BIRATNAGAR, Aug 4: The very local representatives who were elected after promising to serve their constituencies are currently busy only serving themselves. While villages lack ambulances and other basic necessities, the local representatives are spending the taxpayers' money lavishly to fulfill their own selfish needs, such as cars and other luxuries.
Most of the hilly villages of Province 1 lack reliable health facilities. If the villagers need the service of specialized doctors, they either have to go to the district headquarters or tarai. There are dozens of local units in such pitiful condition and thousands of residents struggle for basic services.
Ironically, most of the recently elected representatives have already purchased expensive cars and other luxuries for themselves. They have taken a disappointing U-turn from their pledge to work in favor of local communities.
Meringden Rural Municipality of Taplejung is one such representative local unit. Its villages do not have a single ambulance for local people. Yet, the local unit allocated Rs 6 million to purchase Scorpio SUV for the rural municipality chief.
While tens of millions of rupees are spent on luxury vehicles for the local representatives, the general public lacks even an ambulance, a fire engine, and a vehicle to transport dead bodies, among others. There is nothing when locals become victim of accidents and natural disasters.
Not satisfied with only chief getting vehicles, some local units are proposing plans to purchase one motorcycle for each employee. On the other hand, instead of getting new and improved facilities, the public are forced to pay increased taxes, which is likely to be spent only on luxuries of the office-bearers of the local units and the provincial government.
Ilam has four municipalities and six rural municipalities, but only two municipalities have one fire engine each. The remaining local units neither have a fire engine, nor an ambulance nor a vehicle to transport dead bodies.
Mayor of Ilam already has a vehicle which is only two years old. But the municipality has already initiated a tender process to purchase a new vehicle for him. “It could cost up to Rs 6 million for the mayor's new vehicle,” said an employee of the municipality.
Likewise, Rs 4 million was spent to purchase vehicle for deputy mayor of Ilam. The municipality is also in the process to purchase seven motorcycles, costing Rs 1.7 million in total, to local representatives and employees. The municipality also spends Rs 35,000 to Rs 100,000 for fuel.
On the other hand, the municipality only has one fire engine and does not have a single ambulance or vehicle to carry dead bodies. “As of now, we do not have any plan to purchase ambulance or a vehicle to carry dead bodies,” said Ram Kumar Shah, administrative officer of the municipality.
The situation is similar in Panchthar. When common people of Falelung Rural Municipality become sick, their families are forced to take them to health institutes by carrying them on their backs. While the public do not have ambulance, the rural municipality chief travels in Scorpio vehicle that was bought with Rs 3.7 million. The neighboring Hilihang Rural Municipality has the same plight but the chief there travels around in a vehicle which cost Rs 5 million.
Local units in many other districts including Taplejung and Jhapa too have similar situations. Although the local units already have old vehicles, mayors and chiefs are buying new vehicles, ignoring the day-to-day plights faced by their people.