By Aashish Mishra
Kathmandu, Apr. 14: To uplift the lives of the socially and economically disadvantaged communities and bring about proportionate infrastructural development in the plains, the federal government launched the Terai-Madhes Prosperity Programme (TMPP) three years ago in the fiscal year 2018/19. Since then, it has consistently maintained an annual progress rate of above 85 per cent.
According to the TMPP Central Implementation Unit, the programme, which is an expansion of the former Border Area Development Programme, made physical progress of 88.31 per cent and fiscal progress of 86.24 per cent in its first year of implementation. In the fiscal year 2018/19, it built 450 community houses, 181 community infrastructures such as schools, birthing centres and health posts and 44 kilometres of roads.
Likewise, it constructed 20 agricultural development infrastructures and implemented 10 drinking water and sanitation projects along with a project related to disaster mitigation. Moreover, it also built two kilometres of structures each for irrigation and flood control and energy.
Similarly, in its second year, fiscal year 2019/20, the programme built 630 community houses, 259 community infrastructures, 8.36 kilometres of roads, 22 agricultural infrastructures, 22 irrigation and flood control structures and two kilometres of structures for energy. It also implemented three projects for drinking water and sanitation and one for disaster mitigation. This put its physical progress at 92.46 per cent and fiscal progress at 85.96 per cent.
This fiscal year, the programme is implementing 568 projects at a total cost of Rs. 1.49 billion.
TMPP works in 278 local levels of 22 districts of Terai, namely Ilam, Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari, Saptari, Siraha, Dhanusha, Mahottari, Sarlahi, Rautahat, Bara, Parsa, Chitwan, Nawalpur (Nawalparasi East), Parasi (Nawalparasi West), Rupandehi, Kapilvastu, Dang, Banke, Bardiya, Kailali and Kanchanpur.
“Our projects are focused on bringing about an integrated social, economic and political development in the local levels of Terai and Madhes that have a relatively lower Human Development Index Value,” Programme Director Bikau Kumar Yadav told The Rising Nepal.
Yadav explained that the TMPP worked in partnership with the local governments. “We ask projects from the local levels in January, evaluate them based on our budget ceiling and the projects’ capacity to deliver results and conduct the final selection in March. The local levels in charge of implementing the projects with us are only responsible for the monitoring and reporting parts.”
Yadav also informed that, under the TMPP, the local levels were required to invest at least 30 per cent of the total cost for road projects and at least 10 per cent of the total cost for other projects, with the remaining going from the centre. “We operate on a cost-sharing basis,” he shared.
However, working with the local levels also raises some challenges, particularly in reporting.
“Our reporting aspect is very weak. We have to ask the local bodies many times and they often do not follow the prescribed formats in their reports. We have dedicated software but they do not use it. I am sad to say that the reporting part is rather inefficient,” Yadav said.
He added, “Also, the local governments focus on demanding new projects rather than finishing the old ones. Every year, they ask for new projects rather than continuing on the unfinished projects. This creates a situation where we have a building but no roof or a house with no furnishing.”
The COVID-19 pandemic also forced the programme to rely on the internet to conduct orientations and interactions with the local levels. “However, not every place has a reliable internet connection. This hampered our abilities to stay in touch with the local governments quite a bit. Also, work on the progress stalled during the lockdown,” Yadav said.
But Yadav claimed that the situation was improving and work had picked up pace again.
TMPP works under the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration.