KATHMANDU, March 16: A week after finalizing the number of wards in the new local structure, the government tabled a bill in parliament on Tuesday to determine the number of wards under the new local units.
Lawmakers have objected to the government's decision of introducing the law to determine the number of wards after doing so already. Publishing a report of the Local Level Restructuring Commission (LLRC) in Nepal Gazette last week, the government fixed 6,680 wards under 744 local units under the new local setup.
Speaking at the preliminary deliberations on the Bill Related to Determination of Number of Wards in Rural Municipalities and Municipalities, the lawmakers said that they were surprised to see the bill after the government already finalized the number of wards.
“This bill should have been endorsed by parliament before the government published the numbers and boundaries of local units in Nepal Gazette,” said CPN-UML lawmaker Rewati Raman Bhandari, taking part in the deliberations in the House on Wednesday.
Prem Suwal of Nepal Workers and Peasants Party (NWPP) termed the act of tabling the bill after the finalization of wards as a 'reverse' work.
The bill has proposed five bases for delineating wards and their centers under the local units. The bases include population, geography, accessibility, physical infrastructure and other bases identified by the government. However, the LLRC had finalized the number of wards without receiving these bases. On the other hand, the government should take such decision at least a year before the holding of the local election, according to the law.
Speaking at the House meeting, some lawmakers also expressed objection to a provision in the bill which states that the government can revise the number of wards and their boundaries without taking the consent of the respective local units.
Nepali Congress (NC) lawmakers Mahesh Acharya and Ramhari Khatiwada demanded that local units be authorized to revise the boundaries and numbers of wards within their territories. “The center imposing such decisions on the local units is against the idea of federalism,” said Acharya, “It will hurt the spirit of federalism and decisive authority of the local level.”
Bhandari of UML also expressed objection to the provision stating that giving the right to revise the boundary and number of wards only to Singha Durbar is against the spirit of federalism.
Shyam Kumar Shrestha of CPN (Maoist Center) also opposed the provision in the bill for provisioning central government's consent to revise center and boundary of wards within the local units. “The local level units have been given a number of rights but asking them to depend on the central government to revise the boundary of a ward is not suitable,” said Shrestha.
The bill also states that the central government can change the center of a ward after a two-thirds majority of the village assembly endorses the decision. However, the center of a ward can be changed through simple majority of village assembly for the first time after the commencement of the law. Other lawmakers speaking at the meeting also expressed objection to a provision for giving rights only to central government even to make minor revision of wards at the local level.