Funds shortage impedes completion of Murma Model Village in MuguKarnali government started a programme to turn the remote village into a model village but failed to fund the project.
The Murma Model Village in Chhayanath Rara Municipality-9 in Mugu of Karnali Province lies in an incomplete state for a lack of budget.
The Karnali provincial government in the last fiscal year had started a programme to turn the remote village into a model village for the benefit of the locals and also to attract tourists who visit Rara.
The provincial government had released a budget of Rs 20 million for the programme through the Division Forest Office in the last fiscal year. But this year, the provincial government did not release any budget for the said programme.
Under the programme, 70 households in Murma received corrugated sheets, plastic water tanks, toilet panels and some bags of cement each.
Since the locals did not have wood panels to build toilets, the Division Forest Office, through the Syauli Forest Users Group, sanctioned the felling of 27 cubic feet of trees for each household. But the unplanned cutting of trees by the locals prompted the Rara National Park authorities to put a stop to tree felling in the area.
The Syauli Forest Users Group had decided to cut down at least 200 trees for the building of the model village.
“But the National Park said the locals were cutting down more trees than sanctioned so they put a complete ban on tree felling. Now the locals don’t even have enough wood for household purposes,” said Birkha Bahadur Rokaya, a local man.
Due to a shortage of resources, including wood, the locals have not been able to complete their houses, he said.
“The amount of wood sanctioned by the Division Forest Office was not even enough to build the doors and windows of the houses in the model village. We don’t have the required resources to complete the house or build a toilet,” said Dan Bahadur Rokaya, another local man. “There are at least five families who have not even received the raw materials to begin their houses’ construction.”
Out of the 70 households in the village, 40 have completed the construction of their houses by using corrugated sheets but none of them has been able to build toilets.
According to Badri Binod Dahal, conservation officer at the park, the park imposed a ban on tree felling to protect the biodiversity of the national forest and the surrounding areas.
Meanwhile, the villagers complain that far from being the model village Murma was envisioned to be, its residents still spend their nights in darkness because the village is yet to be connected with electricity supply lines.
“We still have to use oil lamps at night,” said Kamal Karki, a local man. There are a few households that have installed solar panels but for most villagers, oil lamps are the only means available to light up their house at night.
“Gamgadhi, which is a two-hour walk from the village, is connected to an electricity grid whereas Murma villagers have to spend all their nights in darkness,” said Karki.
According to Karki, authorities had planned a 400KW hydroelectric project to supply electricity to Murma but the plan never materialised.
“The contractor for the hydroelectric project was incompetent. The project was left in limbo because of their negligence,” said hydroelectric project chief Dinesh Poudel.
In the absence of electricity supply, Murma villagers have to go all the way to Gamgadhi to recharge their electronic gadgets, including mobile phones.
“The return journey is a three-hour walk uphill. Our village is one of the least developed villages in the area, far from the model village the authorities wanted to turn it into,” said Karki.