Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Four municipalities may get ADB support


KATHMANDU, Aug 30: The government has approached the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to launch urban development programs in four cities of the country.

The Ministry of Physical Planning and Works (MoPPW) has initiated dialogue with the officials of the ADB to execute infrastructure development programs in Nepalgunj, Janakpur, Dharan and Bhairahawa municipalities.

“We have proposed the ADB officials to support us in the development of infrastructures in the four municipalities. As per the preliminary negotiation, ADB is positives to support $50 million for the purpose,” Kamal Raj Pandey, joint secretary at the MoPPW, told myrepublica.com on Monday.

He further added that ADB would also extend its support to Project Preparatory Technical Assistance before the implementation of the program in those municipalities.

The multilateral donor has already expressed commitment to provide $60 million for the Secondary Town Integrated Urban Environmental Implementation Project to be launched in six other municipalities.

The government and OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) are also supporting the project. OFID has agreed to provide $17 million, while the government is chipping in $20 million for the implementation of four-year project.

“The ADB´s board has already approved the assistance and the cabinet will approve the project once the National Planning Commission gives its nod,” Pandey said.

Butwal, Birgunj, Biratnagar, Panauti, Dhulikhel and Banepa municipalities have been selected to implement the project.

The project will support for the development of infrastructures such as sewage, roads and water supply system, among others, which are included in the periodic plans of the concerned municipalities.

Software developers in search of better opportunities


KATHMANDU, Aug 31: It might be hard to believe that the history of software developers in Nepal dates back to the time of IBM computers era. It was in the mid-eighties that software developers started showing there presence in Nepal.

But despite having an impressive history of more than 25 years, different sectors, including corporate offices, are still relying on software developed by foreign companies.

Apart from private companies, a mega project of the government called ´e-governance´ is also working with Indian software developers as the major players. Though there are at last a dozen software companies, only a few of them are getting good market access.

Nepali customers are aware about software applications but the dependence on foreign software is higher.

Some of the major software developers have shared challenges and opportunities that they faced in their initial days with myrepublica.com.

Professional Computer System: Professional Computer System (PCS) started with data processing in 1988. After the introduction of IBM computers in Nepal, the company ventured into the software industry by introducing Devanagari script. The company was started with a group of four people with the investment of Rs 10,000 each.

"In the initial years, the focus was not just in the software development," Suresh Regmi, managing director of PCS explained. Regmi said the company also ran training for computer learners to cover operation cost. It was only after 1992 that the company started putting focus entirely on software development.

PCS is putting focus on utility industry software and also works for some government agencies.

Mercantile Office Solutions: The Company started its service from 1985 with just seven persons.

According to Surendra Bajracharya, managing director of Mercantile Office Solutions, the company developed Pumoree Banking Software, the first banking software of the country. Bajracharya claimed that their software covers nearly 80 percent of the market and has almost replaced foreign software.

This software developer is also working on delivery channels like SMS banking, ATM, Internet Banking and transaction security.

Info Developer: Info Developer was formed by some experts from the banking and IT industry in 2001.

Umesh Raghubanshi of Info Developer said their primary focus is not in selling products but in solutions and relationships. "We aim to give highly automotive services to financial sector at low cost,” Raghubanshi added.

The software called Finysys is used in 255 co-operatives across the country, while the next software called Infinity designed for banks is slowly picking up.

Opportunities and Challenges

Software developers opined that though the initial days were full of challenges, the sector now offer both challenges and opportunities. They said the basic problem is the lack of experts in the sector.

"Although the condition is getting better as compared to the scenario a decade ago, most of the professionals fly abroad causing shortage of human resource," Suresh Regmi of PCS said. He further added that the lack of government´s policy was another hindrance for the development of software industry.

Initial days were tougher from the market perspective. "The market is getting bigger with ample of opportunities at present," said Surendra Bajracharya of Mercantile Office Solutions. “Customers are now somehow convinced that software does not come for free.”

One of the software developers told myrepublica.com that some of the commercial banks believe that foreign software give better performance as compared to the local products.

"There are very few clients who want quality products," Umesh Raghubanshi of Info Developer opined, adding that a majority of clients look for low-priced software. “If anyone wants quality product, one should not hesitate to pay the suitable price for it.”

Monday, August 30, 2010

Nepali beauty to hit Hollywood

KATHMANDU, Aug 29: If you really want to achieve something, sky is certainly not the limit and nothing is impossible to those who wholeheartedly desire to achieve something in their lives.

One such example is Suesha Rana. Unfamiliar to many in Kathmandu, Suesha, 23, is already somebody promising for the people in Perth, Western Australia. While it’s a dream for many aspiring Nepali actors to get to learn acting abroad, this young pretty maiden of Nepal has already been a part of many celebrated Australian shows and she is now all set to move to Hollywood.

A true Libran in every aspect, Suesha is born to the late lyricist Sahadev Rana (the writer of the popular Nepali song “San Naniko Galaima”, sung by Phatteman Rajbhandari).

Suesha, who believes that performing arts was always in her gene pool, was blessed by the support from her parents since her childhood. Unlike many parents in the capital city of Kathmandu who dream of their children scoring 80 and above in Mathematics and Science, Suesha’s parents cared least about her academic scores. They gave their daughter enough space to explore and earn skill in whatever she was comfortable with. This gave Suesha further encouragement to pursue her career in performing arts.

“It’s my mom and dad who always nurtured and supported my decisions to take up singing, acting and dancing lessons,” Suesha, who is busy expanding her horizons into different theatrical troupes of Australia, wrote to Republica in an email.

Her love for acting started at a tender age of eight.

“I never knew then that acting was something that came rather naturally to me,” the beautiful lady shared.

At eight, she moved to Perth, and a year later, got her enrolled in St. Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls, popular for dramatic arts.

She was one of those few international students in Perth who actively took part in theatrical and musical shows very often.

As she grew up, she was involved in more complex characters and celebrated plays, such as “Macbeth” and “Henry V” by Shakespeare. Because she was completely in love with musicals, this passion in her took her to doing musicals such as “Anything Goes”, “Chorus Line” and “Alice in Wonderland” in different places of Australia.

Becoming an actor was not only the dream that she aspired to achieve. She also wanted to become a singer, and to make this happen, she involved herself in the school choir for seven years. Furthermore, Suesha joined the Barbershop Quartet, a popular musical choir worldwide.

She also took up lessons in ballroom and Latin American dancing.

As soon as she completed her grad school, she knew that the roads ahead would certainly not be easy and she needed to learn more to become an actor abroad.

She immediately joined open programs with NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Arts), the same institution where actors such as Cate Blanchett and Russell Crowe studied. Side by side, she joined the Perth Actors Collective and became the disciple of Anni Murtagh Monks, who discovered Heath Ledger, and James Hagen, a renowned drama teacher in Western Australia.

For those who truly have an ambition to fulfill, the process of learning never ends. Suesha is absolutely an example of this. Even after having enough education on acting, her thirst to learn did not end there.

She went to Los Angeles to get further training under Howard Fine, Amy Lyndon, and Dee Wallace Stone. These acting coaches have trained actors such as Brad Pitt, Simon Baker, Heather Locklear, and Lindsay Lohan.

With training going ahead smoothly, she started heading towards film and TV instead of theatre because there was a lot more for her to achieve.

“I got a role in the film by Melanie Rodrigues’ “My Past My Present” (nominated for best director by Australian Film Institute AFI). I also went on to do many short films like “Not Alone”, “Jesus Walks” and others. I also did a short film directed by Mark De Friest (A BAFTA winning director). A month ago, I just finished a theatre performance of “Lady Windemere’s Fan” by Oscar Wilde,” Suesha unveiled.

Maxine Howell Price from Actors, Suesha’s acting agent, often lands her in different commercials of Australia. She has already been on the hoardings of wineries, health insurance, ambulance, and has also associated herself with different anti-drugs campaigns.

Because Suesha settled in Australia when she was really young, she says she can’t say when she would come back to Nepal. Nevertheless, this upcoming actress is all ready to appear on Nepali silver screen if she is given an opportunity.

“The only Nepali movie I remember now is Prem Pinda,” enunciates Suesha and adds on Nepali film industry, “Nepali films should definitely be shown globally, especially since there are so many Nepalis around the world. Each of us living abroad can become good ambassadors of Nepal and demonstrate our culture through our movies which I know the western world will love.”

“Please dream,” she tells all Nepali young people and concludes, “Dream big and go out and get it, never let anything stop. I know, coming from a small and sometimes unknown country, some might find it more difficult to make a mark in this world, but I believe it’s not where you come from, but who you are as a person from within.”


Madhesi Front won't stay neutral: Upendra


KATHMANDU: Chairman of the Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum-Nepal (MJF-N) Upendra Yadav on Sunday said that the block of four Madhes-based parties—United Madhesi Democratic Front (UMDF)—will not stay neutral in the sixth round of voting in the prime ministerial election slated for September 5. The block commands 81 votes in the 599-member Constituent Assembly.

Speaking at a programme organised by the Rastra Samrakshan Saptahik to mark its 2nd anniversary in the capital, Yadav urged the major three parties—UCPN-Maoist, Nepali Congress and CPN-UML—to address the Madhes-related issues raised by the UMDF.

He said no party can steer the government without the support of Madhesi parties and warned that it would be unfortunate if they are ignored.

Yadav, who was a senior minister in the Maoist-led government earlier, accused the big three of holding the country their hostage.

The CPN-UML, which is third largest party in the CA, and the Madhesi parties been remained neutral in the prime ministerial election citing that the majority government could not resolve the crisis. The last five rounds of the elections for the new PM were futile due to the neutrality of the UML and Madhesi parties.

They have been arguing that the peace process and constitution-drafting can be accomplished by the consensus government only.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Breaching diplomatic protocols


Frequent meetings of the Kathmandu-based foreign ambassadors and diplomats with our ministers, secretaries and even the prime minister without absolute knowledge, let alone prior concurrence, of the foreign ministry have, of late, become routine phenomena. Our politicians, ministers and bureaucrats are always thirsty for such meetings and the diplomats are more than willing to quench their thirst. As a matter of fact, such breaches do happen in other countries, too. But, these are seen as exceptions, rather than a rule, as is the case here. Here in Nepal, nobody bothers too seriously whether such meetings have anything to do with the breach of diplomatic protocols.


However, this time a different and a very grave nature of incident has occurred. A sitting member of the constituent assembly (CA) has lodged an official complaint at the parliament secretariat against one diplomat. The timing of its occurrence and the sensitivities involved has made it even more serious. If proven, they constitute a flagrant breach of sub-articles (1) and (2) of Article 41 of the “1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations”. The “Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Relations and Human Rights” has rightfully directed the foreign ministry to investigate the allegations and initiate diplomatic action, as appropriate. Needless to say, the CA member’s allegations are too important to be overlooked. Full investigation, therefore, will have to be made to get at the bottom of the matter. This is absolutely necessary so as to uphold the sanctity and dignity of the CA, and that of the CA member. Concurrently, given the sensitivities involved, this has to be handled with equal diplomatic dexterity and tact. But this doesn’t mean we close our eyes on any open and flagrant breach of diplomatic norms and protocols. No diplomat guilty of noncompliance must be allowed to hide behind the diplomatic immunities and privileges.


It is interesting to note that mostly ambassadors from big and powerful countries have been often found in breach of these norms, taking undue advantage of the fluid political situation and the weak government in Nepal. The reasons are too obvious. These ambassadors have the means and ability to entertain and dispense favors, and our politicians, ministers and high-ranking bureaucrats are always the willing recipients. The reasons for meeting could be manifold; some of them are under the false impression that rubbing shoulders with powerful ambassadors would help to project and promote a better image of theirs, at home and internationally. Secondly, among others, these kinds of meetings may offer them real opportunities to push their personal agenda for soliciting scholarships and visas for their close relatives and their long desire for embassy-sponsored free foreign trips. What they fail, however, to understand is the fact that every favor given has to be returned in equal measure, and sometimes even more dearly. Naturally, problems and differences occur when the give-and-take deals become unacceptable to any one of the party involved.

Probably Nepal is one of the few countries where members of the diplomatic community receive so much of undeserved importance, to the extent that that they have been literally pampered.

Throughout my career, I have noticed that probably Nepal is one of the few countries where members of the diplomatic community receive so much of undeserved importance, to the extent that that they have been literally pampered. Perhaps, because of the excess importance we give them, some of these diplomats tend to overvalue their diplomatic status and are prompted to ignore the diplomatic decorum. They even feel it infra dig to meet and interact with anyone below secretary level. In this context, it would be appropriate to bring up an interesting incident that I encountered when working with the foreign ministry, as chief of protocol. One fine morning, I came across the news on TV about an ambassador-designate meeting with the then prime minister and also with the chief of the largest political party. The ambassador-designate had been in town barely a day or two ago and had not even submitted the copy of his “Letter of Credence” to the ministry through the Office of the Chief of Protocol, as per practice. I was rather aghast at the news and immediately contacted the then foreign secretary for confirmation. He had absolutely no knowledge of the news either! The next day he met with the foreign minister who was as much in the dark as we were. He made representation to the prime minister and registered to him the uneasiness and embarrassment the news had caused him and the ministry. But it was refreshing that the media, print and electronic, gave a wide coverage on these meetings with scathing comments, terming them as an open violence of diplomatic norms and protocol. Emboldened, perhaps, by his calls on the prime minister and other important political leaders, the ambassador-designate may have thought it redundant or below his dignity to meet the chief of protocol to take briefings from him for the credential presentation ceremony! His deputy chief of the mission called me the next day in my office to enquire if, instead of his ambassador, someone else from the embassy could come to meet me to take the briefing. Normally, in keeping with the time-honored diplomatic tradition and practice, every incoming ambassador-designate has to come to the Office of the Chief of Protocol for a briefing on the credential presentation ceremony procedures. I was surprised beyond imagination by his audacity to make such an undiplomatic request. Humiliating as it was, I was seething, yet I said to him on the phone calmly, “This is something every ambassador has been doing not only here but in every country, pursuant to the established diplomatic practices. I am sure, as a senior and seasoned diplomat, you must know about this diplomatic practice more than I. What can I say?” Smart as he was, he gleaned through the hidden meaning in my answer. Then he said, “Mr Chief of Protocol, I was merely joking, please don’t take it seriously, the ambassador will definitely come for the briefing and I will also be accompanying him”. Then the date for briefing was fixed and everything ended well. I must say, these two incidents are proof enough to underscore why we have been witnessing a steady erosion of respect for us and for our country in the diplomatic community. But the show goes on with impunity even as our national pride and dignity continues to suffer.

It is not that the ministry of foreign affairs (MoFA) has not done anything to streamline the system. During the time I was with the ministry, I recall MoFA having called several inter-ministerial meetings, including meetings with ambassadors, to get them to channel their diplomatic communication and meetings only through the foreign ministry. But the noncompliance continued then and continues now and, unfortunately, it has of late become more pronounced. Granted, this is a sensitive issue, but diplomats, too, should honor established diplomatic practices, and it is the responsibility of the ministry to ensure and secure compliance from them. The foreign ministry could perhaps be more proactive in monitoring non-compliance, seek explanation and even shouldn’t shy away from prosecuting the offending diplomats. Perhaps, it would also be prudent for MoFA to prepare a “comprehensive manual” in this respect and get it approved by the cabinet to give it more legitimacy and make it more effective. If it has already done so, then strict and effective enforcement of the same has to be ensured in cooperation with government ministers, bureaucrats, politicians, parliamentarians and foreign diplomats. It may not be possible to secure full implementation overnight, but frequent monitoring and prosecuting the proven offenders will help cultivate a habit of compliance by and by.

(Writer is former Chief of Protocol.)


MRPs finally!


Kudos to Madhav Kumar Nepal-led government for finally signing a deal with Oberthur Technologies, a French firm, to print Machine Readable Passports (MRPs) on Friday, thereby ending a yearlong row over procuring MRPs from international suppliers despite a significant opposition from the foreign minister and one of the heavyweights of the present cabinet, Sujata Koirala, and unhealthy pressure from various quarters. By giving a go-ahead signal to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) officials to sign a deal with the French firm, despite Koirala’s unfounded and silly objections and obvious displeasure, the cabinet has made the right decision to ease the sufferings, and at times humiliations, suffered by Nepali citizens while traveling abroad because of our handwritten passports with lax security features.

Friday’s deal will also help salvage whatever is left of Nepal’s reputation in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which made it mandatory for all countries to introduce MRPs by April 1, 2010 owing to valid security concerns of many countries. Since Nepal missed the April 1 deadline, it asked for an extension with ICAO, but the country again missed the extended deadline of Aug 1 and had to ask for yet another extension until Dec 31. Because of the way in which the MRP deal had so far progressed, there was a real danger that the Dec 31 deadline too would be missed making it more difficult for Nepalis to travel abroad. However, with Friday’s sealing of the deal with the French firm, Nepalis are hopeful that the government will not have to ask for yet another extension with ICAO, and that they will have the MRPs soon which will save them from hassles at foreign airports.

Although the signing of the deal is a move in the right direction, it does not guaranty that we will not miss the latest deadline. For meeting the third deadline, the government should provide Oberthur Technologies, which is now officially entrusted to print our passports, with all the necessary help it requires, including providing it with an office space in the MoFA premises. As this daily reported on Saturday, the government has to provide the French firm with a secure office space by next Friday to house the equipments necessary to personalize MRPs. While the government is at it, it should explain to the people the real reasons behind the delay in issuing MRPs and initiate actions against those who are guilty. People demand MRPs but they also demand an answer for the repeated delays in printing something as simple as MRPs.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Black box remains untraced

KATHMANDU, Aug 26: Shift managers at Kathmandu airport who coordinated air traffic control before, during and after Tuesday´s Agni Air crash say only the aircraft´s black box can reveal what led to the tragedy as the airport tower received no warning of serious technical or weather-related problems that could explain the crash.

Until the time this report was filed, the black box of the Dornier 9N-AHE aircraft remained untraced.

Generator failure?

Though flight crew had informed the tower about problems with the aircraft´s generator, airport officials rule it out as the cause of crash as the turboprop was equipped with backup batteries.

“The backup batteries were enough to last till Kathmandu,” said Purushottam Shakya, the airport´s shift manager, who oversaw Tower, Area and Approach sections of the airport when the flight took off for Lukla, was instructed to fly back to Kathmandu, and crashed.

According to Agni Air´s engineer Sarvesh Marasini, the backup batteries were capable of powering the aircraft for 30 minutes in the event of generator failure.

The backup batteries automatically come into operation in such eventuality.

The flight that took off from Kathmandu at 7:04 am was instructed to return to Kathmandu after Lukla airport reported deterioration of weather. When Captain Laxman Prakash Shah, who piloted the flight, contacted Kathmandu tower for the last time at 7:26 am, he reported that the flight was en route to Kathmandu.

Shah did not report any serious problem that could have led to the crash, according to Shakya.

“He was calm. He didn´t declare emergency, which is standard procedure in case a pilot loses control of an aircraft,” said Bimalesh Karna, another shift manager at Kathmandu airport.


Karna also rules out weather or lightening as the reason behind the crash.

“The weather condition was safe for flying back to Kathmandu,” he said.

Lightening cannot be the cause. Had a powerful lightening struck, the aircraft would have broken to pieces on air, which was not the case. Also, powerful lightening is uncommon when it is raining, according to Karna.


Route was also not a problem.

The aircraft stayed its course until it crashed. The south route via Makawanpur is the standard route for international flight arrivals. It is also the standard route for arrivals from Lukla in the kind of weather condition that prevailed Tuesday, according to Karna.

“For returning to Kathmandu and appearing in Kathmandu airport´s radar, the aircraft have to reach a point 16 miles south of Kathmandu. The Agni Air flight was on its way to the point, but it crashed eight miles east of that point,” said Karna.

The last time flight crew contacted the Kathmandu tower, the aircraft was at an altitude of 12,500 feet.

“For the region where the aircraft crashed, altitude above 9,500 feet is considered safe,” Karna said.

This leaves all questions left by Tuesday´s crash unanswered.

So, what happened to flight AG 101 after 7:26 am? Why did the aircraft almost nosedive into a small strip of flatland at Shikharpur? When did the pilot realize that something was seriously wrong? What were his last maneuvers to save the lives of 11 passengers, and his two colleagues?

“Only the black box can explain,” said Karna.

And only the German manufacturers of the Dornier aircraft can decode information that the black box, which remains missing, contains.

Sara´s second flight

Tuesday´s was the second flight of flight attendant Sara Sherpa after a hiatus of two months. Her first flight, which was scheduled for Monday, did not take off owing to bad weather. The second flight took her life.

A former flight attendant of Yeti Airlines, Sara had joined Agni Air nine months ago, according to Kesang Sherpa, sales manager of Agni Air.

“She joined the airline as air hostess, but later switched to the marketing department where she worked for two months. Eventually, she decided to go back to her previous role, but could not complete even a single flight,” he said.

Source: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=22546

Fourteen killed in plane crash

KATHMANDU, Aug 25: A German-built Dornier aircraft operated by Agni Air crashed at Shikharpur of Makawanpur district Tuesday morning while returning to Kathmandu after being unable to land at Lukla airport because of inclement weather.

All 14 on board, including five Nepali passengers, three Nepali crew members, four Americans, a Japanese youth, and a Briton were killed in the crash.

Though bad weather has been blamed for the crash, technical failure has not been ruled out. The government has formed a five-member committee headed by aviation expert Kumar Prasad Upadhyay to probe the crash and submit a report within 65 days.

After more than eight hours of continuous effort by a team of the Nepal Army and Nepal Police that was hindered by heavy downpour, body parts of the deceased were airlifted to Kathmandu Tuesday evening and sent to Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital for postmortem.

From Kathmandu to Shikharpur

The AG 101 flight was the first among about two dozen flights scheduled for Lukla on Tuesday.

“It was given a go ahead as Kathmandu´s visibility was 2,000 meters and VFR condition at Lukla was six kilometers,” said Purushottam Shakya, manager of Kathmandu airport´s Rescue Coordination Center that oversaw rescue efforts.

Such weather conditions are considered safe for aircraft installed with International Flight Rules (IFR) equipment.

The Agni Air turboprop with registration number 9N-AHE left Kathmandu at 7:04 am, after which a Buddha Air mountain flight also left for the Everest region.

But weather condition at Lukla worsened while the two aircraft were airborne and crew members of both were instructed to fly back to Kathmandu using the south route, also known as Radial 202 Route.

“The south route via Makawanpur is a common route in such situations,” Shakya said.

While the Buddha Air flight returned safely to Kathmandu, the Agni Air turboprop never arrived.

Flight crew reported to the tower for the last time at 7:26 am saying the flight was returning to Kathmandu.

The aircraft´s communication equipment was having problems right since take off on Tuesday. The crew had been told to report every five minutes. But they were barely managing to follow the instructions owing to unexplained temporary breakdowns of the communication equipment.

“But it couldn´t have led to the crash,” Shakya said.

Within minutes of the last contact with the tower, the aircraft crashed at Shikharpur of Makawanpur district. The crash site is 18 aeronautical miles (36 kilometers) south of Kathmandu. By road, the crash site is located approximately 100 kilometers from Kathmandu.

Following the crash, about two dozen flights to Lukla were delayed.

At Shikharpur

The aircraft crashed in front of Thakur Primary School at around 7:30 am, according to the school´s principal Rajdev Mahato.

“The flying aircraft suddenly crashed and exploded,” Mahato said, adding, “Some pieces of the aircraft reached the school.”

The crash left a seven feet deep crater, according to Mahato, who reached the site within five minutes of the crash.

Police deployed from Phaparbari and Hattisunde of Makawanpur district and Gimdi of Lalitpur district struggled to reach the site owing to bad weather as it had been raining in the district for three days, according to Superintendent of Police Ram Prasad Shrestha of Makawanpur.

The police personnel had to trek for more than two hours to reach the site, according to Sub-Inspector Indra Bhujel who reached the site for rescue from Phaparbari.

Shrestha said a Fishtail Air chopper reached the site at around 11 am. An army chopper landed at nearby Malta village at 12:30 p.m. and reached the crash site late in the afternoon with rescue specialists from Nepal Army and Nepal Police. An army team from a base in Phaparbari also reached the site later.

According to Shrestha, the crash site is surrounded by hills. There is a human settlement just 50 meters from the crash site.

Locals said the area located between the Chure and Mahabharat hill range has been witnessing dense fog for the past three days.

Mortal remains

Rescue workers brought the remains of the crash victims in two choppers to Kathmandu Tuesday evening.

Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal and the ambassadors of the United States, Britain, and Japan were at the airport when the choppers arrived.

Laxman Bhattarai, spokesperson for the Civil Aviation Ministry, said the remains would be handed over to family members of the deceased after postmortem.

In a statement, the US embassy offered its condolences to the families of victims and said it stands ready to assist the government of Nepal.

“The embassy has contacted the next of kin of the four American citizens who lost their lives in this tragic accident,” the statement said.

Tuesday was also the birthday of one of the crash victims, Irina Shekhets of the United States. She had turned 20 Tuesday.

Three survived tragedy

The aircraft was scheduled to carry 14 passengers to Lukla, but only 11 passengers turned up. The three who survived the tragedy are NL Sherpa, K Rai and P Wolf.

(With inputs from Upendra Lamichhane)

Crash victims
1. Ishwari Rijal, Nepal (Dhading)
2. Ashamari Rai, Nepal (Solukhumbu)
3. Prakash Amgai (32), Nepal (Gorkha)
4. P Sherpa, Nepal (Solukhumbu)
5. Pemba Norbu Sherpa, Nepal (Sankhuwasabha)
6. Yuki Hayashe (19), Japan
7. Jeremy Taylor (31), Britain
8. Irina Shekhets (30), USA
9. Levzi Cardoso (50), USA
10. Heather Finch (40), USA
11. Kendra Fallon (19), USA

Crew members
1. Laxman Prakash Shah (pilot), Nepal
2. Sofiya Singh (co-pilot), Nepal
3. Sara Sherpa (attendant), Nepal

Major crashes in the last five years

Date Operator Fatalities Place
21-06-2006 Yeti Airlines 9 Jumla
23-09-2006 Shree Airlines (Helicopter) 24 Taplejung
03-03-2008 UNMIN Helicopter MI-8 10 Ramechhap
08-10-2008 Yeti Airlines 18 Lukla
15-11-2009 Manang Air 1 Humla
24-08-2010 Agni Air 14 Makawanpur

Source: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=22512

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Makalu Air, Air Kasthamandap banned

SURKHET, Aug 25: The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) restricted five planes of Makalu Air and Air Kasthmandap from operating. The planes´ doors opened in mid-air Tuesday, according to CAAN. The restriction has been imposed for an indefinite period.

Makalu Air opted for emergency landing after one of the doors opened unexpectedly after three minutes of takeoff at 7 am Tuesday. After some time, Air Kasthamandap faced a similar problem.

The door of Air Kasthamandap plane opened as soon as the plane left the runway at 8:45 am and the flight was postponed. Both of the planes laden with commodities were Jumla-bound.

“Both of these airline companies have been restricted to fly until necessary examinations are done,” said Ananda Dev Bhatta, the office chief of CAAN, Surkhet. Makalu Air has two planes and Air Kasthamandap has three planes. The engineer of the security department explains that vibrations might have caused the doors to open.

Before this, a Tara Airlines twin otter had made emergency landing after one of its doors opened five minutes after takeoff.

Source: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=22507

14 including six foreigners killed as Lukla-bound Agni Air plane crashes in Makwanpur

Tuesday, 24 August 2010 08:28

Fourteen persons including eleven passengers and three crew members died on the spot when a Lukla-bound airplane crashed in Shikharapur of Makwanpur this morning as it was returning to Kathmandu after it failed to land on the Lukla airport.

Those killed include Capt. Lucky Shah, co-pilot Sophia Singh, air hostess Sahara Sherpa, and passengers R Rijal, P Humagain, P Bhote, K Rai and P Sherpa. Six foreigners - four Americans, one Japanese and a British national - were also killed in the crash.

The airplane crashed near a small settlement in Shikhapur VDC of the district. Reports say, the plane and body parts of the deceased is scattered all around the crash site.

The crash site is at least two hours walk from the nearest police post. Rescue personnel from Nepal Army and Nepal Police have left for the crash site.

The Dornier 9N-AHE belonging to Agni Air had taken off from Kathmandu airport at 7.05 am. It lost contact with the RADAR at around 7.30 am.

Sources say, the plane had encountered a technical failure in addition to the difficulty due to bad weather. According to reports, the pilot had reported generator failure en route to Lukla and decided to return, but the backup generator also later failed. Generator failure would mean the plane would have lost its cockpit avionics and would be effectively flying blind in rugged terrain and bad weather.

It was going to Simara airport after Kathmandu airport, too, was closed when it returned from Lukla.

The crash site is located about 15 miles south of Kathmandu and at an altitude of 9,000 ft.

Source: http://www.nepalnews.com/main/index.php/news-archive/2-political/8612-14-including-six-foreigners-killed-as-lukla-bound-agni-air-plane-crashes-in-makwanpur.html

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Parliament fails to elect prime minister, yet again


KATHMANDU, Aug 23: The parliament failed to elect a new prime minister even after holding the fifth round of voting on Monday as none of the two candidates -- Pushpa Kamal Dahal of UCPN (Maoist) and Ram Chandra Paudel of Nepali Congress (NC) -- failed to secure the required majority votes.

Dahal garnered 246 votes while 124 lawmakers voted for Paudel. The candidates needed at least 300 votes from the 599 active members in the 601-seat parliament to get elected.

During the voting for Dahal, 563 lawmakers cast their votes. Of them, 111 voted against him and 206 remained neutral. In Paudel´s turn, 567 votes were cast. Of them 243 voted against him and 200 remained neutral. Maoists have 237 members and NC 114 in the parliament.

Both the candidates failed to prove majority in their favor as the third-largest party CPN-UML that commands 109 seats and the United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF), an alliance of Madhes-based political parties that commands 82 seats, have remained neutral.

After the voting, the parties decided to hold sixth round of voting on September 5 and seek consensus on government formation till then.

Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal said that the UML would cooperate with the party that becomes ready to move ahead as per the UML´s proposal. UML Chairman Jhalanath Khanal reiterated his stance for consensus government.

NC candidate Paudel said the NC would emphasize on implementation of the past agreements on peace process. "We decided to spare more time before the next round so that we can put sufficient efforts toward forging consensus," he said. He said the NC is ready to discuss on the UML´s proposal of giving priority to consensus.

Earlier, an office bearers´ meeting of the NC decided to remain open to all alternatives to resolve the impasse if the Maoists agree to reach a ´package deal´ on issues related to constitution drafting and peace process.

NC Spokesperson Arjun Narsingh KC said there must also be an agreement on leadership and modality of the new government before withdrawing candidacies for the prime minister as demanded by UML and the Maoists. "NC is not ready to withdraw the candidacy in a void," KC added.

Sixth round polls on September 5

Himalayan News Service

KATHMANDU: With Unified CPN-Maoist, Nepali Congress and CPN-UML sticking to their guns, the parliament today failed to elect new prime minister for the fifth time. The sixth round of polls will be held on September 5.

Neither Pushpa Kamal Dahal nor Ram Chandra Paudel could garner enough votes to become the next PM even in the fifth round. A candidate should poll at least 300 votes out of 599 to become the PM.

UCPN-M’s Prachanda garnered 246 votes out of 563 votes cast, with 111 NC members voting against him and 206 members belonging to CPN-UML, Madhes-based parties and other fringe parties staying neutral.

NC’s Paudel got 124 votes out of 567 cast votes, with 243 members, including UCPN-M’s 237, voting against him and 200 members belonging to CPN-UML, Madhes-based parties and other fringe parties sitting on the fence.

Parliament’s Business Advisory Committee debated for two hours before deciding the date for next round of polls. “NC wanted a gap of at least two weeks so that the parties could reach consensus. However, the UCPN-M proposed to hold next round of polls within a week,” NC’s chief whip Laxman Ghimire told THT.

PM Madhav Kumar Nepal said after the House meeting: “Either the parties should elect a new PM or let this caretaker government bring the fiscal budget at the earliest.” He said the UML was planning to float a novel proposal and initiate discussions among parties for consensus tomorrow.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Astrologers to promote NTY-2011

Himalayan News Service

KATHMANDU: A delegation of Nepali astrologers, leaving for Thailand to participate in the 12th Asian Astrologers Conference, also has an agenda — promoting Nepal Tourism Year (NTY) 2011 — in their bag.

