Lumbini chief minister’s office moved to Deukhuri overnightChief Minister Kul Prasad KC snubbed calls by parties and civil servants against hastily shifting the seat of the provincial government as Deukhari lacks the infrastructure.
On Monday, Lumbini Province’s Office of Chief Minister and Council of Ministers was moved to Deukhuri in Dang from Butwal overnight.
Tilakram Sharma, spokesperson for the Lumbini province government, said the office’s equipment were transported to the provincial capital on three trucks on Monday night. “Now the chief minister’s office will operate from Dang once the office is set up,” Sharma told the Post.
Despite a call by political parties and civil servants to postpone the plan until the physical infrastructures are ready, Chief Minister Kul Prasad KC moved ahead with it anyway. The coalition partner Nepali Congress, main opposition party CPN-UML, government employees and newly elected provincial assembly members had protested against the move.
The provincial assembly on October 6, 2020 decided to shift the provincial capital from Butwal in Rupandehi district to Deukhuri valley in Dang. The then chief minister Shankar Pokharel had announced that the provincial headquarters would be shifted only after construction of necessary infrastructures was complete. But two years after the decision, the construction remains incomplete.
The provincial government plans to house its ministries on the premises of the Rapti Technical School in Deukhuri.
A week ago, Chief Minister KC, a CPN (Maoist Centre) leader, instructed government employees and other stakeholders to shift his office. His instructions included making necessary arrangements to house the offices in Rapti Technical School within five days.
The provincial government transported the goods with the help of the security personnel and the Maoist activists despite the noncooperation from the employees.
Chief Minister KC has been performing his office work by setting up an office in a room of Rapti Rural Municipality in Dang since December 1. He visited Butwal whenever required. After knowing the possible noncooperation and even the protest of the employees, KC shifted the office goods during the night on his own initiative.
The civil servants and some of the secretariat members came to know about the relocation only on Tuesday morning. According to an official at the chief minister’s office who refused to be named, there was no discussion or preparation done at the office to move it to the permanent capital.
KC’s move to hastily shift the provincial capital to Deukhuri has drawn mixed reactions.
The people’s representatives from Rupandehi and its surrounding districts, business communities, political parties and the locals are against the move while those in Dang and some other districts in the province have welcomed the move.
Bhumishwar Dhakal, the former chief whip of the UML in the Lumbini provincial assembly, said that KC’s move was wrong. It could cause confrontation among the political parties and stakeholders, he said. “There are no problems to implement the decision made by the two-thirds majority of the provincial assembly but the capital was shifted without constructing the necessary infrastructures,” Dhakal said. “All the ministries cannot be operated from the building which was constructed for a technical school.”
Government employees and various organisations they are affiliated to protested against the government’s decision, citing a lack of infrastructure to operate government offices there. On Wednesday, they submitted a joint memorandum to Deepak Kafle, the chief secretary of the Lumbini Province, urging the provincial government to postpone its decision until the physical infrastructures are readied in Deukhuri.
A few months after Deukhuri was declared the provincial capital, the provincial government had shifted the Ministry of Tourism, Rural and Urban Development to the town. Minister Dilli Bahadur Chaudhary also moved to Deukhuri, but the minister soon returned to Butwal saying he could not work effectively due to the lack of infrastructure in the new location. The Office of the Chief Minister also set up a liaison office in Deukhuri a year and a half ago, but the office remains unused.