Residents of outlying settlements in Salyan walk for three days to the local government officePeople of wards 6 and 7 or Kalimati Rural Municipality feel neglected by the local authorities and people’s representatives.
Twenty-year-old Dilkumari Rana from Hattidhunga in ward 6 of Kalimati Rural Municipality in Salyan district, visited the administrative office of the rural municipality located at Putalibazar last week for a recommendation letter for her 4-year-old son to claim the child allowance provided by the government. She had to walk for three days to reach the office.
Rana said she first visited the ward 6 office at Chharchhare, but could not get the letter as the secretary had already left for the Putalibazar-based administrative office and would come back only after six days. So instead of waiting for six days, she, along with her father, decided to get the work done by walking all the way to Putalibazar.
"On the first day, my father and I stayed at our relative’s house, and on the second day, we reached Hattidamar in ward 5 and spent the night there. We reached the administrative office only on the third day and got the recommendation letter,” said Rana.
Similarly, a 22-year-old woman named Mankala Roka of Hattidhunga also reached the administrative office of the rural municipality last week by taking an arduous three-day walk for the recommendation letter to enrol her 10-year-old son in the government’s insurance scheme. All along, she carried her son on her back.
"There are no motorable roads connecting our village, and in the surrounding areas where there are dirt roads, there is no transport service. In lots of places, we have to cross many rivers and streams, including the Babai River, and there is no bridge on any of them,” said Roka. Due to the difficult topography, people have to travel through rivers, forests, and hills to reach the administrative office of the rural municipality. “This is a hilly area surrounded by forests, and there is always the risk of wild animals. While travelling, whenever it starts getting dark, travellers start searching for shelter,” Roka added.
This is not only the problem of Hattidhunga, but residents of almost all the villages and settlements in wards 6 and 7 of Kalimati Rural Municipality have to walk for three days to reach the administrative office for any kind of administration work.
According to Narabahadur Magar, a 40-year-old man from ward 6 of the rural municipality, there are only dirt roads in the rural municipality, and one has to reach Damdabali in ward 5 of the rural municipality for a ride to the administrative office. It takes one or one and a half days for the locals of wards 6 and 7 to reach Damdabali. The transport fare from Damdabali to Putalibazar is very high.
“All the people going to the administrative office in the rural municipality suffer blisters, swollen feet, and other kinds of sickness. Senior citizens face more problems than others because they have to travel to the Putalibazar to collect their elderly allowances from the bank there,” said Magar. “And when the rainy season starts, locals of the two wards are cut off from the essential services provided by the administrative office and the bank, among other things. Patients during the rainy season suffer in silence at home,” Magar added.
Locals in wards 6 and 7 complain that the authorities and people's representatives have not shown much interest in linking these wards with roads.
Manakala Roka said that the rural municipality provides an allowance of Rs500 per month each to the children under the age of five, but not everyone gets it or even tries to get it due to the hassles associated.
According to Tekraj Pulami, ward chair of Kalimati-6, there are 700 families in the ward, and due to the difficult topography and absence of road connectivity, they are forced to suffer several kinds of problems getting service from rural municipal offices, banks, and health facilities.
Dan Bahadur Khatri, chairman of the rural municipality, said that they have not been able to take road links to the two wards due to geographical difficulties and technical issues as they border the Banke National Park.
“The forest areas of the rural municipality touch the area of the national park, due to which we have not been able to construct roads in several areas, particularly in wards 6 and 7. To construct roads near or inside a national park, we need approvals from government agencies like the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation and the Department of Road, among others,” said Khatri.
According to Khatri, they have started discussions with government agencies for approval and have already started constructing bridges over the Babai River and other streams.
“The plan is to start constructing bridges first, so it would be easier to proceed with road construction once we obtain necessary approvals,” Khatri added.