Why does Lalitpur leadership continue discrimination against the wards outside the ring road?

Lalitpur Mayor Chiri Babu Maharjan
Lalitpur Mayor Chiri Babu Maharjan

There are 29 wards in the Lalitpur metropolitan city. Ideally, all these wards should have received equal priority from the city leadership. However, stakeholders in seven wards have complained the city government has been practising discrimination against them.

Biased budget allocation

Wards 18, 21, 25, 26, 27, 28 and 29 of the Lalitpur metropolitan city are located outside the Kathmandu-Lalitpur ring road. The city government has failed to address local developmental demands there. The poor road condition of places such as Ekantakuna, Nakkhu Dobato, and Bhaisipati shows the real condition of the area.

Every year, the majority of the budget in Lalitpur metropolitan city is allocated for the wards inside the ring road. For example, a plan to instal smart street lights, which is limited to the ring road and the areas inside it, has a budget of Rs 35 million. 

Similarly, the budget for sewage and sanitation is also only allocated for the place inside the ring road and around the core city of Patan. The city government has started to construct a 2.8-km sewage system from Lagankhel to Patan Durbar Square and Shankhamul.

As per the budget plan, the next focus would be settling the water overflow problem in Manga Hiti, Mahapal, and Patan Durbar Square areas during the monsoon. 

Lalitpur metropolitan city has 29 wards, including seven outside the ring road.
Lalitpur metropolitan city has 29 wards, including seven outside the ring road.

There are plans to allocate money for covering telephone, electricity and internet wires underground inside the ring road. But, the recent budget plan does not mention anything about the beautification of areas outside the ring road.

Meanwhile, locals say the city government has not done anything substantial to preserve the ancient indigenous settlements of Bungamati, Khokana and Harisddhi.

There is a possibility of the shift of the business hubs from Kathmandu to Lalitpur, but the city government does not have any plan or policy to make it happen. Jhamsikhel, Mangalbazar and Jawalakhel of Lalitpur are developing in a way similar to Thamel, Ason and New Road of Kathmandu. They have a higher chance of becoming a business hub. Perhaps that is why the city government is focused more on these areas. Yet, the leadership appears slow in expediting its plans.

Mayor Chiri Babu Maharjan, after being elected in 2017, had proposed a plan to make a cold store in the vegetable markets of Jawalakhel and Lagankhel, to establish a commercial building in Lagankhel, and to build a slaughterhouse in Sundharighat. But, none of these plans has been implemented yet.

Similarly, he also unveiled a plan to construct a new ring road connecting Pulchok, Mangalbazar, Hattiban, Harisiddhi, Thaiba, Santaneyshwor, Nagdaha, Bajrabarahi, Thecho, Sunakothi, Bungamati, Kokhana and Pulchok. But, it has not yet materialised.

Lalitpur metropolitan city, being a hub for arts and crafts, has the possibility to create an economic system around it. But, the culturally rich sites like Bungamati too are being neglected, say the locals. 

Woes of wards outside the ring road

File: Lalitpur city police manage the city's waste
File: Lalitpur city police manage the city’s waste

According to Sagar Tuladhar, the ward chair of Lalitpur metropolitan city 22, the budget allocated for physical infrastructure will just cover the areas inside the ring road.  

“We feel like we have been deprived of many other basic rights,” he says. 

He adds that there are a lot of things to do in the education and health sectors in his ward, but the city government is only focused on other areas. 

Likewise, Ganesh Kumar Maharjan, the chair of ward 29, says the city leadership has failed to meet its promise.  

“Our ward has always been neglected, and it is not just now. We have been neglected even before Lalitpur became the metropolitan city,” says Maharjan.

According to him, the increment of Rs 10 million in the budget has not made any notable changes. The development of physical infrastructure should take place even outside the ring road, but that is not taking place. 

In Lalitpur-29, there is not even a government health post. The blacktopped road is not beyond one km. The city government also has not done anything for the promotion of the Harisiddhi temple. “We have knocked on the door of the metropolitan office several times, but we have always been unheeded.” 

However, the spokesperson of the city government, Raju Maharjan, says that the local body has not done any kind of discrimination among the wards. He claims that the metropolitan office has given special priority to the wards outside the ring road for physical infrastructure development. 

“The developmental plans include agricultural growth and soil erosion control. As they are not suitable for the wards inside the ring road, we dedicate such programmes to the outer wards,” he says.

It is true that some projects of physical infrastructure have been delayed, but the cause behind this is the dispute among the locals, Maharjan claims.

The health post will be established in ward 29 within this year, he says, adding the city government also plans to distribute water from the Melamchi water supply project outside the ring road also.

This story was translated from the original Nepali version and edited for clarity and length.

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Chimariya is an Onlinekhabar journalist primarily covering local governments.

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