The Prime Minister, ministers and the party leaders promise to work towards instituting good governance and transformative changes to meet their pledges to the people. Though reality seems to be quite different, those holding the reins of power are busy painting rosy picture of the state of affairs. Obviously, for the present coalition government that had been brought into shape through a cobbling of political forces mutually estranged to each other, there should have no other options but to deliver and function to redeem the pledge made to the citizens during the democratic elections conducted almost a year ago. However, current patterns and style of working and self-centered biases endemic to the leaders across the levels of the governments speak otherwise.
The party leaders seem bent on aggrandising their partisan turfs, serving their own narrow interests which are responsible in making the present coalition government less credible and unpopular. The government performance has not been able assuage the concerns of the constituent stakeholders within the party, too. The current state of national economy is not all too good which is said to be faltering under the grip of recession. NC leaders themselves have criticised the finance minister on this count. The economic activities in the country are on the decline, rendering shortfalls in the revenue collection to meet the recurring expenditure. If the current situation is not tackled properly, the present coalition government will be lost in a maze of tall promises and rhetoric without any substantive outcomes to its credit.
The government needs to perform to inspire hope and optimism in the people .When a government makes tall promises and fails to deliver to meet the basic minimum aspirations of the people, popular disappointments and disenchantments are bound to grow and burst on the streets. In fact, the government has been anticipated to target the basic day-to-day problems, inconveniences and hardships faced by the people in a convincing manner, but it looks a bit disarrayed and distracted. To take a small example, promise that the Kathmandu roads will be fully toned up, improved and made sleek has come a cropper. The great Dashain festival is drawing closer. Traditionally, this festival demands the drive to clean the streets and neighbourhood ambience. But nothing has been done on this count.
The capital city streets are laden with dust and dirt. The Ring Road has become further dilapidated, making it difficult to pass across for both commuting public and vehicles The Kathmandu roads and city ambience looks much more spoiled, dusty and deteriorated. The city transportation is further mismanaged. The talk of setting up transportation authority to manage the valley traffic has not taken off. The transformative promise of federal governance thus appears more or less overlooked and neglected. Not only at the central level, but the political functionaries at the sub-national level have also gone overboard to nurse their own vested interests and egos.
When one scans through the news media headlines, one can come across several instances that indicate as to how local villages in the far off districts have been allowed to suffer and languish in deprivation due to highhandedness and parochial interests of the dominant local politicians who work in collusion with local contractors. Even the government officials and technical personnel who dare to stand by and follow the rules and regulations - though they are very few - are attempted to be tamed and cowed down. It must be mentioned that local politicians from ward chairpersons to mayors (Pramukh) have been involved in unleashing what is called as dozer road building boom in the hills. This dozer road construction boom has been executed by cutting into steep fragile hillsides haphazardly without any kind of planning and ecological considerations.
The dozer road construction is mostly carried out without making any arrangement for proper drainage and reckless and mindless destruction of vast swathe of green vegetation. The dozer road construction is quick and easy practice that mostly benefits contractors, unscrupulous government officials and politicians. It damages communities, landscapes and ecosystems across the country and beyond. News reports say that mayors in the local governments generally give contracts to their own firms in carrying out dozer road construction. In a report published not very long back, it is said that the road building caused the destruction of more than 283 local irrigation projects out of 440 irrigation projects in Bajhang district alone. As a result, villages like Rayal have been badly impacted where paddy plantation has not taken place due to destruction of local irrigation system entirely built and managed by the local populace.
Hundreds of families are thus left to fend off for themselves because of destructive and unsustainable road building practices clamped down in the villages without regard to the natural drainage pattern and ecosystem. This writer has been a witness of the similar practices of dozer assault on the fragile hill ecosystem in Ward No.8 of Malarani Rural Municipality in Arghakhanchi where elected politicians especially ward chairmen have masterminded and led the dozer based road construction to cut the hill slopes haphazardly. Those whose do know and observe the situation remark that the local politicians work in collusion with local contractors, technical personnel to foil any attempt to scrutinize the action. Local communities are neither consulted nor allowed access to information regarding the project planning and operation
The government headed by Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda should be aware of the pitfalls and shortcomings seen in the performance at all levels over the years through course correction measures and infuse new hope and inspiration among people who are now feeling cheated by the politicians bent on making tall promises during the elections but fail to deliver.
(The author is presently associated with Policy Research Institute (PRI) as a senior research fellow. email@example.com)