Access to health services is our main focus: Chair BC

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Gurans Rural Municipality is a rural municipality bordering the capital of Karnali Province, Birendranagar. It was formed by combining the former Barah, Seri, Goganpani, Piladi and Lalikanda Village Development Committees. It is particularly renowned for commercial potato and vegetable production. Additionally, the rural municipality is adorned with rhododendrons during the spring. Our correspondent Kamal Sharma interviewed the rural municipality Chairman Top Bahadur BC regarding various aspects related to its tourism and future endeavors. 

What has been accomplished after you got elected as the chairman?


A local government is the government closest to the public. People expect more from such government bodies. We have been working as per the commitments made to the public during the election. Specifically, we have been working on making the functions of the rural municipality more governance-friendly, running people-oriented administration and working on physical, social and economic development. 

Nearly two years have passed since the election. In the first year, we focused on identifying and managing the basic needs, employee management and how to provide effective services to citizens. However, due to the difficult situation of service flow from the centre of the rural municipality, we couldn't provide services effectively to the citizens at home. We started services like distributing social security allowance at homes, plan agreements, health camps and reviewing tasks conducted by the rural municipality. 

During the initial six months, we faced challenges due to vandalism in the office regarding office management. There were even instances of gunfire. However, we later took action against those involved in the vandalism and brought them to court. Following the court's verdict, the issue was resolved.


What were the reasons behind the incident of gunfire in the rural municipality?

After the local elections, we were elected for the second term of the rural municipality. After being elected, we saw the problem of arrears in the rural municipality. Consequently, we halted the renewal of contracts for unnecessary staff and staff sent by the then-District Coordination Committee. However, temporary staff and the then-chairman of the rural municipality protested. During a meeting with the assistant chief district officer of the District Administration Office, tensions escalated resulting in gunfire and injuries.


After the incident, are there temporary staff in the rural municipality?

The rural municipality should appoint temporary staff based on its internal income status, conducting organisation and management (O&M) surveys and holding competitions. But, it was not done in the past. 

At present, we have appointed temporary staff after conducting O&M survey and addressing the demand of the office. 


How much arrears has the rural municipality reduced?

Due to unnecessary staff appointments, mismanagement and unnecessary expenses, the rural municipality had a lot of arrears. Today it has been reduced by 70 per cent. However, this is not the end. The Gurans Rural Municipality which ranked lowest in institutional evaluations conducted by the Nepal Government, including LISA, FRA and LED before I was elected, now we have achieved 56 and 75 in LISA, 81 in FRA and 65 in LED. 


What work has the rural municipality done in infrastructure sector? 

Over the past two years, the rural municipality has accomplished significant infrastructure development despite challenges in service delivery. We have constructed new service buildings and rebuilt schools in all wards of the rural municipality. We have also focused on road repairs, covering all wards. The condition of roads in our municipality is good, and we do not need to open new trails. We were spending Rs. 10 million annually on road maintenance so we have purchased necessary bulldozers and loaders for road maintenance in our municipality.


The rural municipality is a suitable place for farming. What work has the rural municipality been doing for the development of the agriculture sector?

Our main profession is agriculture. To generate income only through organised agriculture, Gurans Rural Municipality allocated a significant budget for agriculture sector development in the current fiscal year. Currently, the rural municipality's agriculture and livestock departments are operating agriculture and livestock farms commercially. If you visit our village, you can meet our staff in farmers' fields and pastures. During this period, we have established the Gurans Agriculture Development and Research Centre. Through this center, we are generating significant internal revenue, and we are providing agriculture services to approximately 50 per cent of the commercial farmers. 

This year, all farmers have made notable income. In the past, funds for agriculture were controlled under the name of agriculture grants. We are not just controlling; we are spending millions of rupees in the agriculture sector. We are providing training to around 150 young farmers aged 20-30. We are conducting programmes like Green Job and Green Karnali. We are operating various employment-oriented effective programmes, such as one ward-one agriculture industry, to encourage agricultural enterprises and this has been effective in preventing youth migration abroad. 

However, the problem we face is its commercialisation. Despite exporting vegetables to Surkhet and Nepalgunj, farmers are unable to get fair prices due to the influx of vegetables from India, leading to a situation where farmers cannot get the true value for their produce.


What work has the rural municipality been doing to improve the quality of education?

In the education sector, we have prepared and implemented a five-year educational plan. Under the Educational Improvement Programme, various programmes for youth, education, and sports are ongoing. Based on local priorities and potential, we have developed and implemented a local curriculum. Local textbooks have been developed for classes 1 to 8 to improve education quality. We have launched campaigns to regularly monitor school attendance, teacher presence, and parental involvement to enhance education quality in the rural municipality.


What work has the rural municipality been doing in the health sector?

In the health sector, the rural municipality has been managing human resources efficiently despite shortages. They operate health institutions effectively throughout the municipality, including running a five-bed hospital under their own resources. Recently, this hospital has been providing services with adequate facilities, including around-the-clock emergency services, partial services from medical officers, and the effective operation of an Ayurvedic service centre. 

Moreover, regular prenatal health checks, health camps, and counseling services are also provided regularly. Unlike in the past, when the hospital operated at a loss, now it has been generating revenue for the past six months, including regular services, without requiring citizens to obtain medicine once they visit the health facility.


What was the aim of organising Gurans Film Discourse?

We conducted the Gurans Film Dialogue amid the month-long Karnali Film Festival organised in coordination with the National Tourism Board held in Birendranagar. The purpose of this was to promote appropriate films related to Karnali Province and also those related to Gurans Rural Municipality through film screenings. Our effort was to contribute towards the development of cinema in line with the tourism sector of Karnali Province and specifically Gurans Rural Municipality. 


What challenges do local governments face?

There is a growing expectation for local governments to deliver more services. However, I have not encountered any specific difficult problems or challenges in local governance operations. There may be some doubts due to new structures and systems, but local-level government is the best practice in this system. Nevertheless, we face challenges in managing and operating employees, public ownership or reluctance towards local government jobs, social development, and law enforcement in the local government field. Excessive expectations from citizens and low internal income pose difficulties, but we strive to fulfill responsibilities among the people and citizens.


How is coordination maintained between the provincial government and the federal government?

We believe that continuous coordination and harmony between these levels of government are essential. However, we have sensed that effective coordination and harmony may be lacking. This could be due to political influences affecting the government's policies and procedures.


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