Province 5 assembly members debate over the province’s name and capitalThe decision to designate the province’s capital and name would be passed through the two-thirds majority of the assembly.
Province 5 is scrambling to decide its capital city and province name as all other provinces have already decided their capitals. Amidst the mounting pressure from locals and people’s representatives, a multiparty meeting—comprising of representatives from prominent political parties, entrepreneurs, and members from civic society—took place in Butwal last week. The meeting, however, failed to make any headway.
Even though the people’s representatives raise the issue in each meeting, the provincial assembly has yet to discuss a report submitted by the Capital City Recommendation Committee three months ago.
There are three cities that being discussed for the provincial capital—Butwal, Kapilvastu and Dang. Locals and representatives have been lobbying to name their respective native cities as the provincial capital. But the issue hasn’t propelled forward despite repeated meetings and heated debates. The solution is not in immediate sight, say provincial ministers and stakeholders.
Speaking at a meet-up in Butwal on Sunday, Kul Prasad KC, provincial minister of internal affairs and law, said the capital city would be decided through a ‘competition’ and may take some months.
“This is a very sensitive issue that would have a long-lasting impact,” he said. “We should make the decision respecting the soul and objective of federalism.”
KC also criticised the previous government’s decision to name Butwal as temporary capital as ‘knee-jerk’, adding that the government is yet to receive reports from Special Committee and Technical Committee, which are tasked with researching the viable options for the capital city.
“There are three major cities in Province 5, so it’s not an easy decision,” he said. “We would have to respect the opinions of the people and experts.”
Likewise, speaking at the function organised by Reporters’ Club, provincial assembly member Bhoj Prasad Shrestha said the province’s capital should be a well-connected city with ample access to infrastructure and facility. Such a city, Shrestha said, is Butwal.
“Assigning Butwal as the province capital would benefit a majority of the province’s population,” Shrestha claimed. “Butwal would make for an ideal capital given that it is well-connected, has access to infrastructure, and has possibilities of high growth and development.”
Meanwhile, Fakaruddhin Khan, a provincial assembly member representing Nepali Congress, said the fact that the assembly is still struggling to resolve the issue is a “serious shortcoming of the existing government.”
“This is an issue that should’ve been concluded within six months of the establishment of the provincial assembly,” he said. “It is a shame that two years on, the government has failed to make any headway. This has questioned the objective of federalism itself.”
Santosh Pandey, another provincial member, said the government has been confusing people, saying the capital should be set up on virgin land.
“We will not tolerate any federal interference in this matter,” Pandey said.
The provincial assembly has 87 members—61 from Nepal Communist Party, 19 from Nepali Congress, five from Samajbadi Party, and one each from Rastriya Janamorcha and Rastriya Janata Party. According to existing provisions, the decision to designate the capital and name of the province would be passed through the two-third majority of the assembly.
Recently, Bagmati Province endorsed Hetauda as its capital; all other provinces have already decided on their capital, while Provinces 1, 2 and 5 are yet to endorse their province names. Currently, Butwal stands as the temporary capital city of Province 5.