Kathmandu ward makes it compulsory for relief recipients to work for four hours to check fraudAt least one member needs to perform labour work assigned by local authorities, if the family is to receive essential supplies from the government.
A ward in Kathmandu Metropolitan City has made it compulsory for at least one member to perform labor work assigned by local authorities, if the family is to receive essentials from the government.
Under Ward No. 15’s new ‘labour-based relief’ campaign, launched on Saturday, locals will be made to weed public places, clear bushes and drains, and clean courtyards and playgrounds, from 7 to 11 in the morning every day. Local residents and trade unionists have welcomed the drive and said the drive will help clean public places, which have seen little movement of people since the country went into the Covid19 lockdown from March 24.
“This is really a good move. All the local bodies should do this, because members of every household are now jobless,” said Janak Chaudhary, general secretary of the General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions.
Changunarayan Municipality in Bhaktapur first came up with the idea after even those who could afford to feed themselves and their family started showing up at relief distribution programmes. From April 25, the municipality provided essentials only to those who performed labour work it assigned. In Changunarayan, people have to work for two days in a week to get paid Rs 1,620.
Kathmandu-15, which had been providing free lunch for the poor and deprived, stopped the programme after nearly two months. The ward’s record shows that till date, 2,200 people have eaten the free lunch distributed in Bhuikhel, Jana Galli, Chamati, Annapurna Chowk and Buddha Park.
“We stopped the free launch programme last week as Covid-19 cases became more pervasive in Kathmandu,” said Kiran Raj Shahi, chairperson of Bhuikhel Tole Sudhar Samiti, one of the initiators of the programme. He said the drive was stopped after more and more people started coming for the free meal every day.
“We feared that a big gathering of people would increase the risk of transmission of the disease, that is how we began this new model,” said Shahi.
The ward provided relief materials to 15 people on Saturday morning after making them clean the stone spout in Bhagwan Pau and Acupuncture park.
“I worked four hours and got the relief package,” said Chadra Lama, 44, who used to work as a stone carver outside the Swayambhunath temple for two decades.
“I don't feel bad about it because I get relief materials for my work,” said Lama.
The ward office is planning to distribute essentials to over 700 people, mostly to the poor, marginalised and disabled, and students who stay in rented rooms. “We have planned to take these relief items to the disabled and elderly at their doorstep,” said ward-15 member Aananda Gautam.
The relief package includes 10 kg rice, 2 kg pulses, one litre oil and flattened rice.
“We had very few people today. I guess, the number will increase gradually,” said Swikirti Shrestha, 29, a resident of Bhuikhel, who used to work at a mobile phone shop before the lockdown. “This is really a good package because people work and our neighbourhood becomes clean,” said Shrestha.
Ishwor Man Dangol, chairperson of the ward, said this drive is completely new to Kathmandu. “We are the first ward to initiate this programme in the city,” said Dangol, who is also the spokesperson for Kathmandu Metropolitan City. “Gradually other wards will also follow suit, the city office is planning to adopt it,” said Dangol.
Till date, the metropolitan city has distributed relief materials to 249,183 people, but the city office does not have exact data on how many needy people received relief.