ILAM, Nov 25: Suryodaya Municipality of Ilam is one the biggest towns in the eastern hilly region. The municipality with 56,691 populations is also known as one of the best tourist destinations in the region. It boasts of thrilling locations like Antudanda, Kanyam, Pashupatinagar and Fikkal. Republica recently caught up with its mayor, Rana Bahadur Rai and discussed its march towards prosperity and development.
It’s been two and a half year since you assumed the position of this municipality’s mayor. How are things?
Following the federal set up and decentralization, people were quite hopeful that positive changes would be coming their way. I feel that I have done justice to my job. There are changes that everyone can see. I am confident that the days ahead would be even more exciting in terms of development and prosperity.
Could you please focus on the journey of this municipality towards prosperity?
We introduced major programs for improving health, education, employment status in the municipality. These programs are presently in their implementation phase. Schools have started to provide better results. People are getting better health facilities. We have taken special care of our elder citizens; they are taken for outing once a year for free.
Farmers have been encouraged by introducing various different schemes. Means for increasing productivity and marketing their produce are being developed and implemented. Poor people have been provided with means of livelihood. These are some of instances of how this municipality is seeing better time than the past.
Are there any entirely new plans, programs that you have prepared and implemented?
Our motto is sustainable development. For this, we are open to adopt any kind of programs that promise to deliver on fulfilling our objective. We are working with the stated vision to establish this place as one of the best places in the country.
For endangered communities, for marginalized groups, we have separate plans. Our municipality is going ahead also in terms researching implication and implementation of advances made in the field of bio-engineering.
We are trying hard to make our tea business more profitable. For this we have set up necessary infrastructures and expedited work on it. We have also focused on creating employment opportunities for unemployed youths. In the next three years, we are hopeful that our municipality’s economy will thrive and it will be a great place to live.
Local bodies have been shifting to digitization. What is Suryodaya Municipality’s status?
Yes, we are also getting rid of paper documentation. Soon, we will handle everything through digital technology. For this, we have been providing necessary trainings to employees.
Highways and roads are also people’s concern. How’s the municipality faring in this area?
Yes, one of the most prioritized sectors is transportation. There are many roads under construction. Some are being repaired and widened. In the next three years, people will see a paradigm shift in the transportation sector. Similarly, we are also adopting modern farming practices. This adoption is expected to increase youths’ involvement in the agriculture sector and reduce flow of youngsters to foreign countries for employment. We are working seriously for achieving these goals.
Upon being mayor of the municipality, you announced that this place would be the best municipality in the country. So, where do you think this municipality stands now?
Yes, I remember that. I said I would make it the best municipality in five years. So, we still have half the time. We are going in the right direction and we will be able to achieve the desired success in the time to come. Our programs for drinking water, irrigation, hospitals, schools, life insurance etc are being implemented not just in towns but also in rural parts. If we can bring smile in the face of poorest ones, that would be the indicator of our success. We believe in inclusion, equality and sustainable development.
What additional plans have been introduced to boost tourism?
We are very lucky in terms of natural beauty. This place has a number of remarkable tourist destinations. We have set some specific targets Visit Nepal 2020. We are going to organize four-day Suryodaya Tourism Fair next week. We have been working very closely with various tourism sector actors to make it effective.
We expect to bring millions of tourists in 2020 in Antudanda, Kanyam, Fikkal, Pashupantinagar among other areas. And we believe that the event will make those places even more popular among tourists.
Are people happy with the progress this municipality is making?
We believe that they are happy, though they might have more expectations. Unlike earlier, they can come and talk to the authorities concerned directly as we are available all the time. It is our duty to involve people in preparing and implementing plans and programs.