DHANGADHI, Oct 3: In 1981, King Birendra demarcated Nepal's nine districts of the farthest west as 'Far-western Development Region' and set Dipayal as its headquarters. Locals of the district were confident that the district would continue being provincial capital under the federal model as the provincial demarcation retained the districts of the former development region.
However, the government led by Sher Bahadur Deuba declared Dhangadhi as its temporary provincial capital, provoking strong protests from the locals of Dipayal. Yet, the residents hoped that Dipayal would be named the province's permanent capital. That hope too was dashed after a special committee led by provincial lawmaker Tara Lama Tamang, which was formed to determine the most suitable name and permanent capital, made a different proposal.
As per the proposal of the committee, the permanent capital of the province was declared as Godawari of Kailali. The decision not only upset Dipayal, but also other contenders including Dadeldhura and Dhangadhi.
Now there is strong pressure from all sides to reconsider the decision on permanent capital.
“I think they should not have changed the capital from Dipayal to Dhangadhi in the first place,” said Dr Hemraj Panta. “Now after making huge investments in physical infrastructures for the capital in Dhangadhi, they want to move the capital to a forested area in Godawari, which does not make sense.”
Surat Rawat, a local of Dipayal, expressed his dissatisfaction over the name of the province. “There were many names that could give unique identity to our province. Yet, they chose a name that portrays us in a bad light, as an underdeveloped and poverty-stricken province.”
Locals lamented that provincial capital and name have been decided to serve vested interests.