Vital infrastructure projects, recognised by the state as National Pride Projects, are expected to set example for others. Their timely completion and excellent operation should blaze the trail and give the right direction towards the goal of development and prosperity. But their construction progress, as reported by this daily, is faltering at snail’s pace and setting bad examples. This amply explains our development backwardness and lackadaisical manner of project implementation. Opportunities may be abound for us but we have missed many of them, and will miss many more that may be beckoning in future. The dismal performance has to do something with the lack of political willpower, poor working attitude and flawed implementation strategy.
Development planning and execution in Nepal suffers from the chronic malady of cronyism, nepotism and corruption which is awaiting effective remedies even after the change of political structure and formation of a powerful government after the historic elections. It seems that things are not going to change for better unless a radical intervention is made by the government to terminate the old mind-set. A crackdown on corruption and a brake in the culture of cronyism should make the beginning which should be followed by employment of capable human resource, rewarding the clean and capable people and punishment to the corrupt and neglectful lot. The onus to bring radical changes in the flawed development approach is on the present powerful government which enjoys the sweeping mandate of the electorate. The hope is high that if this government cannot meet the public aspirations of development, nobody can.
It is sad to note here that the national pride projects are able to spend only 16 per cent of the allocated budget on an average. This throws light into the poor manner of implementation. Here, a serious flaw may lie in the planning itself which needs honest soul searching and introspection. In fact, infrastructure building lays the essential groundwork for development and in this regard, the government has identified 22 national pride projects. Their completion builds the foundation upon which all round development of the nation can take pace. These projects cover the vital areas such as roads and highways, hydropower plants, irrigation, airports, power transmission, conservation and cultural promotion. There must be a serious shortcoming in their implementation, if not in planning, amid bitter revelation that only Rs. 284 billion was spent so far out of the total allocated amount of Rs. 1,810 billion. These projects have earned bad repute for incompletion, delays and faltering performance.
Many instances could be cited in this regard. The Melamchi Water Supply Project has lingered for over two decades and its completion is still uncertain. That is not how government should be selling dreams to the people. The Lumbini Development Trust has existed for the past 33 years and has failed to make concrete achievement. Same is the case with the Babai Irrigation Project, unable to complete in more than three decades. As these lazy projects linger and falter, overrun costs keep spiraling. The root of the problem looks to have been identified when Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli said the other day that majority of these projects were delayed due to collusion between contractors, officials and political leaders. In this regard, the PM has reassuringly said that this trend will be put an end.