JANAKPUR, June 26: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a grant of Rs 1 billion Indian currency for the development of Janakpur Sub-metropolitan City during a visit to the city in May 2018. Almost 13 months later, the grant for developing this major destination for Hindu pilgrims looks less likely to come through any time soon.
A bitter row between Janakpur Sub-metropolitan City and the Broader Janakpur Area Development Council over which should take the lead in handling the grant is blamed for the delay.
The Indian prime minister had flown directly into Janakpur on May 11, 2018 on his third visit to Nepal since 2014. After offering worship at the Janaki Temple, Modi addressed a grand civic reception organized at local Barha Bigha Grounds. On the occasion, he announced a grant of one billion Indian rupees for infrastructure development at Janaki Temple and Janakpur city as a whole.
But there is still no clarity which body is supposed to do the detailed planning for using the amount and implement the project on the ground.
Indian embassy sources said they have not received any project proposal from the government of Nepal. The grant amount would be released immediately once they receive a project proposal through the government.
Both Janakpur Sub-Metropolitan City and the Broader Janakpur Area Development Council have started lobbying separately for the Indian grant, leaving the embassy officials in a fix.
A ward chairman of Janakpur Sub-metropolitan City said as both bodies started lobbying for the money, the Indian embassy has maintained its silence. “It is unfortunate that funds which could transform entire Janakpur have fallen into uncertainty due to failure on the part of the mayor of Janakpur and the chairperson of Janakpur Area Development Council to hold even simple discussions on the issue,” the ward chairman told Republica on condition of anonymity.
Janakpur Mayor Lal Kishor Sah said they have already held two broad discussions. Sah complained that although the sub-metropolis submitted a proposal to build a state-of-the-art International Ram Sita Convention Hall some four months ago, the Indian embassy in Kathmandu had not paid any attention to it.
However, Janakpur Area Development Council Chairperson Shaligram Singh alleged that the unilateral move by the sub-metropolis to coordinate the grant had made the funds uncertain. “In the last 13 months, I called a meeting of the council seven times. But the mayor neither attended the meeting nor sent any representative,” he said, accusing the mayor of not extending any cooperation.
Mayor Sah, for his part, said that since there are already three tiers of government in place, the Janakpur Area Development Council could not be the official agency for handing the grant funds.
“We are supposed to coordinate with the provincial and federal governments and we are currently doing just that,” he said. “There is no role for the Janakpur Area Development Council in all this.”
While Sah said that they are in constant touch with the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration to submit a proposal to the Indian embassy, officials at Janakpur Area Development Council said they are working separately to submit another proposal, with an outlay of Rs 1.25 billion, via the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation within a week.