At a press meet organised today by Nepal Astro-Council, it was informed that besides their institutional agendas, the Nepali delegates would request delegates from other countries to visit Nepal. They are also going to request for an opportunity to organise International Astrologers Conference in Nepal in 2011.

The 12th Conference of Asian Astrologers will be held in Bangkok from 26 to 27 August. A delegation of 18 Nepali Astrologers, led by Astro-Council Nepal’s chairman Dr Lokraj Paudel is leaving for Bangkok on Monday.

The Asian Astrologers Conference is being organised by the Asian Astrologers Congress which is now chaired by renowned Indian astrologer Dr Ramkrishna Shastri and Astro-Council Nepal’s chairman Dr Paudel is vice chairman of the Congress. Nepali delegates will propose a code of conduct for astrologers at the conference. In their 11-point proposal, they have emphasized government recognition of astrology as a profession and have also floated the proposal to keep astrology free of religion.

Caretaker govt may present budget

Himalayan News Service

KATHMANDU: The caretaker government of Madhav Kumar Nepal is likely to present fiscal budget for the year 2010/2011 as the parties have failed to elect new Prime Minister time and again since Nepal stepped down on June 30.

The fifth round of the PM’s election is set for tomorrow. But it is unlikely that any one of the two PM hopefuls would get elected as the CPN-UML and four Madhes-based parties have decided to stay neutral calling for a national unity government.

Speaker Subas Chandra Nembang today called a joint meeting of the three major parties – Unified CPN-Maoist, Nepali Congress and CPN-UML – and United Democratic Madhesi Front at his chamber, where he drew the parties’ attention towards the looming political crisis and fiscal indiscipline due to the absence of an elected government.

Pushpa Kamal Dahal of the UCPN-Maoist, NC vice-president Ramchandra Paudel, UML Chairman Jhala Nath Khanal and Mahantha Thakur of the Tarai-Madhes Democratic Party were present during the meeting. The Speaker reminded them that the fiscal budget estimates should be presented to the House not later than September 16.

“The budget should be passed within a week of presenting the estimates, as there is very little time to follow due parliamentary procedures,” the Speaker said after conferring with the leaders.

Finance Minister Surendra Pandey has already briefed the Speaker about the seriousness of the country’s financial health. A leader who was privy to the meeting said the Maoist leadership would have no other option but to agree on presenting the budget by the caretaker government if the parliament failed to elect new PM before September 16.

The leaders agreed, in principle, to “take enough time” to discuss the issues of peace, constitution and power-sharing if tomorrow’s election fails to elect the PM, Narayankaji Shrestha, vice-chairman, UCPN-Maoist, told mediapersons.

Sources said the next election would probably be scheduled for September 10. A final decision to this effect would be taken during tomorrow’s Parliamentary Business Advisory Committee meeting.

Paudel, who is in the PM’s race from the NC, said they would require adequate time to discuss those issues. He said the first point of the three-point agreement reached among the three major parties on May 28 needed to be implemented. The first point talks about implementing pending tasks of the peace process.

TMDP chief Mahantha Thakur, who represented the United Democratic Madhesi Front in the meeting, said he asked the three major parties to resolve their disputes.

“But they must clarify what constitutes the national consensus,” Thakur said, adding that the Front would make clear its position about its next move in tomorrow’s meeting.

The Speaker urged the parties to find ways for the formation of the new government. He reminded them that the caretaker government could not be held accountable in the parliament and its committees. “I have told them that the country cannot be left without having budget in place,” he added.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Monarchy restoration possible with people's will: Paras

THT Online

KATHMANDU: Former Crown Prince Paras Shah on Saturday said that the monarchy can be restored in the country if the people wish for it. He, however, said his family will take up the prime role only if the institution’s authority and responsibility are cleary defined in the constitution in the making.

Talking to the reporters in the Capital today after his felicitation by the Khadgi Sewa Samaj Nepal, Shah said the people’s wish to see an “active monarchy” is but their concern to save the country.

Expressing his deep concerns over the political instability in the country, he said the royal family will not stay deaf-mute.

The first meeting of the Constitutent Assembly declared the country republic and brought an end to the 240-year-old monarcy in May, 2008.

Responding to a query regarding the chances of monarchy being restored with cultural role only, he said as the cultural monarchy has no authority there is no significance of it.

He, however, stressed on the timely completion of the constitution-writing.

When asked whether the Maoist leadership has met the royalties recently, he said, “A person who has been the country’s prime minister meeting us or we meeting him is not a strange thing.”

In a context, he said that it is not logical to relate the royal family with Hindu religion only.

Fringe parties press Big 3 for crisis resolution

KATHMANDU: The fringe parties representing in the Constituent Assembly (CA) on Saturday asked the major three parties--UCPN-Maoist, Nepali Congress and CPN-UML to break the political impasse that has intensified with the standoff in the prime ministerial election before August 23 by forging a national consensus among the political parties.Holding a meeting with the big three at the CA premises this evening, the fringe parties urged the former to find a solution to the crisis at any cost before the fifth round of voting of the prime ministerial election, which is slated for August 23.

According to Prakash Chandra Lohani, co-chairman of Rastriya Janashakti Party, the fringe parties warned of taking to a stern agitation including the boycott of the House if the big three failed to reach an agreement.

He said the three parties were urged not to take the country hostage to uncertainty.

However, the three parties reiterated their own stances regarding the present political political situation.

UML chairman Jhala Nath Khanal told the media that the hosts of today's meeting pointed out the need of a consensus government and argued that the constitution-writing cannot be completed without it.

Emerging from the meeting, he said the UML too has been advocating for the consensus government. According to him, the fringe parties asked the big three to end the political crisis.

Maoist vice chairman Narayankaji Shrestha ‘ Prakash’ and leader Dev Prasad Gurung and NC vice president Ram Chandra Paudel and chief whip Laxman Gimire represented their respective parties, while the representatives of the fringe parties took part in the meeting.

The four rounds of voting in the election has ended up in a standoff one after another as both the candidates in the prime ministerial race --Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal and NC leader Ram Chandra Paudel--failed to poll a mandatory majority votes to be elected the country's executive head.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Nepal Postal Service faces manpower crunch

KATHMANDU, August 21: The Nepal Postal Service (NPS) is facing a serious manpower crunch, but still managing to deliver parcels and letters on time.

“We´re delivering the parcels and letters on time,” Lok Prasad Acharya, Director General of Postal Services Department said.

But vehicular obstruction due to bandhs and other factors are affecting timely delivery, Acharya said.

NPS does not have its own vehicle to transport letters and parcels. As a result, it has to rely on long route public vehicles for delivering their services. When those vehicles are obstructed due to bandhs or some form of accidents, timely delivery of parcels is affected.

The postal service is supposed to have the strength of 20,000 staff . However, there are only 16,800 employees. The total number includes 10,500 part time employees. Currently, the post office has 3,200 vacant posts. For some of the posts, the postal service has been hiring employees on contract basis, Acharya said.

Furthermore, with the World Wide Web boom, internet has become a popular means of communication. This instant send-receive service of emails has affected postal service to some extent.

“Its not that people have completely stopped sending letters through postal services,” Acharya said. “The number of people sending letters has decreased to some extent due to the advanced telecommunication.” However, people still use the service for sending and receiving parcels, Acharya said. In order to keep itself functioning, NPS has also started to operate other services like money transfer, remittance, tele-center, and e-post.

According to the 2009 annual report, NPS generated a revenue of Rs 200,000,000, Rs 9,608,912 more than that of 2008. In 2008 AD, NPS had generated around Rs 195,000,000.
Nepal Postal Service, formerly known as General Post Office was established in 1878 AD. Currently NPS has five regional head offices, 70 district post offices, 3996 post offices throughout the country.

Source: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=22400

Friday, August 20, 2010

Karzai decree to cost Nepali personnel jobs

KATHMANDU, August 19: Thousands of Nepalis working in Afghanistan as security guards will have to leave the war-ravaged country by the end of this year under a decree issued by Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday.

Though there is no exact official figure on the number of Nepalis to be affected by the decree, estimates put it at between 15,000 to 20,000.

The presidential decree requires private security companies to disband within four months, according to the Associated Press, the US-based new agency. It further says that security contractors will have to either join the Afghan police force or cease operations by mid-December. The Afghan president wants to replace foreign security guards with Afghan security forces.

“Our embassy has taken up the issue and contacted the Afghan embassy here [Islamabad],” said Durga Bhandari, deputy chief at the Nepali embassy in Pakistan.

Nepal does not have a mission in Afghanistan and the Nepali embassy in Pakistan looks after diplomatic relations with Afghanistan.

NATO and the US military rely on security firms to protect their convoys and bases. These firms employ Nepalis, including ex-British Gurkhas and retired personnel of Nepali security forces, who risk their lives because of the attractive salaries.

“The Afghan immigration office has stopped renewing visas for foreign security guards, including those for Nepalis,” said a Nepali working for a US firm in Hemland province, Afghanistan, on condition of anonymity. “Some of our colleagues here have been overstaying.”

He also said that the Afghan president, during the presidential election in 2009, committed himself to voters to create employment opportunities for unemployed Afghans by making foreign workers leave the country.

Bhandari said he has been told by the Afghan embassy in Islamabad that the Afghan foreign ministry has already stopped issuing visas for travel to Afghanistan for employment.
Data at the Department of Foreign Employment says there are only 441 Nepalis working in Afghanistan. But the Nepali embassy in Pakistan estimates the figure at 15,000-20,000, based on information provided by individuals working in Afghanistan and the Afghan mission in Islamabad.

Such large numbers, government officials believe, reached Afghanistan illegally through manpower agents. The Nepali who spoke to Republica over the phone from Hemland said that the salaries they get range from US $ 500 to 3,500 per month.

According to AP, the presidential decree is expected to meet resistance from NATO officials, who rely heavily on private security companies to guard convoys and installations across Afghanistan. Officials in Washington have also questioned whether a four-month deadline is realistic.

The decree is not clear whether it will affect Nepalis working as helpers, cooks and loaders for foreign troops in Afghanistan.

Source: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=22346

DoC seeks clarification from gas companies


KATHMANDU, Aug 20: The Department of Commerce (DOC), a regulator of consumer products, has sought clarification from three cooking gas companies after they were found distributing gases without following standard norms and practices.

The action was based on the market inspections conducted by a high level High standard monitoring team on Wednesday and Thursday.

The three gas companies namely Himal gas, Everest gas and Sagarmatha gas were found to have violated standard norms and practices, said Kamal Bahadur Thapa, the market inspector from Department of Commerce

Based on our market inexertion report, we have asked all the three companies to furnish clarifications within a week, he said and added that further actions will depend on clarifications. "If the clarification is not satisfactory, we´ll file a case," he said.

Everest gas was found selling out-of-date gas containers which had already been banned. Similarly, Sagarmatha gas and Himal gas were found to have not adopted even minimum safety requirements.

