Jaleshwor is recognised as the first and oldest municipality of Mahottari district. Jaleshwor, previously known as the headquarters of Janakpur region, was declared a municipal panchayat on April 27, 1980. However, the place has not witnessed the expected development.
The Rising Nepal’s correspondent Nagendra Kumar Karna interviewed Mayor Suresh Sha Sonar, elected from the Janata Samajwadi Party Nepal in Jaleshwor Municipality on the development and issues of Jaleshwor. Excerpts:
You just mentioned about achievements, but what specific works have been done to be proud of?
All the works align with people’s expectations. Therefore, all are worthy of pride. However, we have transformed Laxmi Chandi Murarka Secondary School into a model school and resolved the disputes of other schools.
What initiatives have been taken to preserve an identity of Jaleshwor?
We realised the concept of Singha Durbar in every village for easy access of services to people. Based on this, we do not favour shifting district-level offices and former regional offices to the headquarters, which have been in the headquarters from the past.
What challenges hinder meeting public expectations including development?
People’s expectations have increased after the introduction of the concept of Singha Durbar in every village. Laws have been formulated, but the federal government still hasn't provided rights to exercise many of them. Therefore, we are unable to meet people’s expectations despite willing to do so. Constitutional rights for implementation of federalism should to given to the provincial and local level governments. Then only we can meet people’s expectations.
Jaleshwor was named after the Jaleshwor Nath Mahadev sitting in water. What have been done to increase tourist flow to the city?
The Jaleshwor Nath Mahadev temple is a historical religious heritage of Jaleshwor. From the past, efforts have been made to attract tourists to the temple and we continue to do so. We have maintained external beauty of the temple by colouring, lighting and keeping it clean and facilitating people coming there. A grand aarati is held every Monday. Though the temple carries Tereta Era significance, we have promoted it in various media as it is a Jyotirlinga.
What are your future plans?
We will give more priority to agriculture sector. There is a need of sustainable initiatives as we have experienced a scarcity of water during the summer season. For this, we plan to visit wards and identify water problems, study feasibility of irrigation and will come up with necessary solutions.
What are the internal sources and infrastructures of the municipality? How is it being managed?
The municipality has limited internal sources. Tax collection from Ward No. 1 to Ward No. 12, lease of ponds and others are the sources. We don’t have other options than to conduct development works from the tax collected despite providing ease to the public in taxes. The budget coming from the federal and provincial levels is also relatively low. The city needs job opportunities, but we are unable to do so due to limited income sources.
How has the management of waste and stray cattle in the municipality been addressed, despite apparent inefficiencies?
In the past, the city experienced severe waste management problems, but the situation is different now since the city dwellers have become aware of the issue. However, the stray cattle problem still exists in the city. Freeing cattle in the morning and evening by their owners have led to many road accidents. It has been challenging despite deploying municipal police. We are planning to build a ‘Kanji House’ to control stray cattle.
Manipal and dry ports are the plans to transform the city. What initiatives have been taken in this regard?
Manipal and dry ports are the backbone for the development of the area. Manipal College has been a dream of the people for years. We signed an agreement with Manipal a few months ago. Discussions on dry port issues have also been ongoing continuously with the Chief District Officer and other authorities.
Is there anything left to say?
We still have three years left. We are committed to fulfilling public expectations. More than 100,000 people in this area reach Lahan for eye check-ups. We are considering operating an eye hospital in Jaleshwor by coordinating and cooperating with Chaudhary Eye Hospital of Lahan. Jaleshwor Municipality has decided to provide 10 katthas of land near by Malwada Kuti for the eye hospital. We need to be united and think about developing the headquarters and creating employments. The municipality is always ready to provide land and resolve disputes. I want to convey a message to everyone to come together and contribute to the development of the district headquarters by utilising the available resources.