February 27, 2019 03:00 AM NPT
By: Suman Malla
MUGU, Feb 27: The newly-adopted federalism gives priority to infrastructure development projects including road construction. However, the excessive use of heavy equipment including dozers and excavators in development projects has hurt the prospects of eradicating poverty, according to the stakeholders.
Locals of Mugu had excitedly welcomed federalism as it promised to directly involve them in the development of their own community. Although road construction received priority, the locals are deprived of employment opportunities from such projects as contractors mobilize minimum human resources, choosing to use heavy equipment for majority of the work.“Locals are deprived of employment opportunities.
Those dependent on daily wages are struggling to provide their family two times meal a day,” said provincial assembly member of Karnali Chandra Bahadur Shahi. While addressing the third village council meeting of Soru Rural Municipality, Shahi expressed concern over the rampant use of dozers and requested the local unit to prioritize human laborers.
Soru is among the many local units which have prioritized road connection under their 'Rural Access Program'. It plans to connect Gamgadhi, the district headquarters, through road.“We should build roads. However, it is sad to see that the road projects are playing roles to further impoverish the poor people,” said Manju Kari, a local of Soru-3. “It makes us very difficult to get jobs locally. This is the reason why we are forced to go for foreign employment,” she added.
Manju further accused cadres of the local representatives and political parties of being involved in the rampant use of heavy equipment, depriving the communities of employment opportunities. For instance, dozers and excavators belonging to ward-7 chair Rajendra Bhumi and ward member Karnajunga Shahi are being used in road construction.
Chairman of Soru, Lok Bahadur Shahi defended the use of heavy equipment saying that mobilization of human resources would slow down road construction and affect quality. However, the local unit seems to be paying more for heavy equipment. Nepal Army was paid Rs 5,800 per hour for the use of heavy equipment on the Hilsa road of Humla. Meanwhile, Soru Rural Municipality is paying Rs 10,000 per hour for the same work. The rural municipality spent Rs 30 million in road construction alone during the last fiscal year.