Single public office working for six districtsThe popular ‘gaun gaun ma Singha Durbar’ slogan has remained just that—a slogan, with its implementation a far cry
Gaun Gaun Ma Singha Durbar (Singha Durbar in Every Village) has become a popular slogan in Nepal since the implementation of federalism in the country. The catchline means that the powers of Singha Durbar, the country’s administrative centre, have been decentralised to the local bodies. But people are yet to see this happen.
The Soil Conservation and Watershed Management Office in Tanahun is a case in point. The office has been providing services to six districts—Tanahun, Lamjung, Gorkha, Manang, Kaski and Nawalparasi (East).
Earlier, every district had its own soil conservation and watershed management office. But with the Cabinet’s decision in August last year, there are now only two offices of soil conservation and watershed management to look after the concerns of 11 districts in Gandaki Province.
“We are unable to execute works as expected. Our area of work has expanded, but the staff number has reduced from 17 to 12,” said Diwakar Paudel, an officer at the Tanahun office.
The authorities concerned should manage more employees at the office, Paudel said.
“The office has many challenges as it is, and now our clients, too, are complaining about inconveniences they must put up with while visiting the office,” Paudel said. “The provincial government should set up a field unit or reinstate the district offices to provide timely services.”
Durjan Gurung, chairman of Gausahar Durbar Foot Trail Consumers’ Committee in Lamjung, expressed his grievance at the authorities concerned for not providing effective services.
“It is said that the power of Singha Durbar would be handed over to villages. But it has not been implemented yet. We have to visit another district to complain about soil erosion, floods and landslides,” said Gurung.
The federal and provincial governments had allocated Rs 144.7 million to the Soil Conservation and Watershed Management Office last fiscal year. Umanga Baral, the assistant watershed management officer, said Rs 138 million was spent on different projects last year.
Nara Bahadur Mahato, chairman of Gundrahi Dhakaha Buffer Zone Community Forest in Nawalparasi (East), complained of difficulty carrying out projects because the office is not conveniently located.
“It takes two to three days to reach the soil conservation office and return. It’s difficult to get services from the office due to its location,” said Mahato.
The community forest had recently undertaken a project of installing barbed wire fence around the forest area.
“We completed the project. However, it was difficult to get payment from the office. One has to spend around Rs 5,000 during each visit to the office,” he said.