Local units in Jajarkot prioritise road construction over other sectorsGenuine and sensitive issues are being ignored because most local units equate development with roads.
The local governments in Jajarkot, a hill district in Karnali Province, constructed 216 kilometres of road in the past two years. During a meeting organised by the District Coordination Committee last week, all seven local units in the district presented their reports on development activities. Their reports showed that the local units had spent approximately Rs 400 million to open tracks of around four dozen roads in the district since the country was federated in 2017.
However, the district’s residents complain that the local representatives have solely prioritised the construction of roads while ignoring other sectors such as social security, health, education, communication, agriculture, good governance and poverty alleviation.
“The recently opened tracks are not motorable. They do nothing to add value to our lives. These projects have only destroyed our forests,” said Ram Bahadur Singh, a local of Kushe. “Most of the tracks have been opened without proper geophysical and environmental surveys, leaving the areas prone to landslides.”
The District Coordination Committee agrees with the locals. It also concurs with the fact that haphazard construction has damaged arable lands and forests in the district.
“A huge amount of budget was spent to pay fare and fuel to the dozers used in the road construction. The villagers did not receive employment nor did the opened tracks improve their lifestyle since they remain unmotorable,” said Mana Bahadur Rawal, coordinator of the DCC.
According to Rawal, genuine and sensitive issues like shortage of food in remote villages, unemployment and poverty are being ignored because most local units equate development with roads.
“Only dozers can run on the newly opened tracks. Some tracks were dug just to provide work opportunity to the dozer owners,” said Singh.
Based on the reports presented during the District Coordination Committee’s meeting, Kushe Rural Municipality alone constructed 142 km roads in the past two years. Hari Chandra Basnet, chairman of the local unit, claimed that his office prioritised road construction, as it was the base of other infrastructure development.
“We opened the tracks to connect all nine wards with a road network. We will gradually give priority to other sectors,” said Basnet.
The District Coordination Committee has urged the local governments to equally prioritise other development sectors while allocating budget. Rawal suggested spending around 60 percent of the budget on infrastructure development and 40 percent on health, education and social security, among other areas.