According to Thapa, both the companies were found not properly checking the valves fitted in the gas cylinders before them sending them to the market. "The cylinders of both the companies were found at risks as they were violating minimum security requirements," he said. While opening the valve, the monitoring team also found some residual paste at the bottom of the cylinders, Thapa said. "The gases are dangerous to be in the market that way," he added.

Though both the companies have installed machines for hydrostatic, the machines were found manually operational.

The team also found leakage problems in Sai Baba gas and the company has also been asked to furnish clarification. Based on the complaints received at the department, gas cylinders issued by Saibaba gas were also found with leakage problems, Thapa told Republica.

Following an increase in cooking gas related accidents in recent weeks, the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies formed the team for the quality monitoring of gas cylinders and distribution system.

According to department officials, the serious lapses related to consumer security found in the gas cylinders are worrisome.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Delay over MRI machine at TUTH costs public

KATHMANDU, Aug 19: People have been forced to go to private facilities for MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) as a new MRI machine bought by Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH) remains unused even over three and half months after delivery.

The Army Hospital and BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences (BPKIHS) in Dharan in eastern Nepal are the only public institutions providing MRI in Nepal.
With the Army Hospital not accessible to civilians, patients in Kathmandu and those from other parts of the country who come here for treatment are forced to cough up more money to avail of the service at private centers.

TUTH has not disclosed the new MRI rate, but hospital sources said it was around Rs 3,000-4,000 cheaper than at private centers when the hospital was providing the service with an old machine that became obsolete over three years ago. Private centers currently charge around Rs 9,000 for the facility.

Capital Enterprises supplied the US$ 428,000 (around Rs 32 million) Hitachi machine at TUTH. As things stand, it will take around a month more for the machine to become operational and even TUTH Director Dr Keshav Prasad Singh admits the installation would take another three weeks to function.

Both the hospital and the supplier, which has to hand the machine over to the hospital in an operational state, call it procedural delay. The machine arrived at the hospital on April 28 but it had to be left within the container on the lorry for the next 39 days as the hospital had not made preparations for installing it.

“We had to remove the old, obsolete machine before installing the new one,” Dr Singh said. The hospital had been going through a lengthy process of procuring the new MRI machine ever since the old one became obsolete, and we were regularly apprised by the suppliers of the arrival date of the new machine. But no arrangements were made for removing the old before the arrival of the new.

“We initiated the process of removing the old machine a year ago, but no applications were received when we called tenders for the job,” Dr Singh said explaining the inexplicable delay. “We finally had to negotiate with one party to carry out the removal,” administrative head at the hospital Chandra Kumar Rai said.

The machine, which is basically a big magnet using a powerful magnetic field for imaging, cannot be unpacked from the container and left around like any ordinary apparatus. The lorry, therefore, had to be kept waiting for 39 days before a place was cleared for the new MRI machine.

Apart from denying people the facility and foregoing possible revenue generation, the delay also meant that the hospital, currently facing a financial crunch, has had to incur additional expenses in keeping the lorry waiting for 39 days. But the hospital refused to disclose the additional cost for the lorry and even the suppliers said nothing more than that they have reached an agreement with the hospital on apportioning the addition cost.

“The machine has to be kept inside a shielded room,” a technician from the suppliers working at the hospital said. “Because of delay in clearing away the old machine, we had to repeatedly cancel the arrival of our engineers here for unloading the new MRI machine and constructing the shield inside the room for housing it,” the technician added.

Source: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=22331

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

After Digendra, son also commits suicide

JHAPA, Aug 16: In a span of just three months, 50-year-old Pramila Rajbanshi has lost both her husband and her son to suicide.

Pramila´s husband Digendra, who was part of the Jhapa movement of 1971, committed suicide in April. And last Sunday, her 23-year-old son Shambhu also committed suicide.

Digendra committed suicide on April 17 at CPN (UML) headquarters at Balkhu after being unable to find a job for Shambhu. Digendra´s decision to end his life came after repeated requests to leaders of the ruling UML to find his son employment did not succeed.

And on Sunday, the son also followed suit after finding it impossible to live with a sense of guilt over his father´s suicide. Shambhu hanged himself near the family´s rented quarters close to Charali bazaar area.

"My husband committed suicide after being unable to find our son a job," said Pramila. "And our son did likewise, believing he was responsible for his father´s death."

It was a tragic manifestation of affection between father and son.

According to the Rajbanshi family, Shambhu, who completed his SLC in 2008, had become unstable after his father´s suicide.

Shambhu had taken a year´s leave from the Maoist First Division headquarters at Chulachuli. As his family´s economic condition is weak, Shambhu, at the behest of his father, traveled to Kathmandu in April to look for a job.

His father had told him that finding a job wasn´t a big deal as K P Oli, Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhalanath Khanal were all his friends.

"But he put an end to his life after being unable to find me a job," Shambhu had told Republica while observing the last rites for his father.

According to family members, Digendra became disillusioned after K P Oli told him to send Shambhu to his house if he didn´t find work.

"Shambhu repeatedly lamented that his father died because of him," said Shambhu´s elder brother Rishi, who flew in from Saudi Arabia a month ago. "The feeling of guilt eventually took his life," he added.

The Rajbanshi family had shifted to rented quarters after their house became inundated. Shambhu committed suicide at the rented quarters.

After Digendra´s death, the UML had pledged the Rajbanshi family one kattha of land, a house and Rs 200,000.

"Shambhu´s misery worsened after that pledge appeared nowhere close to becoming a reality," said Rishi.

However, UML Jhapa Chairman Rabin Koirala said a sum of Rs 500,000 given by the government under UML initiative has already been deposited in Pramila´s bank account.

The family, which until some time ago included two sons, a husband, a wife and a daughter, is now down to three members. The Family earns a livelihood working for daily wages.

Source: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=22284

Veg supplies down in Kalimati market

KATHMANDU, Aug 16: Vegetables produced in and around the capital are finding their way to other major cities across the country, thanks to comparatively higher price offer amid supply deficit in this rainy season.

Supply of vegetables from adjoining areas of the Kathmandu Valley is being diverted to other cities such as Pokhara, Narayanghat, Butwal, Bhairawa, Biratnagar and other Tarai districts in recent days.

“Even major suppliers of vegetables like Chitwand and Kaski are importing vegetables from the capital´s surrounding districts like Kavre, Nuwakot and Dhading,” said Bharat Khatiwada, president of Kalimati Vegetables Wholesalers´ Association. “Some traders are supplying vegetables even to Indian cities like Siliguri due to attractive prices.”

He further added that farmers in districts adjoining the capital are supplying vegetables to other parts of the country because of high prices of vegetables there. “Traders are supplying vegetables like capsicum, radish, tomatoes, potatoes and smooth gourds produced in districts adjoining the capital to other cities,” he added.

Arrivals of vegetables at the Kalimati market - the largest vegetable wholesale market in the country - has declined in recent months with the establishment of new market centers at different entry points of the capital. Vegetable arrival in the market is generally lean at this time of year as farmers are busy in paddy fields instead of vegetable farms.

Traders said opening of new market centers has reduced supplies of vegetables in the market and subsequently pushed the prices up. They said prices of popular vegetables like tomatoes, green chilly, capsicum, green pea and cabbage, among others have gone up in the capital.

According to Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market Development Board - that manages the Kalimati Wholesale Market, wholesale prices of big tomatoes and red potatoes have increased to Rs 45 and Rs 19 from Rs 44 and Rs 16 per kg respectively over the last couple of weeks. Similarly, prices of dry onion and have also gone up to Rs 22 and Rs 14 per kg from Rs 21 and Rs 13 per kg respectively.

However, some seasonable vegetables have become cheaper over the period, thanks to improved supplies. Prices of bitter gourd and bottle gourd have dropped to Rs 20 and Rs 18 per kg from Rs 38 and Rs 34 per kg respectively. Similarly, pointed gourd, snake gourd and cucumber are selling cheaper at Rs 22, Rs 25 and Rs 32 per kg from Rs 26, Rs 40 and Rs 48 per kg respectively.

Monday, August 16, 2010

बिमाप्रति बढ्दैछ सर्वसाधारणको आकर्षण

काठमाडौँ, साउन ३० गते । इतिहास लामै भए पनि नेपालको बिमा व्यवसाय पछिल्ला वर्षहरूमा केही फस्टाउँदै गएको छ । गत आर्थिक वर्ष २०६६/०६७ मा देशभरका विभिन्न बिमा कम्पनीमार्फत १५ अर्ब ४० करोड रुपियाँ बिमा शुल्क उठेको बिमा समितिले जनाएको छ । समितिले सार्वजनिक गरेको तथ्याङ्कअनुसार जीवन बिमाबाट आठ अर्ब ९० करोड रुपियाँ र निर्जीवन बिमाबाट छ अर्ब ५० करोड रुपियाँ शुल्क उठेको हो । नेपालमा निजी क्षेत्रका १६ वटा कम्पनीले निर्जर्र्ीवन, आठवटा कम्पनीले जीवन र राष्ट्रिय बिमा संस्थानले जीवन तथा निर्जीवन दुवै किसिमको बिमा गर्ने गरेका छन् ।

अघिल्लो आर्थिक वर्ष २०६५/०६६ मा देशभरका विभिन्न २५ बिमा कम्पनीले निर्जीवनमार्फत छ अर्ब ५० करोड रुपियाँ र जीवन बिमामार्फत चार अर्ब ४० करोड गरी १० अर्ब ९० करोड रुपियाँ शुल्क उठाएका थिए ।

नेपालमा पहिलोपटक बिमा व्यवसाय निजी क्षेत्रअन्तर्गतको नेपाल इन्स्योरेन्स कम्पनी लिमिटेडले २००४ साल असोज ८ गतेबाट प्रारम्भ गरेको इतिहास पाइन्छ । त्यतिखेर निर्जीवन बिमाबाट मात्र बिमा व्यवसाय सुरु भएको थियो । बिमा ऐन, २०४९ ले दिएको अधिकार प्रयोग गरी बिमा समितिले बिमक दर्ताको लागि विभिन्न प्रक्रिया पूरा गर्नुपर्ने हुन्छ ।

बिमकका सञ्चालकमध्ये कम्तीमा एकतिहाइ सञ्चालक स्नातक वा सोसरहको परीक्षा उत्तीर्ण भएको र कम्तीमा एकतिहाइ सञ्चालक उद्योग, व्यापार वा पेसागत सेवामा संस्थापक वा सञ्चालक रही कम्तीमा पाँच वर्षको अनुभव भएको हुनुपर्नेछ । बिमा समितिका अध्यक्ष डा फत्तबहादुर केसीले मानिसमा जीवन र वस्तुप्रतिको जोखिमका सन्र्दभमा चेतना वृद्धि हुँदै गएकाले प्रत्येक वर्ष बिमाको कारोबार अङ्क बढ्ने क्रममा रहेको जानकारी दिनुभयो ।

