects can be implemented only after the issues are solved,” he said.
However, the Mayor of Gadhimai Municipality, Shyam Prasad Yadav, said that all developmental works are not rushed toward the end of the fiscal year. “All development projects are not implemented hurriedly toward the end of the fiscal year. Only a few are implemented toward the end of the fiscal year due to the delays made by the federal and provincial government in releasing the budget for the projects. We cannot implement projects if we don’t get the budget,” he said.
Meanwhile, stating that ‘the drama of Asare Bikash’ should be ended, Jha opined that Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) should take notice of this. “CIAA must monitor corruption related to Asare Bikash. This trend should come to an end,” he said. He added that such a poor way of handling developmental projects did not change in the country though it witnessed several political changes. “We ousted monarchy and established a republic. But we are yet to change our way of thinking and our way of working,” he added.