Kathmandu, May 27 (RSS): Independent candidate Balendra Shah
has sealed victory in the local election in the Kathmandu Metropolitan City
He secured 61,767 votes and was elected the Mayor of the federal
capital. He defeated Srijana Singh of the Nepali Congress, the common candidate
of the ruling five-party alliance, and the CPN (UML)'s candidate Keshav Sthapit
in the election.
The 32-year-old Shah is also a
rapper known by the name 'Balen'. He has completed Bachelor's degree in Civil
Engineering from Himalayan White House Institute of technology and a Master's in
Structural Engineering from the Karnatak Biswesworaiya National Polytechnic
Institute of India.
The Constitution of Nepal has
defined the local level as the local government. Secondary education, basic
health, water supply and sanitation, language, culture conservation and
development among other sectors fall under the scope of works of the local
government. There are many instances that show that the local levels can make
huge stride in development in a short time given the people's representatives
have the willpower.
RSS reporters Ashok Ghimire and
Sharmila Pathak spoke to the newly-elected Mayor of the capital city. Here are
the excerpts of an interview with the newly-elected mayor:
You've been elected as the Mayor of
Kathmandu. What are your plans and priorities?
Education and health are my first priority. The
92 community schools in the metropolis area would be upgraded to provide
quality education. We will be starting the school improvement with small
things. The school infrastructures would be developed. We will upgrade the
schools before the student enrolment so that the people will be able to feel
the improvement. The infrastructure, sanitation and clean environment would be
set up. The playground required for the students would be managed.
We will make arrangements for
providing the training for teachers on the use of technology in
teaching-learning activities and the interaction to be done with the students
by bringing experts from foreign countries. This will enhance the relations
between teachers and students. We will prepare an environment in which the
children will be happy to go to school.
We will reform the curriculum from
Grade 1 to 8. We will prepare the syllabus on the history, culture and heritage
of Kathmandu, Ayurveda, yoga and meditation in an easy-to-understand format for
the students. With this, the students will be able to provide full information
about the art, culture and history when they meet the visitors from within the
country and abroad in their city in the future. We can take Bhaktapur as an
example of this. The children in Bhaktapur Municipality have information about
the history, art, culture, musical instruments and foods in their city. Every
person should have knowledge about the local art, culture and history.
Do you mean the syllabus prepared
by the Metropolis before this has not included these topics?
The curriculum before this has not
incorporated many things. We should produce the human resources that can
explain this in practice and in written form as well. There are many books to
understand the art, culture and cultural wealth of this place, but we lack the
human resources who can explain all these. We have forwarded a plan of
enhancing the quality of education technologically as well. Technology is
changing rapidly. Students can understand easily when the teaching is done by
showing examples by means of '3D visuals'.
At present, education has become
something like a burden. An environment would be created in which the students
will enjoy school. The interaction would be organized once a week on topics
outside the syllabus in which the students are interested. Someone might be
interested in assembling robots, some might be interested in singing and dancing
while others in arts and theatre. This extra-curricular activity one day a week
will bring out the hidden talent in the students. This extra skill besides the
education degree will also help in the earning. Our aim is to make the students
How are you going to make the
community schools lacking infrastructures and students well-managed?
We are going to 'merge' these types
of schools. Some schools lack playgrounds while others lack sufficient classrooms. We can manage such schools and their teachers by merging these schools.
We shall merge such schools on the basis of requirements and not randomly. Our
wish is that students start coming to the community schools from the private
On learning and teaching activities
through the 3D visualisation you have proposed, how can you provide access to
technology for children with extremely low incomes?
Schools will provide mobile phones
and technology. It is not that 3D visualisation will be applicable throughout grades 1 to 10. It will apply in instalments, like from grades 10 in the
beginning. Children will be tech-savvy when they get grades 10. There should be reforms in customs
in schools and teachers should be corrected. Teachers should take
responsibility for a student getting failure. Students' morale could be
decreased by pointing to their weaknesses in the beginning.
This will not help
increase quality education. It is wrong to blame students and parents for all
shortcomings that occurred in school. Children are in school from morning to
evening. So why parents are blamed for the shortcomings they commit in school? This
blame game is a bad trend. Education on relations between teachers and students
and other moral behaviours should be imparted. Education begins from custom.
What would be the standards of education
of the Metropolis during your tenure of five years as its mayor?
In the first place, people's
psychology toward educational infrastructure should be changed. Parents on their
part look at an elevator as the school's important infrastructure. But an elevator
does not help with teaching and learning activities. Such people's psychology
would be gradually changed. We will carry out reforms in
school toilets and gardens. Classrooms and toilets can be made disabled
people friendly. Required materials like sanitary pads can be managed. The required budget will be allocated and its implementation is monitored effectively.