जनचेतनाको कमीका कारण बिमाप्रति अझै सकारात्मक दृष्टिकोण नपुग्नुले पनि सरकारको प्राथमिकताभित्र र सर्वसाधारणको पहुँचभित्र बिमा पर्न नसकेको बताउँदै केसीले संस्थागत सुशासनका लागि पारदर्शिताको अभावले गर्दा पनि विगतमा आवश्यक अनुगमन गर्न कठिन बताउनुभयो । राष्ट्रिय बिमा संस्थानले आर्थिक वर्ष २०६६/०६७ मा एक अर्ब ५४ करोड २७ लाख ५१ हजार ६४८ को कारोबार गरेको छ । देशभर भएका विभिन्न २५ वटा बिमा कम्पनीमध्ये १६ वटा कम्पनीले निर्जीवन बिमा र आठवटा कम्पनीले जीवन बिमा गर्ने गरेका छन् भने बिमा संस्थान एक मात्र संस्था हो जसले दुवै किसिमको बिमा गर्ने गरेको छ ।

संस्थानले अघिल्लो आर्थिक वर्ष २०६५/६६ मा जीवन बिमाअन्तर्गत रू. एक अर्ब २६ लाख ७० हजार २१ र निर्जीवनअन्तर्गत रू. १९ करोड आठ लाख ५९ हजार ८६५ गरी कुल रू. एक अर्ब १९ करोड ३५ लाख २९ हजार ८८६ को कारोबार गरेको थियो ।

अघिल्लो आर्थिक वर्ष २०६५/६६ को तुलनामा पछिल्लो आर्थिक वर्ष २०६६/६७ मा सो संस्थानले करिब रू. ३१ करोडको हारहारीमा कारोबार वृद्धि गरेको हो ।

सो संस्थानका प्रशासक विनोद अर्यालले बिमाको कारोबार केही मात्रामा वृद्धि भएको भए पनि ग्रामीण भेगसम्म बिमा विस्तार हुन नसकेकाले धेरै जनताको पहुँचमा बिमा पुग्न नसकेको बताउनुभयो । यसै स्थितिलाई ध्यानमा राखी संस्थानले ग्रामीण क्षेत्रलाई लक्ष्य गरेर विभिन्न कार्यक्रमअन्तर्गत स्वास्थ्य बिमा, बाली बिमा र पशु बिमाको योजनालाई सक्रिय बनाउन लागेको उहाँले बताउनुभयो ।

राष्ट्रिय बिमा संस्थानले २०२४ साल फागुन ११ गतेदेखि बिमा व्यवसाय सुरु गरेकोमा अहिले देशका करिब ७५ वटा जति संस्थागत ग्राहक व्यवसाय विस्तार गरी लगभग ७५ हजारलाई जीवन बिमा सेवा प्रदान गरेको छ । अन्य क्षेत्रमा निर्जीवन बिमा सेवा उपलब्ध गराई वाषिर्क करिब ३५ करोड रुपियाँ पि्रमियम आर्जन गर्न सफल रहेको अर्यालले बताउनुभयो ।

अर्थशास्त्री राधेश्याम मालाकारले मानिसको सामान्य जनजीवनमा यान्त्रीकरण र जटिलताको प्रवेश तथा वाणिज्य एवं औद्योगिक गतिविधिलाई सक्रिय बनाउनका निमित्त ठूलो पुँजी लगानीको खाँचो पर्ने भएकाले देशभर छरिएर रहेको पुँजी एकत्रित गरी पुँजी सङ्कलनका लागि बिमा कम्पनीको भूमिका महìवपूर्ण हुने बताउनुभयो ।

औद्योगिक क्षेत्रमा हुनसक्ने दुर्घटना एवं जोखिम, प्राकृतिक प्रकोपबाट हुन जाने सम्भावित भौतिक क्षतिको सुरक्षणका लागि बिमाको आवश्यकता मानिसहरूले बिस्तारै बुझ्न थालेका छन् । हिजोआज समाचार माध्यमहरूमा दिनहुँ विभिन्न दुर्घटना र मृत्युका समाचारले स्थान पाउने गरेकाले पनि बिमा व्यवसायप्रति सर्वसाधारणको आकर्षण बढेको मालाकार बताउनुहुन्छ । रासस

Source: http://www.gorkhapatra.org.np/gopa.detail.php?article_id=38504&cat_id=19

Insurance business growing

Rastriya Samachar Samiti

KATHMANDU: The insurance business that has nearly six-decade old history in Nepal has witnessed a significant growth in recent years. In the last fiscal year, different insurance companies registered a total transaction of Rs 14.4 billion, according to the Beema Samiti (Insurance Board). According to the statistics provided by the Board, life insurance saw a transaction of Rs 8.9 billion and no-life insurance Rs 6.5 billion.

Over 16 companies are providing non-life insurance service while eight companies are providing life insurance service. Rastriya Beema Sansthan provides both life and non-life insurance services.

In the previous fiscal year, the 25 companies had registered a total transaction of Rs 10.9 billion including Rs 6.5 billion in non-life insurance and Rs 4.4 billion in life insurance.

Nepal Insurance Company had begun the insurance business for the first time in Nepal on Jestha 4 2008 BS through non-life insurance.

Chairman of the Insurance Board Dr Phatya Bahadur KC said increased awareness among the people about the risks associated with life and goods has been leading to a growth in insurance business.

KC said there is still lack of positive attitude about insurance while it has also not been on government’s priority and insurance is yet to come within the reach of commoners.

Besides, the lack of transparency also hampered monitoring in the sector in the past, he said.

Rastriya Beema Sansthan recorded transaction of Rs 1.542 billion including Rs 1.2 billion in life insurance and Rs 340 million in non-life insurance in the last fiscal year. In the previous fiscal year, Beema Sansthan has recorded business of Rs 1.026 billion from life insurance and Rs 190.8 million from non-life insurance.

Administrator at Beema Sansthan Binod Aryal said the reach of insurance to rural population is yet to grow even though insurance business is growing in the urban centers. He said keeping in view with the little access of rural population to insurance, the Beema Sansthan is launching different insurance schemes like health insurance, crop insurance and livestock insurance. The Rastriya Beema Sansthan began its business in 2024 BS and it has expanded its services to all 75 districts.

It has been providing life insurance service to over 75,000 employees. From both life and non-life insurance, the company has been earning around Rs 350 million premium every year.

Economist Radheshyam Malakar said insurance companies play a great role in collecting the capital spread across the country. With awareness about the accidents and risks associated with industrial sector and risks posed by natural disasters, many people have started understanding the importance of insurance, Malakar said.

Source: http://www.thehimalayantimes.com/fullNews.php?headline=Insurance+business+growing+&NewsID=253835

Insecure capital city

It is no longer a secret that the law and order situation of Nepal has taken a serious beating in the past couple of years but an undisclosed Nepal Police report, which reveals that there are about 10,000 illegal small arms just inside the capital city, clearly suggests that things are worse than we might have so far imagined it to be. The fact that those using these arms include the Maoists’ Young Communist League and CPN-UML’s Youth Force is also a clear indication that the line between politics and crime is gradually blurring in the country.

The Nepal Police report throws some interesting insights. It mentions the names of the top places within the valley’s three districts – Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur – where the transaction of these illegal arms takes place. The report further reveals that the arms are mostly used for robbery, extortion and kidnapping. Besides political groups, the report says that those prone to use illegal arms include business people, those in the entertainment business, contractors, owners of manpower companies, realtors, among others. After having such incisive leads, it would be an utter shame if the police is not able to do something in the days ahead to curtail this trade and bring the offenders to book. We expect nothing less.

It is clear from the report that if the problem has to be nipped at the bud, then we must have a tighter monitoring mechanism at our borders because most of these arms make it to Nepal from the nearby Indian towns of Raxaul, Louki, Mujjafarpur, Jogbani, Lucknow, Sunouli, Banbasa and Gourifanda. Since a Nepali society minus criminal activities is also in India’s interest considering that we share a 1,800km-long border with it, both Nepal and India must work in tandem to jointly address this issue. We urge the two sides to sit together and discuss this problem and find working solutions to it.

Due to prolonged political crisis resulting in a pathetic law and order situation, we have today reached a situation where no one stands to gain. Well-off people keep arms at their disposal because they can no longer trust the state’s security apparatus. But they are doing this violating the laws of the land. Common people who carry on with their daily lives with utmost honesty have to ironically live in an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. Something surely is terribly wrong, and it has to be righted without any further delay. The government must not only confiscate all the illegal small arms but must make utmost use of the cues that is has so painfully gathered and put a full stop to this illegal business once and for all.

Source: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=22250

Sunday, August 15, 2010

स्वास्थ्य बिमा ३ प्रतिशत

सुदर्शन सापकोटा, काठमाडौं, साउन ३०- - मृगौला रोगबाट थलिएकी श्रीमतीको उपचार गराउन नसक्दा बाग्लुङका तुलबहादुर पुनले गएको शनिवार अस्पतालमै आत्महत्या गरे।
- गुल्मी घमिर गाविस-२ का ३६ वर्षे लोकबहादुर कार्कीले यही जेठ २४ गते आत्महत्या गरे। छारे रोगका बिरामी कार्की ऋण काढेर उपचार गराइरहेका थिए। आर्थिक समस्याले खर्च धान्न नसकेपछि झुन्डिए।

- रुकुमको भलाक्चा-१ बस्ने ओली परिवारले सामूहिक आत्महत्या गर्नुमा पनि उपचार खर्चको अभावै मुख्य कारण थियो। छारे रोगबाट पीडित २७ वर्षे छोरी तुलसालाई स्वस्थ बनाउने सारा प्रयास विफल भएपछि बाबु दलबहादुर र आमा कलीले फागुन ३ गते छोरीसहित आत्महत्याको बाटो रोजे।

- सोलुखुम्बु, काँकु-२ की २६ वर्षे सुविला राईको दुवै मृगौला बिग्रिएको छ। उनले राष्ट्रिय मृगौला केन्द्र वनस्थलीमा महंगो प्रविधिको डाइलसिस उपचार गराइरहेकी छन्। थप उपचार गर्न आर्थिक अवस्था नभएको भन्दै उनले पत्रिकामार्फत् आर्थिक सहयोगको याचना गरेकी छन्।

उपचार खर्च थेग्न नसक्दा आत्महत्या गर्ने, र सहयोग याचना गर्ने माथिल्ला घटनाले स्वास्थ्य सेवा सर्वसाधारणको क्षमताभन्दा महंगो हुँदै गएको तथ्य उजागर गर्छ।
यही समस्यासँग जुध्न विकसित देशहरूले सरकारी स्तरमै 'स्वास्थ्य बिमा' कार्यक्रम ल्याएका छन्। नेपालमा भने यस्तो कार्यक्रम छैन। गत आर्थिक बर्षको बजेटमा स्वास्थ बिमा कार्यक्रमलाई समेटिए पनि कार्यान्वयनमा आउन सकेन।

