Saturday, 19 June, 2021
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INTERVIEW

‘Jhimruk has put focus on COVID-19 awareness’



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The Jhimruk Rural Municipality of Pyuthan was formed by merging the former village development committees of Okharkot, Bandikot, Bangemaroth, Torbang, and Tushara and wards 7, 8, and 9 of the Libang Village Development Committee.

This rural municipality borders the Gulmi District in the east, the Naubahini Rural Municipality and the Pyuthan Municipality in the west, some areas of the Naubahini Rural Municipality in the north, and Mallarani Rural Municipality, some parts of Pyuthan Municipality and the Arghakhanchi District in the south. Jhimruk is led by Tilak Bahadur GC who was elected chairman of the Rastriya Janamorcha Party. Our Pyuthan correspondent Sujal Shrestha talked with him about the works he has done for the people of Jhimruk. Excerpts:

 

What is the situation of COVID-19 in the rural municipality?

The situation is not as bad now but there was a time when many people in Jhimruk were sick. We tested the severely ill people and many of them were found to be infected with the coronavirus. Some people did not want to be tested because they feared testing positive for COVID-19. But the sick have recovered now and no new people have fallen ill. There are a couple of active cases but the infection is not widespread.

 

What has the local government done to control COVID-19 in the area?

We have focused on raising public awareness. We have reactivated the mechanisms formed last year. The people coming from outside are mandatorily required to stay in quarantine for 10 days away without coming in contact with their family members and the community. We have mobilised teachers, mothers' groups, female health volunteers and other response groups. We have also constructed a five-bed hospital with an oxygen facility. More beds can be added if necessary. Many infected people are treated here while some are sent to the District Hospital. The situation is not out of control.

 

How have you taken development works forward in the midst of the pandemic?

Those works which had already been contracted out are moving forward. In works being done by consumers, only people of the same locality are deployed and they fully adhere to the health protocol. We have prioritised the construction of roads, completion of drinking water projects and building of irrigation canals.

 

What challenges have you encountered while working?

Everything was challenging at the beginning. The entire system was new and we did not know what we could do and how. It took us a couple of years to understand everything. But gradually, we organised ourselves and now we do not have such a problem. Another major challenge we have faced is a lack of awareness. People have not taken ownership of the projects being implemented by the government. They only accept the projects they like. People do not understand the big projects that the government is trying to implement. We are working to raise public understanding but it might take some time to yield results.

 

How has the agricultural farm run by the rural municipality helped the local farmers?

We spent thousands of rupees to introduce various schemes, conduct training programmes, and provide incentives. Yet, it yielded very little in terms of actual results. So, we brought the agricultural farm into operation to provide encouragement and practical training to the local farmers who have been greatly benefitted from this initiative. The rural municipality has also been able to see some concrete progress.

 

How many of your election promises have you fulfilled?

We have been able to fulfill many of our promises. We have built almost all the roads we had proposed. We have also focused on the improvement of schools and campuses as we had said during the election. For the farmers, we had promised to build a cold store here. We asked the central and provincial governments for a special grant to build it for two years but did not receive it.

It will now be implemented as a supplementary project. We had also pledged to construct irrigation canals, which we have done. We are also working on expanding access to drinking water. A concrete bridge was also built in Dhad in our time, although the plan was forwarded long ago. Our plan to replace all the thatched roofs in the rural municipality will also be complete this year. We have done a lot in the past four years. Now, for the remainder of our tenure, our focus is on sustainable development.

 

How satisfied are the local people?

People tell us we have worked well. You might have to get your answer from outside sources as well. We believe we have done our job well. We also seek regular advice and suggestions from the locals. They have not raised any complaints till now.

 

What can be done to build the capacity of the local government?

The local government’s capacity relies on the capacity of the local people. Therefore, we have focused on the development of the agriculture and tourism sectors for employment generation. Young people are not attracted to farming because it is a lot of work for very little money. Everyone wants to go abroad and earn money overnight. It is challenging for local governments to build their capacity in the context of Nepal.