Created by amalgamating erstwhile Chhinchu, Ramghat and Maintada village development committees, Bheri Ganga Municipality occupies the area between the Babai River in the east to the Bheri River in the west in Surkhet District. The municipality currently has Yagya Prasad Dhakal as its mayor, elected from the CPN (UML) in the local election of 2022. The Rising Nepal's Chhinchu correspondent Nabin Subedi talked with him about his work so far and plans for the future. Excerpts:
What works have you done since assuming the office last year?
We have initiated a campaign to ensure good governance and adherence to regulations in Bheri Ganga. The municipality has faced accusations of corruption and misdeeds in the past. We are working on addressing those concerns. For this, we have drafted two dozen laws since our election. We have also brought an end to wasteful expenditure and are developing a public-friendly administration.
How are you serving the people though?
We have made our service delivery process more efficient so that people can get their job done without hassle. We are providing services through various divisions and trying to ensure that our citizens can breathe easy. We have also prioritised physical infrastructure. We are working with the aim of creating a prosperous Bheri Ganga and happy Bheri Ganga residents.
What kind of development works have you carried out?
We are building infrastructure for roads, irrigation, drinking water supply and schools. We have drafted a tourism master plan and are identifying and developing tourism destinations. We make sure to take climate change and the possibility of natural disasters into account when implementing projects.
We are working to make Bheri Ganga a fully clean municipality this year. For this, we have declared the Nepali year 2080 as the year for cleanliness and are collaborating with different organisations to generate public awareness. We are also managing our waste processing centre.
Have you been able to use the authority of the local government?
The Constitution has given the local level many rights but laws have not been formulated to enact them. Similarly, the federal and provincial levels are also hesitating about giving power to the local governments. As a result, we cannot exercise our authority fully. The country does not have the kind of federalism our Constitution has envisioned.
Furthermore, we are yet to have fiscal and administrative decentralisation. The resources have not been distributed in the required way. The local governments work day and night to meet the needs of the people but they have not been given adequate budget.
Administratively, we still have to look to the federal government for all transfers and promotions. This is not what federalism is.
We need adequate and proportional distribution of budget, and institutional coordination among the three levels of government.
What do you want to turn Bheri Ganga into during your tenure?
I plan to make Bheri Ganga a technology-friendly local level known for good governance. We did not have an administrative building when I was elected. Now, we have begun work on constructing one.
My first priority is to root out corruption. The second is to make great leaps in road, electricity, health and education. I will also work hard to develop agriculture and tourism.
The federal government has put forward the plan to build a modern city in the Bheri Ganga Valley. How do you feel about this?
Building modern cities is a good thing. We will fully support this and provide all necessary assistance. But the centre should expedite work. Progress is too slow for comfort.