स्वास्थ्य बिमा गर्ने उद्देश्य बोकेर स्थापना भएका सरकारी तथा निजी क्षेत्रका बिमा कम्पनीले पनि यसमा चासो देखाएका छैनन्। सर्वसाधारणको दैनिक जीवन र आर्थिक भारसँग प्रत्यक्ष सरोकार राख्ने यस्तो बिमा गर्न तपाई बिमा कम्पनी जानु भयो भने खाली हात फर्कनु पर्छ।

बिमा कम्पनीहरूले संगठित रूपमा आउने समूहलाई मात्र स्वास्थ्य बिमा पोलिसी बेच्छन्। उदाहरणका लागि, तपाईं कुनै अफिसको कर्मचारी हुनुहुन्छ भने त्यो अफिसले संगठित रूपमा आफ्ना कर्मचारीको स्वास्थ्य बिमा गराउनसक्छ। तर, तपाईंले आफू र आफ्नो परिवारका सदस्यको व्यक्तिगत स्वास्थ्य बिमा गराउन पाउनुहुन्न।

नेपालमा स्वास्थ्य तथा दुर्घटना बिमा गराउनेको संख्या कम हुनुको मुख्य कारण यही हो। बिमा कम्पनीहरुका अनुसार सबै किसिमका गैरजीवन बिमा कारोबारमध्ये स्वास्थ्य बिमाले ३ प्रतिशतमात्र हिस्सा ओगटेको छ। पाँच वर्षअघि ६ प्रतिशतभन्दा बढी हिस्सा ओगटेको थियो।

केही समयअघि स्वास्थ्य बिमा गर्दै आएको सरकारी स्वामित्वको राष्ट्रि बिमा संस्थानले अहिले यस्तो बिमा गर्न छाडेको छ। 'धेरै नै घाटा हुने भएकाले छाडेका हौं,' संस्थानका मूख्य प्रशासक विनोद अर्यालले भने, 'यसलाई पुनः सुरु गर्ने बारेमा सोचिरहेका छौं।' संस्थानले संगठित रुपमा आएका २८ संस्थाका कर्मचारीको भने स्वास्थ्य बिमा गरिरहेको छ। निजी क्षेत्रका कम्पनीहरुले स्वास्थ्य बिमा योजना राखेका छन् तर गरेका छैनन्।
'बिमा गराएको व्यक्ति तथा परिवारले चिकित्सकलाई आफ्नो प्रभावमा पारेर खर्च भएभन्दा बढीको बिल देखाउँदै बढी रकम दाबी गर्छन्, संस्थानका अर्यालले भने, 'यसो हुँदा बिमा कम्पनीहरूले बेहोर्नुपर्ने आर्थिक दायित्व धानिनसक्नु हुन्छ।'

बिमा कम्पनीहरुले आफ्नो पुरानो तथा ठूलो 'विजिनेस डिल' भएका कम्पनीका कर्मचारीहरुको मात्र स्वास्थ्य बिमा गर्ने गरेका छन्। 'अरु विजनेस लिनका लागि सँगसँगै स्वास्थ्य बिमा गरिदिएका हौं,' एभरेष्ट जनरल इन्स्योरेन्सका महाप्रबन्धक केवलकृष्ण श्रेष्ठले मंगलवार नागरिकसँग भने, 'यो वाइ वान गेट वान फ्रि (एउटा किन्दा अर्को निशुल्क) जस्तै हो।' उनले स्वास्थ्य बिमा कार्यक्रम सर्वसाधारणसम्म लैजाँदा कम्पनी नै टाँट पल्टिने अवस्था आउने भएकाले नगरिएको बताए।
बिमा कम्पनीहरुको नियमन निकाय बिमा समितिका प्रबक्ता शेखरकुमार अर्यालले स्वास्थ्य बिमालाई सर्वसाधारसम्म पुर्‍याउन थुप्रै व्यवहारिक कठिनाइ भएको बताए। 'यो आवश्यक छ,' उनले भने, 'तर व्यवहारिक कठिनाइ छन्।'

'मान्छे इमानदार नभइन्जेल स्वास्थ्य बिमा तल्लो तहसम्म पुर्‍याउन कठिन छ,' श्रेष्ठले भने, 'भएको खर्चभन्दा बढी रकम दाबी गर्न थालेपछि स्वास्थ्य बिमालाई प्राथमिकतामा राख्नै छाडेका छौं।'

नेपालमा स्वास्थ्य बिमा रकम दावी माथि अनुसन्धान गर्ने तेस्रो पक्ष प्रशासक (टिपिए) नभएकाले पनि सर्वसाधारणसम्म पुग्न कठिन भएको बिमा कम्पनीका अधिकारीहरु बताउँछन्। टिपिएले परेको दावीमाथि स्वतन्त्र अनुसन्धान गरी त्यसको रिपोर्ट सम्वन्धित कम्पनीहरुलाई दिन्छ। त्यसपछि मात्र कम्पनीले दावी रकम भुक्तानी दिने काम गर्छ। यस्तो टिपिए भारतमा पनि ३ वटा मात्र छन्।

श्रेष्ठले बढी दाबी गर्नेलाई कारबाही गर्ने संयन्त्र निर्माण भए तल्लो तहसम्म गएर यसलाई सर्वसुलभ गराउन कुनै कठिनाइ नहुने बताए।
'गैरजीवन बिमा कम्पनीका रुपमा स्वीकृति लिएपछि स्वास्थ्यको पनि बिमा गर्नु पर्छ,' एक बिमा कम्पनीका प्रमुख कार्यकारीले मंगलवार नागरिकसँग भने, 'तर व्यवहारिक रुपमा स्वास्थ्य बिमा घाटामा जाने व्यापार भएकाले प्रचारमा नल्याइएको हो।'

सरकारी स्वामित्वको राष्ट्रिय बिमा संस्थान र १५ निजी बिमा कम्पनीले औषधि उपचार तथा दुर्घटना बिमा पोलिसी बेच्दै आएका छन्। यो पोलिसीअन्तर्गत सामान्य स्वास्थ्य जाँच, दीर्घरोग, साधारण तथा विशेष शल्यक्रिया, दुर्घटनालगायत पर्छन्। यस्तो बिमा गर्नेले अस्पतालको कोठा शुल्क, अप्रेसन थिएटर शुल्क, अप्रेसन शुल्क, औषधि तथा इन्जेक्सनलगायत सुविधा पाउँछन्।

स्वास्थ्य बिमा गर्न वार्षिक एक हजारदेखि ६ हजार रुपैयाँसम्म बिमा शुल्क बुझाए पुग्छ। त्यो अवधिमा बिरामी नपरे पनि बिमाबापत बुझाएको पैसा फिर्ता हुँदैन। बिरामी परेपछि भने अस्पतालमा बस्दादेखि पूर्णस्वस्थ नभइन्जेल लाग्ने सबै खर्च सम्बन्धित बिमा कम्पनीबाट बेहोरिन्छ। त्यो पनि न्युनतम बिमा शुल्कबाट।

Source: http://www.nagariknews.com/economy/industries/17001-2010-08-15-04-14-14.html

'Some 10,000 illegal small arms in capital'

KATHMANDU, Aug 15: Nepal Police, for the first time in its history, recently busted a major small arms racket that reportedly imported the weapons from India and retailed them to criminal gangs in the Valley.

The arrest of Sanjaya Gole at Kapan a few days ago allegedly in possession of a 9mm pistol led to the apprehension of Jainuddin Ansari at Jitpurbazar, Bara district on Saturday.

Ansari, a trader in buffalos, would supply small arms to Gole who is based in the capital, police said. Gole reportedly admitted during preliminary interrogations that he had been merchandising pistols for eight years. He is said to have sold at least a dozen pistols to different criminal gangs that he has not named so far.

“Never before had we broken through the surface,” said an official involved in the operation. “We would generally arrest the arms bearers and not investigate further. So the key players would always remain untouched.”

“This is a major achievement,” said Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Rana Bahadur Chand, chief of Metropolitan Police Crime Division (MPCD). “Reaching through to the weapons suppliers is an arduous task.”

The incident comes at a time when the prevalence of small arms has hugely undermined security in the Valley. Investigative officials with substantial experience in anti-arms operations estimate there are over 10,000 illegal small arms in the country´s most populous city. The seizure by three different police teams of 16 small arms in the last six months only indicates the dangerous state of affairs.

´Capital, haven for small arms´

Republica has gotten hold of a secret Nepal Police report which officials said is the most factual and detailed ever prepared on small arms in the Valley.
The report has a range of facts from the main areas where small arms traffickers congregate to the prominent groups that seem to possess them. It also explains the entire process of small arms import, local prices and general merchandising methods.

Kathmandu has the largest number of illegal small arms compared to neighboring Lalitpur and Bhaktapur. The report mentions that ready availability of small arms in the metropolis is directly associated with crime stemming from economic activity, growing population density and a booming entertainment business.

Thamel, Durbarmarg, New Bus Park, Gongabu, Swayambhu and Kalanki top the localities in transactions in small arms. According to the report, Old Bus Park, Koteshwor, Bouddha and Jorpati are other sensitive areas for small arms. In Lalitpur, Mangalbazar, Gwarko, Bagdol, Bhaisepati and Chapagaon see maximum mobility of small arms traders. Lokanthali, Gatthaghar, Surya Binayak and Pandubazar in Bhaktapur have long witnessed the same hazards.

Who keeps small arms?

Facts disclosed by those accused or convicted in small arms cases and uncovered by police themselves show that those possessing small arms are mostly involved in organize crime like robbery, extortion and kidnapping, the report says.

Among others prone to small arms use are underground groups that have political cover but subsist on crime. Many that fled the UCPN (Maoist), political groups that separated from the same party, the Young Communist League (YCL) and CPN (UML)´s Youth Force have also been portrayed in the report as possessing small arms on a large scale.

Business entrepreneurs also keep small arms. Those involved in nighttime entertainment business, contractors, owners of manpower companies, realtors and proprietors of shopping malls have been identified by the report as possessing illegal weapons.

A variety of small arms are available in the capital´s illegal market. Pistols, sixers and katuwa in many calibers--7mm, 9mm, 12mm and 15mm, and six-shot revolvers are mostly to be found. Most are imported from India where the traders easily get them inscribed with any brand name they like.
Import routes

For Kathmandu, Thankot is the key entry point. If the destination is Lalitpur, the unguarded southern belt of the district--especially, Dakshinkali, Luvu, Lele and Chapagaon--is used. To bring small arms to Bhaktapur, they come thorugh Sangabhangyang, Sudal and Nagarkot.

The open, porous border Nepal shares with India has allowed an unchecked inflow of small arms to the southern Tarai and then on to the Valley, the major market.

Investigative officials interviewed by Republica, affirming many points in the report, said there are nine principal routes for bringing small arms from India to Nepal. The routes begin from the Indian towns of Raxul, Louki, Mujjafarpur, Jogbani, Lucknow, Sunouli, Banbasa and Gourifanda, which are close to the Nepal-India border, and cover different distances to reach the Valley.

