By Kshitiz Siwakoti, Kathmandu, July 1: The Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) has proposed free education up to secondary level for the children orphaned by COVID-19 through its budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
“According to a rough estimate, we believe that 500 residents of Kathmandu may have died due to COVID-19. We believe that it is our responsibility to sponsor education for such children who have lost their parents to Covid 19,” Saroj Basnet, Vice-Chairperson of the City Planning Commission department of KMC said to TRN Online.
He has further mentioned that the budget has primarily set its focus on combating COVID-19. Controlling the effects of COVID-19 which fall under funds allocated to health under the Social Development sector has acquired most of the budget allocated to this sector.
Basnet has said that the first and foremost priority of the budget is setting aside funds for acquiring vaccines. He has further mentioned that funds have also been allocated to contact tracing and building more isolation centres. “KMC is currently running a 50-bed isolation centre in Nardevi Ayurvedic Hospital and a 30-bed isolation centre in Chhetrapati Free Clinic. We plan on adding more to that,” Basnet said.
According to Prabin Pyakurel, the Deputy Director of the Finance Department of the KMC, the KMC has proposed to build a hospital solely dedicated to treating Covid patients.
There has been a significant increase in the coming fiscal year’s budget as compared to the current fiscal year. 10.8 billion rupees have been allocated to infrastructure as compared to 8.43 billion rupees allocated this fiscal year. 3.7 billion rupees have been allocated to the administrative sector and office operations as compared to 2.6 billion allocated for the same this fiscal year. 2.8 billion rupees has been allocated for social sector development as compared to the 2.5 billion given to this sector for the current fiscal year.
Along with Covid 19 significant emphasis has been laid on large infrastructural projects and the administrative sector.
More than half of the budget has been allocated to infrastructure. Ram Thapa the chief of the Public Works Department has said that 10.8 billion rupees have been allocated for infrastructure. He further mentioned that there are three major projects scheduled to begin next fiscal year.
One of them is a new KMC building which is expected to cost around 900 million rupees. The second is building 12 new ward offices to replace dilapidated offices and is expected to cost 500 million rupees. The third major project is to build a cultural centre at Dharmapath near New Road and is expected to cost 200 million rupees. “The cultural centre will showcase the different facets of Nepali culture,” Thapa said.
Chief Thapa also said that a major portion of the budget will also be allocated for a proposed five-storey vertical parking space in Teku. “Along with all these major projects we also have to maintain and renovate roads, bridges, etc,” Thapa added.
Despite an increase in the budget, the spokesperson of the KMC Ishworman Dangol has said that the budget is actually not enough to run Kathmandu. “We actually need around 20 billion rupees but this can only happen gradually as we can’t overburden taxpayers,” Dangol said.