At this late stage road expansion in the Kathmandu Valley is reported to be facing multiple problems, such as obstructions created by locals, legal hurdles, budget constraints and the monsoon. According to the Kathmandu Valley Development Authority (KVDA), it could not give continuity to road expansion due to budget constraints, as the Ministry of Finance is yet to release Rs. 300 million allocated for KVDA to pay the contractors, while the money yet to be paid to the contractors is put at Rs. 757.6 million. On the other hand, the Kathmandu Valley Road Expansion Project (KVREP) recounts its own problems. It says the road-widening project has been rather slow because of factors such as court orders not to demolish roadside houses, locals’ obstruction, and site clearance problem. For example, along the 12-km Tripureshwor-Nagdhunga section, stretches totaling 9.5 km are facing the site clearance problem.
Then who is responsible for all this mess and the clear and present dangers lying all along most of the roads in the Kathmandu Valley? The blame has to lie somewhere else, perhaps to be shared by the agencies and officials and even government leaders concerned. There has been no attempt whatsoever to determine who is responsible and what action is to be taken against the guilty. This problem, not unknown to those in authority, has remained unaddressed all through the decades from the Panchayat days through the post-1990 multiparty era, down to the present federal republican times. Political systems, political movements, change of guard from one political party to another do not necessarily lead to better performance. The main question is how we work, how transparent we are, and whether we have a good mechanism of exacting accountability for any criminal neglect of duty.
No government in the country has ever directed its attention to this crucial question. However, instantly moved by the recent tragedy caused by the open pits on the roads, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba issued instructions to the agencies and officials concerned to fill the pits and potholes within two weeks. During the recent downpours, loss of life, injuries to people and damage to vehicles, apart from great inconvenience to vehicular and pedestrian traffic, have happened, including a girl who fell into the open sewerage covered with flowing rain water and was carried away by its torrents. But the guilty officials and offices are not required to pay any compensation at all to the victims; nor have they faced any action. After the PM’s directives, some filling work can however be seen on the roads, but the departments and offices concerned have made it clear that the main work of road expansion and repairs and black-topping can be done only when the monsoon is over, which means late September. Passing the buck has been a favourite pastime of our government officials, which must stop. Exacting accountability — which should mean the sack, demotion, transfer, paying compensation, or even serving a jail term depending on the nature and immensity of the criminal neglect of duty – is the only magic wand that can make those in positions responsible.
Drink pure water
With the monsoon in full swing cases of water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea, dysentery, jaundice and typhoid, four common water borne diseases, have increased in Kathmandu Valley. According to the Teku-based Shukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital cases of water borne diseases have risen alarmingly. The hospital said on an average over two dozen patients visited the hospital on a daily basis mostly suffering from the water borne diseases. The patients visited the hospital when their condition became serious and such people were mostly from humble family background.
Doctors and researchers have found that the people suffer from water borne diseases after they consume contaminated water which becomes more acute during the rainy season. Officials said presence of deadly microbes E coli and coliform were found in the water used in households in the Valley. People who drink untreated or contaminated water suffer the most from water borne diseases. The doctors have advised to avoid drinking contaminated water. Boiling water for about ten minutes or filtering it with addition of water purifiers can be the best way to be free from water borne diseases, which may be fatal if medicine is not taken on time. Prevention is better than cure.
The Himalayan Times, July 27, 2017