Lalitpur City Police forced to work under deplorable conditionsAll of Lalitpur Metropolitan City 22 municipal police (MP) officials carry out their daily operations from a single dingy room that is not big enough to fit in even five people.
All of Lalitpur Metropolitan City's 22 municipal police officials carry out their daily operations from a single dingy room that is not big enough to fit in even five people.
The room—which has corrugated zinc plates for a roof; walls strewn with marks’; an ancient sofa, steel cupboards and an old wooden table for furniture; and lines of clothes hanging from one end of the room to the other—is currently functioning
as LMC police officials’ ‘headquarters’.
“We work in the field throughout the day. And then we come to the office to change our dress, or for a short break, but our office feels like prison,” said Head Constable Gokarna Paudel, who has been serving as a City Police official for the past 18 years. In terms of an office structure, besides the one room that is assigned for the constables, the MP has one more room, for DSP Maharjan, on the premises of LMC’s head office.
The LMC is in charge of 29 wards of the metropolis, which is the third largest city in Nepal after Kathmandu and Pokhara, with a total population of 226,728, according to the 2011 census. The LMC officers work 12 hours a day, straight from 6am to 6pm. “Sometimes, we even need to stay here till late in the night. The City Police has to look after almost everything inside the metropolis, but who will look after us?” asked chief of the MP Deputy Superintendent of Police Kadam Lal Maharjan, .
In comparison to the state of the City Police of LMC, the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) City Police’s working conditions are much better. The KMC in September this year had received its own barracks in Teku (which can accomodate 52 constables—36 male and 16 female). The barracks, built at the cost of Rs 250,000, has three dormitories for males and a dormitory hall for female constables. “At a time when we are not even getting a proper place to operate from, it is crazy for us to expect a barrack,” adds Maharjan.
“Mayor Chiribabu Maharjan and Deputy Mayor Gita Satyal are well aware of our problem, but even they have been indifferent to our plight for so long,” said
Sub-inspector Subarna Byanjakar, who has been working as a city police official for the past two decades.
To get an idea of how dire their situation is, take this as an example: In the southeast end of the MP office, there are three rooms, which were originally built as
public toilets in the 1980s. These rooms are converted into a kitchen, a changing room for four women constables and a storeroom.
MP personnel had some relief when the MP office was briefly re-located (for six months) to Damkal, where the office had two big rooms. However, the 2015 earthquakes damaged the building and the City Police were forced back to their old residence.
According to Clause 3 of the Local Governance Act-2073, the metropolis should give top priority to the management of the MP. Other issues, such as cooperatives institution, FM radio operations, local taxation, service charge, and fee and other activities, should be of secondary importance. “Despite it being listed on the Local Governance Act, priority has not been given to stations,” said Maharjan.
Asked to comment on the issue, Deputy Mayor Satyal said she is aware of the situation and is working on providing a solution. “The City Police is the sole executive body of the LMC. It’s been 15 months since we were elected as new representatives, but we’re still finding it tough to figure out it all. We will find a place for them,” said Satyal.
After seeing the crunch of police personnel in the metropolis, a Municipal Council meeting on July 13 decided to recruit 50 additional people. The vacancy has already been announced, but accomodation for these personnel has not been figured out. When the Post asked the LMC how it was going to manage space for additional people, Satyal said that the new personnel would be deployed in five different clusters.
The MP was established during the tenure of former mayor Buddhi Raj Bajracharya in 1998, with 30 constables manning 22 wards. Today, the sub-metropolitan city has turned into a metropolitan city (since February 2017), with an addition of seven wards; but the number of City Police personnel has decreased to 22, with more and more people leaving, as they are forced to work beyond their capacity from a congested, single room.