How will you manage health
Ward clinics will be set up in all
32 wards of the metropolis. A ward clinic will have doctors, nurses and a
laboratory. One can get general health tests of body parts like heart, kidney,
liver, blood pressure and diabetes at the ward clinic. The health test will be free
at least once in six months. Similarly, plans are afoot to carry out screening
for womb and breast cancer. Parks will be constructed in various places for
people to do physical exercises.
There is a plan to increase
facilities in government hospitals. Ways how to stop specialists from going
for foreign jobs will be discussed. Telemedicine service will come into
operation. Health service could be provided by setting aside some portion of
personal property and house rent taxes as health insurance premiums. This will also
encourage residents of Kathmandu to pay personal property and house rent
The Melamchi project has to some
extent addressed water demand in Kathmandu. But it is not enough. How will you
fully address the water problem in the city?
Existing bore water will be
provided to people in the city. To increase the underground water level, we should
recharge its level through the use of rainwater. Rainwater should be stored
in a five-foot pit dug wherein the soil absorbs it, thus increasing the underground
water level. For a house storing rainwater would
be sufficient water demand for 10 houses. One should compulsorily dig a reserve
pit. Rainwater could be stored by
digging small ponds on the premises of public places and government offices.
This will increase underground water level and water level of water resources,
thus ending the drinking water problem to some extent.
Water supplies from the Melamchi
River have resumed. The Capital receives 170 million litres of water from the
Melamchi on a daily basis in the first phase and the daily supplies from other
sources here amount to 130 million litres. We need 430 million litres of water
daily. Now our focus will be on recharging the
sources of water and restoring traditional stone spouts. It is possible by
digging a pond at the source of stone spouts. Ward 17 alone has over 17
stone spouts. Water to be extracted from such sources of water could be
collected in tanks before the supplies.
Management of solid wastes in the
Kathmandu Valley remains as a constant challenge for the local governments. Do
you have any idea for finding a long-lasting solution to this issue?
A Sisdole-based dumping site in
Nuwakot has been used for the disposal of wastes collected from the Kathmandu
Valley. A new dumping site equipped with an incinerator cell at Bancharedanda
is yet to be fully operated and its monitoring has been carried out neither by
the Metropolis nor the concerned Ministry. We will complete the project as
sooner as possible. The placement of more incinerators at different locations
would largely contribute to reducing the quantity of disposable solid waste.
More the practice of separating biodegradable and non-biodegradable garbage
within the sources could be helpful in systematising the waste management
We will urge the Metropolis people to follow the practice and
different vehicles will be used to collect them on different days. More we
will place separate waste disposal containers (for biodegradable and non-biodegradable)
in public. The separation of wasters within the source makes it easier to use
biodegradable wastes as raw materials for organic fertilizer manufacturing and
the production could be supplied to neighbouring Kavrepalanchowk and Dhading
In addition to this, we plan to
take arable land in the surrounding district at least for farming and it will
contribute to creating jobs for some human resources. We have opportunities but
youths are opting for foreign employment in absence of the guarantee of jobs
at home. The practice could be used as a tool to retain the youth force. Youths
will prefer to seek a job career within the home if the job is guaranteed here.
More, the Metropolis folks could get fresh and organic vegetables if the plan
What is your plan to systematise the
Metropolis traffic system and parking sites/lots?
A: Prior to this, an odd-hour
transport facility was in place in the town. Public transport would available
in the capital till 10:00 pm but it could not be continued in absence of an
expected number of passengers as the service failed to target office staff. We
could amend the office duty- hours. Offices could be operated in different
shifts including in odd hours to resume the night bus service. We plan to fix
10,000 CCTVs for the safety of night travel in the Metropolis in the first
phase. We will train the town police. Every bus to be operated at the night will be
equipped with CCTV and GPS. The presence of night street lights will be further
What is your plan to promote electric vehicles?
The metropolis will obviously
increase investment to promote the use of electric vehicles. Fuel-based
vehicles that are presently providing services here should not be replaced,
instead, the owners should be encouraged to opt for electric services. Transport
entrepreneurs should be given time to transform the business gradually.
What are the ways you suggest to
make public transport safe and reliable?
Public vehicles to be operated by the
Metropolis and private sector will have equal capacity and they will be
operated under the same umbrella. Passengers will have a smart card for ticketing
and it will be validated in each public vehicle, route remaining under the
umbrella organisation of the metropolis. This model is in practice in
neighbouring China, India and other developing countries. It will discourage
vehicles to wait unnecessarily in hope of getting more passengers which is one of
the reasons behind a traffic jam in Kathmandu.