Officials said small arms are brought into the capital mostly in vehicles ferrying livestock and vegetables. Vehicles that bring grain are also blamed. The report mentions that even ambulances and hearses are found to have carried small arms.

Big bucks

A katuwa easily purchased for Indian rupees 4,000 in India is sold here for anything between Rs 20,000 and 30, 000 (local currency). The report says a sixer costing 10,000 Indians rupees maximum south of the border fetches a comfortable Rs 40,000 when sold in Kathmandu. A pistol could bring in up to Rs 100,000, some 10-20 times the rate in India.

Small arms traders use individual contacts in generally three different steps, officials say. “One person manages to smuggle them across the border, then approaches another who carries them to half-way stations like Hetauda and Chitwan, and finally the third contact takes them to the capital,” said an official.
The report says that the first contacts based in the capital are mostly those with criminal backgrounds. They often deal with clients in public places.

Officials said many traders have even been running their businesses single-handed. But they don´t deal in large quantities.

“We are yet to investigate others connected with the contacts. There could be further layers,” said SSP Chand, referring to the Gole-Ansari racket.

Source: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=22234

Saturday, August 14, 2010

NC's changing face: New outnumber old

KATHMANDU, Aug 14: Perhaps for the first time in Nepali Congress history, new faces outnumber old ones among active members, who elect the general convention representatives.

This is bound to bring change in the party, but it is too early to predict the scale and direction of the change. The NC has brought into its fold 182,033 new active members through a membership drive, while only 129,989 old members renewed their memberships.

There is also a manifold increase in the membership of women and people from marginalized groups-- Janajatis, Madhesis and Dalits.

For instance, the number of active women members rose to 51,513. The consolidated figures for Janajati, Madhesi and Dalit members is not immediately available but party insiders say the numbers are "very encouraging".

Another significant change in the grand old party is the increase in youth active members. This has already changed the composition of general convention representatives. Between 20 to 30 percent of general convention representatives are believed to be under 40.

NC, perhaps rightly, is often dubbed a party belonging to old generation leaders. Only eight of its 114 Constituent Assembly members are under 35. NC´s central working committee (CWC) is even older, with an overwhelming majority of members aged over 50.

These number are not at all reassuring when compared to the fact that 150 out of the total 238 Maoist lawmakers are below 35 years.

NC youth leader Gagan Thapa argues that the increase in youth active membership will assist change in the party and drive it towards a new direction. "Since the youths represent a new voice they will help steer the party accordingly," he added.

Because of such dominant presence of youths in the general convention, it is assumed that many youth leaders will be elected to the central committee.

But the presence of new general convention members --youths, Janajatis, Madhesis and women-- has also made the outcome of the general convention uncertain, at least regarding who will be elected party president. This in itself is a change in the NC, where the next party president was often a foregone conclusion long before the general convention took place. For instance, though different candidates challenged the late Girija Prasad Koirala during the last three elections for party president, the final outcome was never uncertain in anybody´s mind.

The NC´s 12th general convention scheduled for September 17-21 holds great significance for the party not only because this is the first convention after the merger of the NC (Democratic) with the NC back in 2008 and the demise of Girija Koirala but also because the convention will elect more new faces to a more inclusive CWC, the ultimate decision-making body of the party.

NC leaders say new faces in the CWC are very likely as a majority of the 2,880 general convention representatives directly elected at local level conventions, out of the total 3,000-plus membership, are less likely to stick to any panel - led either by Sushil Koirala or Sher Bahadur Deuba.

"The current composition of general convention representatives will affect the outcome of the convention but no one knows for sure how things are going to play out when actual voting take place," argued Thapa, adding, "A candidate vying for the post of president must be able to take in party leaders who can bring youths into his fold."

More than anything else, the 12th General Convention will also be remembered for its attempt at inclusiveness. "This is the first time the Nepali Congress has become inclusive of all population groups right from the local level convention," argued NC General Secretary Bimalendra Nidhi. "This will help further democratize the party."

This inclusiveness will also be reflected at the party´s highest decision making body-- the CWC. According to the party statute as amended by the Mahasamiti meeting in Kathmandu last year, there will be a total of 85 members in the party´s CWC. Of the total 65 elected members, the statute has made provisions for electing 12 members from among women, five each from Dalits, indigenous communities and Madhesis and two from the Muslim community.

There are seven women members, including one invitee member, in the present 71-member CWC. Likewise, the number of Dalit members in the CWC is just one.

"There is greater attraction of youths from marginalized communities towards the Nepali Congress as the new provision on reservations made by the party has instilled confidence among them that they would one day make it to leadership positions," argued Radheshyam Adhikari, chief of 12th General Convention Election Committee.


Age Group Percentage

18-35 - 28.29 %
36-65 - 54.93 %
66-80 - 4.55 %
81-above - 0.27 %
Age not known - 11.96 %

Active members
Renewed - 129,989
New - 182,033
Total - 312,022

NC CWC composition

General Secretary
25 members (elected directly by general convention)
16 members (nominated by CWC)
14 members (one each from 14 zones)
Seven women (six elected and one nominated by president)
Six dalits (five including two women elected and one nominated)
Six Aadibasi/Janajatis (five including two women elected and one nominated)
Six Madhesi (five including two women elected and one nominated)
Two Muslims (one elected and one nominated)
Total: 85 members

(N.B. Elected president will nominate vice-president, general secretary and joint general secretary from among the 25 elected CWC members andpParliamentary party leader will be ex-officio member of CWC)

Source: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=22201

Friday, August 13, 2010

Gyanendra meets Upendra, Sarita along with KV Rajan


KATHMANDU, Aug 12: Former king Gyanendra Shah held a secret meeting with Chairman of Madhesi People’s Rights Forum (MPRF) Upendra Yadav and Chairperson of Nepal Sadbhavana Party-Anandidevi, Sarita Giri at Hotel de l’ Annapurna Thursday.

According to a source, Former Indian Ambassador to Nepal KV Rajan was also present at the gathering which was organized by Ramesh Nath Pandey, who was minister for foreign affairs during the former king’s direct rule.

Escorted by Nepal Army and Armed Police Force personnel, Shah reached the hotel in the afternoon.

Shah, who was seen near the hotel by around 4 pm, stayed for a while inside a boutique run by his niece Sitashma, the source told Republica. Then he entered Hotel de l’ Annapurna.

According to the source, Yadav, accompanied by a few other MPRF leaders, went into the same hotel shortly after Shah reached there. They had their dinner there. The source said both Shah and Yadav’s vehicles were parked on the hotel premises till 10 pm. A large number of security personnel were deployed on the Hotel premises till late night.

Saran to 'get back' to Maoists

KATHMANDU, Aug 13: Shyam Saran, who recently visited Nepal as a special envoy of the Indian government, is getting back to the Maoist leadership after reporting to Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Congress-I President Sonia Gandhi about his talks with top Nepali leaders during the visit.

"Saran said he will get back to us with the response of Sonia Gandhi and Indian Prime Minister Singh regarding our views which we put forth during talks with him," a politburo member of UCPN (Maoist) quoted party Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal as saying during a central committee meeting held at the party head office in Kathmandu Thursday.

According to him, Saran had suggested to the Maoist leaders to join the mainstream politics of the country while the Maoists replied that they were not ready to opt for that without effecting changes in the conventional politics of the country.

"Being such a massive political force, you [Maoists] should join the mainstream politics of the country. Sometimes it seems that you are not [headed] in that direction," Dahal quoted Saran as saying. "But we told him that we are not going to join conventional mainstream politics, but rather the Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML should agree to the new mainstream political system that we have established," Dahal told CC members as replying to the Indian envoy. According to him, Saran finally pledged to communicate to the Maoist leaders about the response of the top Indian leadership including Gandhi and Singh. The Maoist chairman informed his comrades that they held talks with Saran as he was one of those involved while forging several political deals including the 12-point agreement.

During the over hour-long briefing to CC members he mainly focused on the initiatives taken by the party in government formation, inter-party dialogues and talks with the special envoy of the Indian government.

Maoists ready to withdraw PM candidacy if NC does so too

The Maoist leaders said that the party was ready to withdraw its prime ministerial candidacy if the NC also agreed to do so.

“We are always in favor of forming a national consensus government,” Maoist Vice-chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha told reporters after a meeting with UML leaders at Singha Durbar. “We are ready to hold open discussions on the option of withdrawing candidacy.”

UML Chairman Jhalanath Khanal said they urged the Maoists to pull out of the race that has yielded no result even after holding four rounds of voting. "We requested them to stop this series of votings and pave the way for the formation of a national consensus government," Khanal said.

According to him, UML leaders will now try to convince NC leaders over the option as the Maoist leadership is positive towards it. Dahal and NC Vice-president Ram Chandra Poudel are in the race for prime minister.

Dahal led the Maoist team and Khanal led the UML leaders during the bilateral meeting.

Bhattarai met Saran through consent: Dahal

Dahal at the CC meeting tried to douse the controversy surrounding party Vice-chairman Dr. Baburam Bhattarai´s separate meeting with Saran, telling the CC members that Bhattarai had his consent.

"Whatever we have heard in public holds no meaning as whichever among us -- Dahal or Bhattarai -- held meetings with the Indian envoy, did so as per consultations and decisions taken," the politburo member quoted Dahal as saying.

A serious controversy had suddenly flared up after Maoist secretariat member Barsa Man Pun and other leaders criticized Bhattarai for holding a separate meeting with Saran. Bhattarai and leaders loyal to him had strongly reacted against that.

Source: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=22162

Thursday, August 12, 2010

We won't allow bonus distribution: NOC Chair


KATHMANDU, Aug 11: Commerce Secretary and Chairman of Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) Purushottam Ojha has announced that the corporation board will not allow NOC -- reeling under hefty accumulated loss and debt -- to distribute bonus to staffs.

We will not let distribution of bonus now, Ojha said Wednesday, referring to the instruction of the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), which on Monday re-instructed the government not to allow distribution of bonus in public enterprise (PEs) suffering under accumulated loss.

NOC presently has accumulated loss of some Rs 8 billion and loans exceeding Rs 11.5 billion to settle to the government and financial institutions. Based on the government and CIAA´s earlier instruction, NOC board about three weeks ago had decided to halt distribution of bonus in the petroleum monopoly that earned profit after a gap of seven years in 2008/09.

After the two trade unions at the corporation announced protest against the management, NOC board scrapped its decision and agreed to decide on bonus as per existing laws.

“Our statement to take decision on bonus as per the laws does not mean NOC has been granted permission to distribute bonus,” Ojha said.

However, the Supreme Court´s verdict in favor of bonus on a similar case filed by Rastriya Banjiya Bank has set a precedent that staffs are entitled to bonus when the enterprise makes profit in a particular year, even if it is in accumulated loss.

“The instructions of CIAA are binding for us. Hence, as it has asked us not to let NOC workers walk away with bonus, we will act accordingly,” said Ojha.

Talking to media persons, Ojha further said that Ministry of Commerce and Supplies (MoCS) has already directed all PEs placed under it, including NOC, to strictly adhere to CIAA´s instructions.