The parliamentary Development Committee has endorsed a bill related with the local bodies. There had been a protracted delay in coming up with the endorsement as a result of which the local level governments are staying mostly idle and not functioning as they should even though more than two months have passed since the successful holding of the local level polls in two phases. The bill clearly stipulates the powers that would be granted to the local levels as provisioned by the constitution and also the authority to register land. The local levels still are not provided with the required fiscal rights, and it would help if they were granted more powers which for the most part lie with the centre at present. The local levels have been authorized to call tenders for selling sand and clinkers that are under its jurisdiction, but the revenue they earn would be shared among the local levels, provinces and the centre. Mentioned in the bill are the powers and rights of the local levels. The local levels numbering 553 are required to follow the law. There are certain provisions in the bill that states that any other law contradicting with the provision provided in the bill would be declared void and the provision in the bill would prevail. We should take the scrapping of separate federations of the proposed District Coordination Committees, Rural Municipalities and Urban Municipalities positively as they are not envisioned in the constitution and too many institutions will simply obstruct the functioning of local level governments. The bill will be presented in the next meeting of parliament for approval.
Among the various powers that are being provided at the local levels are judicial powers for judicial committees at the local levels. The deputy chiefs at the local levels would be permitted to settle minor offenses which at present are seen to be a burden on the courts which have a huge backlog of cases. As they are the people’s representatives they would be allowed to send those carrying out such offenses to jail. Preferably these cases should be resolved by the reconciliation committees that would be set up at the local levels. The bill also proposes to approve designs of the buildings that were built in the past without seeking approval. But they should not violate the building codes. These days there are many houses built without the official approval. Now that such approvals can be granted at the local levels it would save a lot of time of people from hassles they are confronted with while building the houses.
Meanwhile, if a ward chair dies a by election would be held if at least one year of his or her term remains. As an interim arrangement the ward members are authorized to select their ward chiefs in this case. The temporary staff at the local levels would be given a permanent status if they take part in the internal competition conducted by the Public Service Commission and pass the exams. As the bill has been approved unanimously by the panel except for the contentious rights to form associations there is every likelihood that this very important and long awaited bill will be passed by Parliament within a week to come. This bill is an important legal provision based on which the local level governments will work.
Problem of suicide
Mental health problem is not taken very seriously due to lack of awareness, resources and competent health institutions dealing with such cases. According to figures provided by the police, the figure of suicide rate caused mainly by depression and other mental illnesses has been increasing every year. Police said that 5,124 people committed suicide in the fiscal 2016/17, 4,332 in the year 2014/15 and 4,673 in the year 2015/16 across the country. This figure is very alarming. The World Suicide Prevention Day was marked yesterday with the slogan “Take a minute, change a life”.
Family Health Division of the Department of Health Services published a report in which it said that suicide was the leading cause of death among women aged between 15 and 49. Prolonged health problem, marital failure, family and financial problem, post-partum depression, hormonal changes after child delivery and physical abuse by husbands were cited as the major reasons behind most women committing suicide. In order to control the high rate of suicide the government should introduce a health plan in all health centres where psychiatrists can counsel the people suffering from depression or other mental illnesses.
The Himalayan Times, September 12, 2017
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