There are complaints that the roads
in Kathmandu are not bicycle-friendly. What's your say?
Marking green on the lanes does not
make 'bicycle lanes'. 'Bicycle lanes' must be separately built from the main
road. There should be a garden in the middle. It is not possible to make separate
'bicycle lanes' in Kathmandu as roads here are narrow. Designating a
separate lane for bicycles would further narrow the roads.
We have to see things from a pragmatic viewpoint. Tram and monorails are not plausible in Kathmandu. Separate
'bicycle lanes' can be constructed while constructing Outer Ring Road. The city
dwellers suffering due to a lack of coordination among various agencies in
infrastructure construction, aren’t they?
For instance, the Department of
Road builds the road. Each road has a definite density, temperature and Compaq.
The KMC monitors these factors. I myself am an engineer. I know it as well.
There is no monitoring at the construction sites.
While cementing the roads, the
quality of the materials used while cementing is overlooked. Whatever the
contractors submit as a report that is accepted and agreed upon. This will be no
longer the case now. The construction materials used while building the roads
will be tested in the metropolis's labs. We will make monitoring and
surveillance further effective. We will put in place an' Infrastructure Ambulance'
to repair the potholes in the roads immediately.
Greenery is a prerequisite for urban
beauty. What are your plans for making the Metropolis a 'greener city'?
Plants will be planted in every
house, on each vacant land and alongside the footpath. There is a provision of
'one house, one tree' which is not implemented effectively. The metropolis will provide
fruit-bearing saplings to every taxpayer in the metropolis. The citizens will
plant and protect it if it reaps the fruits. To make it mandatory, the
metropolis will make decisions at the policy-making level.
There are a total of 45 empty
spaces in the metropolis. We will develop it in such a manner that those places
could be utilized for various purposes. This could also ensure greenery in the
metropolitan area. Also, we are thinking of constructing a vertical garden. We
will urge the concerned sides to dig ponds and plant trees in the vacant land
in the public offices.
Can't we manage hoarding boards and
There are separate rules for the management of hoarding boards and wires. That has not been enforced effectively
yet. We will strictly implement it to streamline the boarding boards and
There are citizens facing
difficulties in the lack of public toilets. How would you solve this issue?
We will build public toilets on
the land occupied by public offices by taking a small piece of land on lease.
Such toilets could be built on a small plot of land by demolishing a bit offences of those offices in coordination. Also, we have also discussed with
the restaurateurs in the city to make additional arrangements for public
toilets. The toilets of the restaurants could be used by the public. We can
consider some discount in taxation for such toilets that will be marked by
special signs. The public can use those toilets without obtaining
permission from anyone. Once the Kathmandu Metropolis develops such a culture, it
would be emulated nationwide. In fact, it would also help those restaurants
How would you promote the culture, art
and cultural splendour of Kathmandu?
No efforts will be spared to
keep arts, culture, heritage and civilization alive. We have discussed with
the Bhaktapur Municipality regarding this in various rounds. We will put in
place training centres to produce and train artisans for the conservation of
woodworks and sculptures here.
I have been advocating that we need
'Arniko' to preserve and conserve the ancient art and culture of Kathmandu. I
myself have studied deeply about the history of the Lichchhavi and Malla eras. Cultures
should be linked with tourism.
We are considering an increase in
budget for the promotion and protection of tourism, culture and heritage. This
will have a positive impact on the lives of people and on the country's
You are elected as an independent
candidate. Your colleagues are representatives of political parties. How do you
Leader and cadres alike of all
political parties have cast their ballot for me. Those elected in the ward
chairperson posts have also voted for me. There is no question of not allowing
me to work. All are 'in my support'. Furthermore, the top leaders of all
political parties and competitors for the mayoral race have been telephoning me and
expressing their commitment to support me. As I have said, we will broadcast
each executive meetings live. Who wouldn't want to work for the greater good of
At last, is there anything you want
The people of Kathmandu Metropolis
have cast their ballot for me and given me an opportunity to take the lead. They
certainly have great faith in me. I will not let them down.
Development is not possible by sole
effort. It takes a collective effort. Hence, I will coordinate efforts with 18
municipalities in the Kathmandu Valley and forge a common concept to move
forward with the development works.
If we succeed to develop Kathmandu
as a model city, other municipalities will also be inspired. We should learn
from the past and make future result-oriented for which we need support from