Local representatives fail to serve people’s aspirationsThe local federal units of Province 2 got people’s representatives last year after a gap of two decades.
The local federal units of Province 2 got people’s representatives last year after a gap of two decades. People had high expectations of prompt government services and development after their representatives took charge. However, the representatives’ first year in office was riddled with problems, confusions and legal challenges regarding their rights and duties.
Lack of enough government employees and lackadaisical performance of those limited civil servants have greatly affected development activities in the plains. Various responsibilities including construction of physical infrastructure, health and educational services, agriculture, women’s development, social security, and monitoring, evaluation and implementation of plans have been delegated to the local level, according to constitutional provisions. However, development plans have not been implemented effectively in the province particularly in the absence of technical human resource.
“There are challenges in designating office management centres, making policies and programmes, and implementing development plans,” said Ram Udgar Goit, the mayor of Kamala Municipality in Dhanusha. Disputes among the representatives, problems in employee management and construction of physical infrastructure created difficulties in the first year of our office. As the municipality failed to hold a municipal council meeting last fiscal year to allocate budget and to implement the plans, the local unit finally conducted the council meeting for two consecutive years on January 21 and allocated a total budget of Rs570 million.
Mayor Goit lamented that the municipality has a shortage of workers to implement development projects with the Rs300 million capital grants provided to it. He said there are just five employees for a total of 29 posts in the municipal office. Of the total 18 posted to nine wards of Kamala Municipality, only five are in service. There are a total of 136 local units in the eight districts of Province 2. They include one metropolitan city, three sub-metropolitan cities, 73 municipalities and 59 rural municipalities. Almost all the local units of Province 2 face shortages of officials to execute plans effectively.
Besides, tussles and misunderstanding between the elected representatives and government staff are another reason for people being deprived of timely services from the local governments.
Phekan Das of Kabilasi Municipality-7 in Sarlahi district complained that he had been frequenting the municipal office for the past 15 days for a recommendation letter to set up an agriculture cooperative in the village but to no avail. “I need recommendation from the municipality to register the cooperative. I have been frequenting the office for the past two weeks but could not get service so far,” he said.
Das was denied the service due to the absence of acting chief administrative officer Gopal Singh Ale. Ale told the Post that he had been unable to attend his duty due to the threat of Deputy Mayor Radha Devi.
“She [deputy mayor] verbally abused me and even threatened to sever my arms in my office room,” said Ale. Mayor Kaushal Yadav confirmed that Ale did not come to office due to the deputy mayor’s threat.
Deputy Mayor Devi refused any wrongdoing. She, however, charged the employees with taking commission from service seekers. Officials at several local units also complained that they could not work effectively to meet public expectations due to the disputes and conflicts among the elected representatives. Chief Administrative Officer of Phatuwa Bijayapur Municipality in Rautahat district said the employees could not work due to the conflict between Mayor Gopal Prasad Yadav and Deputy Mayor Kanti Devi Mahato.
(With inputs from our local correspondents)