October 6, 2022, Thursday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Voters need to be cautious in choosing local leaders

Electing a dynamic mayor for KMC is a challenge for voters

The Nepal Weekly
March 1, 2022

By Purna N. Ranjitkar

The five year tenure of elected executives of the local bodies is going to complete soon by mid May 2022. The local elections held in 2017 were carried out in three phases on May 14, June 28 and September 18. It was the first local level election hold since the promulgation of the Constitution of Nepal 2015. The earlier elections for local bodies were held in 1997. That means Nepal did not have local governing bodies for 15 years. So as a lot of opportunities were missed due to lack of local leadership.

Recently Nepal Government had announced the second local elections to be held on 13th May, 2022. All the elections for local representatives will be carried out in one phase only.The government decided to hold ofthe elections according to the Local Level Election Act which does not envisage a vacuum of elected leadership at the local level. The term of local level representatives is due to expire on May 19. 

The Election Commission (EC) had said that there will be around 17.9 million voters in the forthcoming local level election. As per the constitutional arrangement, people above the age of 18 are eligible to cast vote in the election. There were over 15.4 million voters in the election held in 2017,the EC said that the number of voters has increased by 2.5 million in the past five years.

Now, political parties have started thinking on the suitable candidates while laymen also have begun talking the competent candidates who can carry the local agenda with priority.

Thus, people are now looking for the local leaders for their localities to lead better, make better and grow better. Competent candidate from any party may be preferred by many so as partisan candidate may not be the first choice in the local elections. As such, small parties with populist backgrounds may also hope for a better entry in some places.

In the present context, Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) voters are also looking for a dynamic leadership. The KMC mayor they expect to be a versatile personality who could not only steer the capital city administration but also coordinate all 18 municipalities of the valley and the surrounding local units as well for integrated development by solving common issues. People had experienced in the past that natural, cultural and economic assets of the capital city are not maintained well. The outgoing mayor also could not perform well according to the commitments he had expressed publicly.

The KMC and the entire valley had been lacking of result oriented policies on Land management, Waste management, Air pollution, Public Transportation, Public health, Preservation of cultural and heritage sites, Protection to original inhabitants, Squatters settlements, Street vendors, Federal Capital status, collaborating and coordination with other municipalities of the valley on common problems and solution and management of migrants from other parts of the country. Similarly, open places for health, recreations and other uses is another scope to consider as agenda.

Thus, the mayor of KMC to be elected by the second local elections should be able in bring back the glory of natural, cultural and economic status of the federal capital. The leader also shall have to forge strengths to direct the Kathmandu Valley Development Authority who is doing under stately mandate but without public consensus and supports. Coordinating federal government, provincial government and international organisations for technical and financial supports and exchanges is another expectable skill and capacity of the mayor to stir the KMC.As such, the candidates to be the mayor of the capital city should be one such dedicated person with wider vision, knowledge and capacity to keep up the glory of the capital valley.

Kathmandu is the capital city of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. It is the largest metropolis in Nepal in Kathmandu district. Bhaktapur, Lalitpur and Kathmandu are three districts in The Kathmandu Valley where around 3 million people reside these days while there are 1,472,000 people reside in the KMC according to the preliminary report of the National Census 2021.

The valley is historically termed as ‘Nepal Proper’ and has been the home of Newar culture, a cosmopolitan urban civilization in the Himalayan foothills. The city was the royal capital of the Kingdom of Nepal and hosts palaces, mansions and gardens of the Nepalese aristocracy. It has been home to the headquarters of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) since 1985.

Kathmandu has been the centre of Nepal’s history, art, culture and economy. It has a multi-ethnic population within a Hindu and Buddhist majority. Religious and cultural festivities form a major part of the lives of people residing in Kathmandu. Tourism is an important part of the economy as the city is the gateway to the Nepalese Himalayas as well.

Foreign visitors appreciate the climate of Nepal taking the Kathmandu Valley as an example where happens not too much heat in summer and too much cold in winter. No storm or tornado, no snow falls. One can view snow clad mountain peaks from north facing windows and roofs. Also one can see so many temples and devotees at almost every nook and corner. Festivals and cultural processions take almost every week The valley has never witnessed an effective survey on its strength of in natural and cultural wealth to be used. Unmanaged population growths, haphazard uses of land and resources have ruined the beauty of the Kathmandu Valley in last 40 years. The Kathmandu Valley which remained green and clean for ages has lost lush green areas, well cultivating fields, crystal clear water with native aqua fauna in the waters in the streams due to excess human encroachment. The high raisers are uglifying the valley which has already been turning to a concrete jungle. Effective measures therefore need to introduce in order to save its beauty. Extension of urbanization in name of smart cities or satellite cities will definitely lessen green areas and bring undesired results in near future. Likewise one other example of Melamchi water which is said to be available again before mid-April this year may not be enough for the present day population of the valley. Thus, a wider gap between demand and supply will be appeared as population is in the increasing trend.

The natural endowment of the Kathmandu Valley was much to be praised. The greens around the settlements and foot hills of the valley rim were still fresh in the memories. These may not be brought back but should have been maintained better. The Bigmati and Bishnumati rivers flow clean and clear waters with fishes in it may not be brought back but the slow and voluntary activities can just give satisfaction to the activists who witnessed black water turned to grey and claim of success in doing well.

The open places for different uses have been covered by government and non-government agencies and getting better rent from the constructed buildings. The eyes were somehow opened as people need it to use the Big Earthquake in 2015 AD brought inhabitants to surface.

In this connection, there is a need to review on government decisions to bring in non-polluting measures for environment protections and also expected to review the decision to extend smart cities in 4 clusters in different places covering 130,000 ropanis of fertile land.

In the broader scenario, the mayors of the capital cities are considered highly prestigious. Some in the big cities of the world had preferred to be mayor after being seated as the Prime Minister of the country. As such, the mayor to be KMC will have to keep up the value of international practices as well.