Unfilled local government vacancies affect service delivery in KarnaliAs many as 81 posts of people’s representatives are currently vacant in eight districts of Karnali Province.
Service delivery and development activities have been hugely affected in several local units of Karnali Province, as the posts of people’s representatives in many districts remain vacant.
As many as 81 posts of people’s representatives are currently vacant in eight districts of the province besides Surkhet and Dailekh. According to the data available at the election office, the posts of one chairperson of a rural municipality, a deputy mayor of a municipality, six ward chiefs and 73 ward members of several other local bodies in the province are currently vacant. The representatives in some of the posts, mainly ward members, are yet to be elected while others have died, suspended on criminal charges or gone to foreign countries leaving their posts vacant.
“The deputy mayor of our municipality has not come to her office for more than a year. In her absence, we had a hard time settling a dispute between my daughter and a neighbour,” said Khagisara Karki of Tilagupha Municipality in Kalikot district. “Though there are other people in the judicial committee of the municipality, it would be easier to share our grievances to the deputy mayor, a female people’s representative.”
There is a constitutional provision of the judicial committee in each local unit headed by the deputy mayor or vice-chairperson. The committee has the authority to settle minor disputes, except for criminal ones, at the local level.
Danta Nepali, the deputy mayor of Tilagupha, along with other people’s representatives had gone to the USA some 15 months ago to attend a programme. The other representatives are already back in the country but she has yet to return.
“Nepali has been out of contact for the past year. The service delivery, day to day administrative works and the development activities have been affected due to her absence,” said Ratna Bahadur Shahi, the mayor of Tilagupha Municipality. According to him, the deputy mayor leads 13 important committees, including the judicial committee, planning and monitoring committee, budget implementation and supervision committee.
In Jajarkot, Chairman of Junichande Rural Municipality Krishna Bahadur KC and Chairman of Ward No. 5 Raj Bahadur Shahi were suspended in February on corruption charges. Security personnel had detained them red-handed with Rs 800,000 bribe amount. The post of ward chief in Junichande-11 is also vacant after the chief passed away last year.
Dolpa, the most remote mountain district of Karnali, has the highest number of vacant posts of people’s representatives. Thirty posts in the district are currently vacant. Most of the vacant posts are of Dalit women members at the ward level. Each ward, in accordance with the present constitution of Nepal, has the provision of at least one woman member and one Dalit woman member. According to the election office in Dolpa, the posts remain vacant since Dalit women could not be elected during the local level elections in 2017, as some wards do not have Dalit population.
Similarly, 22 and 11 posts of the people’s representatives are vacant in Jumla and Mugu districts respectively. The figure is six in Jajarkot and five in Kalikot.
As per the existing legal provision, the government should hold by-elections to elect representatives in the vacant posts. Humla and Salyan districts in 2019 held by-elections to elect representatives in two vacant posts.
At least 45 people’s representatives are elected in each rural municipality while the number is 55 in each municipality.
Advocate Durga Prasad Sapkota suggested that by-elections should be held to elect people’s representatives in place of those who died or resigned. The service delivery and development activities are hampered in the absence of the people’s representatives, he said.