The Shivaraj Municipality of Kapilvastu was formed by merging the former village development committees of Lalpur, Thunhiya, Chanai, Birpur, Shivagadhi, Jawabhari and Bisunpur. Mayor Netra Raj Adhikari, elected from the CPN (UML), claimed that the municipality was on the path to progress through the development of industry, trade and agriculture. Our Kapilvastu correspondent Janu Pandey talked to him about his performances. Excerpts:
What have you done to control COVID-19 in the municipality?
Shivaraj Municipality has taken a different approach from other local levels of the country to control COVID-19. We have set up stations in five different locations in the municipality to conduct daily antigen tests. Similarly, we also conduct free Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests every week. We provide health counselling to infected people both at the hospital and at home. A team of people's representatives and health workers go to the homes of COVID-19 patients to monitor their health and provide encouragement.
We have built a 15-bed COVID-19 hospital with free X-ray and laboratory services. As the coronavirus once again began spreading rapidly across the country, we assessed the risk to our municipality and closed all the marketplaces even before the District Administration Office imposed the prohibitory order. We, the people’s representatives, and health workers worked to the best of our abilities to help the citizens get through this crisis. With everybody’s help and support, we were able to expand testing to the rural areas. We asked the townspeople to be patient and not panic. Our efforts have started yielding results and the number of COVID-19 cases has started to go down now.
How have you carried out development works during the COVID-19 pandemic?
The works contracted out by the municipality as well as the works done by consumer committees have been moving forward steadily. We distributed tools and equipment to farmers to allow agricultural works to continue. We have also been active in disaster relief and have purchased and brought into operation ambulances and fire engines. We are currently in the process of formulating our policies and programmes and budget for the coming fiscal year. Development projects have been implemented with safety precautions in place.
How many of your election commitments have you fulfilled?
We are fulfilling our election promises. We are currently working on constructing a smart refreshment centre and a fire station. We are in the process of implementing large drinking water projects and expanding the municipality’s roads. We have also started ambulance services and work is underway on the provincial infectious diseases hospital. During the election, we had promised to work for development and we have been doing that.
What have you done in the field of disaster mitigation?
We see many road accidents and fire-related incidents in our municipality. We have purchased fire engines to minimise the damage caused by fires. To reduce the risk of fires, we are on a campaign to replace the thatched roofs of the houses in the municipality. Our goal is to make the municipality free of thatched roofs by the end of the next fiscal year. We are also preparing school textbooks in collaboration with the police in an effort to educate children about disasters and help in the control of road accidents, reduce violence and prevent crime.
What challenges have you faced while working?
There is a mismatch between people’s expectations and our capabilities. Our limited resources do not allow us to do everything the people want and need. Lack of manpower, absence of laws, unclear rules and regulations and COVID-19 are some of the main challenges we have been facing.
What should be done to strengthen the municipality?
The provincial and federal governments should help in the execution of large projects. The budget allocated must be increased. As there are many industries in our municipality, an investment-friendly environment must be created. There is a need to introduce and implement irrigation projects for the development of agriculture. The municipality will grow strong only if the local people get employment.