Janaki Rural Municipality in Banke district has lagged behind in terms of development despite being near Nepalgunj Sub-Metropolitan City. The Rising Nepal’s Banke correspondent Govinda Sharma talked with the rural municipality’s chairman Ram Niwas Yadav about plans for its overall development.
How do you evaluate the works you have done to date as the head of Janaki Rural Municipality?
Development works are rapidly moving forward. Construction of the industrial corridor road connecting Khajurakhurda Chowk to Piprahawa Chowk has begun at a cost of Rs. 170 million. This money has been managed by the rural municipality itself. The main road connecting Saigaun and Shivapuri is also being blacktopped, along with most other major roads within the rural municipality. We have prioritised the construction of concrete-paved roads in most of the settlements of Janaki. These roads will facilitate travel around the rural municipality, especially during the rainy season. In old settlements, we are building roads with drains. The rural municipality is constructing its own building. As we border India, we have given special focus to the development of the border areas. Apart from this, looking at our work in the sectors of education and health, we are pretty satisfied with our tenure so far.
How successfully have you implemented your manifesto?
During the election, we had only made promises we knew we could practically keep. That is why, four years later, we have fulfilled almost all the commitments we had made. We are always with the people to ensure that the faith they placed in us during 2017’s ballot does not diminish. We are working to meet the short-term and long-term needs of the residents. Our manifesto has been fully implemented and we have received a lot of help from the citizens of the rural municipality.
What have you been doing to improve the quality of education and health services in Janaki?
There are six wards in Janaki Rural Municipality and all of them have secondary schools, but no colleges. So, to make up for the lack of institutions for higher education, we have been trying to establish an agricultural campus here. We believe that agriculture should be taught here because the regional office of the National Agriculture Research Centre is also located in our rural municipality. We have succeeded in getting Janaki declared a literate local level. In health, we are working to make the health posts in the villages well-organised and manage manpower to provide quality services and facilities. Foundation of a 15-bed hospital was recently laid.
Have you any new plan to implement in your remaining term in office?
It is more important to complete old plans than implement new ones. We plan to blacktop all roads in the municipality and pave the streets in dense settlements with concrete. We also might be able to reap benefits from the Sikta Irrigation Project. For industrial development, the rural municipality is working to develop an investment-friendly environment in Piprahawa, Ganapur and the surrounding areas. For the modernisation and commercialisation of agriculture, we have introduced programmes to provide grants and support technology in farming and animal husbandry, especially goat rearing. We are constantly coordinating with everyone.
What is the rural municipality doing to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19 in the area?
Janaki did a good job during the peak of the coronavirus outbreak in the district last year. The regional office of the agriculture research centre was turned into a district-level isolation centre along with some local schools. With the number of COVID-19 cases once again growing, we are setting up isolation and quarantine facilities in a more systematic manner than last year. We are aware that we border India and are moving hand-in-hand with the people and the stakeholders to prevent and control COVID-19.
How does Janaki feel about the calls to make Nepalgunj a metropolitan city?
We have heard talks of merging Nepalgunj and Kohalpur to make a metropolitan city. As Janaki Rural Municipality is located between the two cities, we should be consulted in this decision. There should be a clear basis on which to form a municipality, sub-metropolitan or metropolitan. If it will only add taxes on the people then we will not agree to it. We will only reach a decision after talking to the people. I think it is possible to reach an agreement on the matter through dialogue. So, I don’t think it is appropriate for me to present my personal views right now.
How satisfied are you with the support provided by the federal and provincial governments?
We are satisfied with the support we have received from the upper two levels of government. The assistance provided for the construction of roads and bridges has helped the local people.
You were also elected the vice-chair of the then village development committee in 1997. What differences have you observed between then and now?
The development budget was very low. We had to approach the District Development Committee for even the most menial tasks. But now, the development budget of the local levels has increased. The local governments’ works and rights have also increased. Thus, there are many differences between the local bodies of the past and the local levels now.
How do you plan to establish Janaki as an industrial hub?
Large factories are being established in Ganapur-Belhari, Khajurakhurda and Indrapur. The rural municipality is constructing and upgrading the roads in these areas to facilitate the operation of the industries. We are working closely with industrialists to see that Janaki benefits from industrial development.