The under-construction maternity ward building of Gajendra Narayan Singh Sagarmatha Zonal Hospital in Rajbiraj. Jitendra Kumar Jha / Republica
RAJBIRAJ, March 25: Since 2007, no India-backed development project has been initiated in Saptari district. This is largely due to failure of the five India-backed projects in the district that were approved between 2005 and 2007.
Stranding of these nearly Rs 100 million-worth projects have been blamed on irregularities within contractors and consumer committees. Apart from that, the donor side has also accused District Development Committee and other government bodies of not showing concern towards completing projects funded by the Indian government, local officials claim.
“It is pretty obvious that the Indian Embassy has denied funding for new projects in the district as old ones that it funded remain in limbo,” said Ganga Ram Sah, an employee at the District Coordination Committee (DCC), Saptari. “I don't see any of the old projects completing. As such, it seems the Indian Embassy has blacklisted us and won't be willing to fund any new projects, unless the old ones are completed.”
At some point of time, Saptari was a high priority district for Indian projects. The Indian Embassy had shown keen interests to construct Rajbiraj-based Gajendra Narayan Singh Industrial Area, Zonal Hospital, various big and small irrigation projects, roads and other infrastructures. But everything changed after the district's poor performance in executing those projects.
If a donor agency funds a project but the stakeholders fail to utilize as they had committed to, they won't have positive impression. Such experience will definitely influence their decision on any future funding. -Badri Narayan Jha, a civil society leader
“If a donor agency funds a project but the stakeholders fail to utilize as they had committed to, they won't have positive impression. Such experience will definitely influence their decision on any future funding,” said Badri Narayan Jha, leader of Madhesi Civil Society. “For the same reason, the government bodies have to show serious concern on misuse of budgets in Saptari.”
The Indian Embassy in Kathmandu has expressed serious concerns for the incomplete projects in the district. Of late, the embassy has started to send its officials directly to the district to report on the status of these projects and if need be, to facilitate in completing these projects.
The embassy's concern is also evident by the fact that they have written to various political leaders and lawmakers of the district. The embassy has also publicly announced that the district would not get new projects until old projects are completed.
One of the projects of the embassy in the district was construction of a female hostel in Rajbiraj. The 56-room hostel is being built for one of the oldest campuses in the country, Mahendra Bindeshwar Multiple Campus. The hostel was supposed to complete 12 years ago. However, there are still uncertainties on when the project will complete. The project is worth Rs 10.96 million.
“Although over 80 percent of the works have been completed, we have not been able to handover the hostel due to negligence of construction committee and District Development Committee,” said Dr Sharbey Chandra Mishra, Chief of the campus.
Likewise, it has already been eight years since the deadline for the construction of maternity home at Rajbiraj-based Gajendra Narayan Singh Sagarmatha Zonal Hospital expired. Yet, nobody has idea on when the construction would complete. Local stakeholders have accused Indian Embassy, District Development Committee and other bodies for not showing interest in the completion of the project.
According to the hospital's administration, they have already written to District Development Committee and Ministry of Health. However, they said none of the government body has expressed any concern.
The project started in October 2007. It was supposed to complete by January 2010. However, not even 60 percent of the construction has completed so far. Diwa Narendra Udas Das JV had won the contract.
Under the project, which is worth around Rs 30 million, the contractor is supposed to construct two-storey building with 28 rooms. As of now, they are yet to add concrete in the second floor.
“The delay in construction of maternity ward has made the hospital's operation very difficult,” said Manoj Yadav, an employee at the hospital. “Our programs on maternity and child care have been largely affected,” he added.
Kunauli-Fattepur road section was black topped with help of the Indian Embassy. However, in less than a year, the blacktopped road is in very dilapidated state.
As per the contract, the contractor was supposed to blacktop 10 kilometers of the road section. However, the contractor hardly managed to blacktop even the half. Technicians of the District Development Committee accused the contractor for doing incomplete and poor quality work.
The project, which was worth Rs 3 million, was handed to Rajbiraj-based YP Dev and Share Bishalraj Sen Construction JV by the then District Development Committee on June 2006. The work was supposed to complete by June 2007. However, the contractor is yet to complete the blacktopping of the roads even to this day.
Situation of other India-funded projects in the district is in similar state. All of the five projects financed by Indian Embassy have remained incomplete in Saptari. However, no one is willing to take responsibility for the failure. The District Coordination Committee or the concerned ministries are all keeping mum instead of pushing for completing them.