Ujwal Thapa’s Vision for Kathmandu-5: The Future is Bright !

काठमाडौँ-५ को उज्ज्वल भविष्यको लागि उज्वल थापा
Ujwal Thapa’s Vision for Kathmandu-5: The Future is Bright!

नेपालीमा पढ्नुहोला

How do we make Kathmandu the most beautiful, livable city in the world again? I’ve dwelled and deliberated on this question for several years now. In early 2012, I even blogged about this at whynepal.com. I love this city, and I know you do too. When I look at our past ,and the current challenges and opportunities, I see a glass that is that is way more than half full: I see a city with potential for unimagined growth and progress.  I see endless opportunities at each galli, each tole and each “chaau-baato”.  So why have we let it degrade into a polluted, chaotic, and mismanaged mess? Kathmandu is bleeding, and is calling out for our help!

In my 2012 blog, I spoke about the need to strengthen local governance and to demand our local elected and government officials to work in partnership with their neighborhoods – local youth, businesses, schools, and other civil society leaders – to do a better job of governing the city. Now that I am standing up as a candidate from Kathmandu-5 (symbol: dog)  for the upcoming CA elections, I have drawn up my vision for the constituency.

Responsible citizens + accountable leadership =  peaceful, prosperous Kathmandu-5

These are some of the actions I will pursue as the elected parliamentarian of Kathmandu-5. These are also ideas that can be easily scaled-up and replicated across the Valley (and then across the nation).

  1.  स्थानिय शासन (Accountable Local Governance)
  2. आफ्नो सडक, आफै बनाउ ! (Adopt your Road!)
  3. टाईममा नत्र सित्तैमा (Efficient, Transparent, Accountable Services from Local Government Offices)
  4. “हरियो टोल, बलियो टोल” (Create Green Open Spaces )
  5. गाडी भन्दा साईकल चाडो हुने टोल  (Walk, cycle and disability friendly Lanes)
  6. उज्यालो टोल, झकास टोल (Lets light up our streets!)
  7. फोहर हराएको टोल, अचम्मको टोल (Garbage-managed neighborhood)
  8. खुल्ला टोल, ढुक्क टोल” ( Declare Kathmandu-5 as Bandh-free Zone )
  9. भ्रष्टाचारीलाई नाक खुम्चाउने टोल ( Encourage and Support Local Anti-Corruption Campaigns and Efforts)
  10. चेलीलाई मर्का, पुलिस कारवाही पक्का (Improve Protection and Assistance in Cases of Gender-Based Violence and Human Trafficking)
  11.  अग्रजको बुद्धि युवालाई शक्ति (Create and Strengthen local Platforms that Provide Mentoring & Career Advice to Youth and Students):

1 स्थानिय शासन (Accountable Local Governance)

Lack of local elections and appointment of local officials by the central government for over a decade now has severely weakened accountability and governance across much of Nepal’s district development committees, municipalities, and village development committees.  There are serious concerns over mismanagement of local development and governance-related affairs, lack of transparency, and rife corruption. Lack of elections has resulted in an even stronger reliance on patronage networks as “the way things are done” and political capture by local party representatives and lack of oversight after the dissolution of the All Party mechanisms.

How ?

I will reach out to and work with other parliamentarians to strengthen our collective voice in demanding local election be held within six months as one of the first priorities of the new parliament. Inside the parliament, relentlessly act as a bridge and resolve conflict between political parties to force early constitution draft.

2 आफ्नो सडक, आफै बनाउ ! (Adopt your Road!)
How ? I will encourage “adopt a road” concept for each tole. This means, communities take ownership of a section of the road in front of them. They support it themselves. Local roads division are more likely to come in as a partner, who help either co-fund and/or carry out the project, if they see a willing, responsible  group of citizens.

3 टाईममा नत्र सित्तैमा (Efficient, Transparent, and Accountable Services from all Local Government Offices)

It will be my priority to work with public institutions to emphasize and promote their transparency and accountability, to improve delivery of service to local citizens. The public institutions include, but are not limited to the following in Kathmandu-5.

a.    Nepal Khanepani Limited, Pani Pokhari

b.   Police Station and Ward Offices  in Ward 2, 3, 4, 5 and VDC – Maharajgunj, Chakrapath, Narayansthan, Dhumbarahi, Tangal, Baluwatar

c.    Electricity Corporation, Basundhara, Budhanilkantha

d.   Nepal Telecom, Hattigauda, Naxal

e.    Local Roads Division, Bishal Nagar

f.    Village Development Committee:  Khadga Saraswati, Khadga Bhadrakali, Dhapasi, Bishnu Budhanilkantha, Tokha and ward 2,3,4,5. They are responsible to offer: Citizenship and Marriage certificates, property transfer documents, legal documents, undertake community and local development projects, administer local tax, and offer other official documents.

How ?
I will actively ask for willing partners in the private, civil, and development sector to enhance capacity of the local government officials and introduce new mechanisms to promote transparency and accountability  – such as through the use of mobile technology, website, social media, and monthly  public hearings.

With transparency and accountability, effectiveness of those institutions will increase and opportunities for corruption and waste will go down. And if citizens are more aware of the services available from the public institutions and encouraged to demand quality and accessible services, public institutions will be forced to improve their service delivery.  A virtuous cycle will be set in motion where an aware and empowered citizenry get quality and efficient service from an attentive, effective and energized bureaucracy.

4. “हरियो टोल, बलियो टोल” (Create Green Open Spaces )
Kathmandu has a lot of open spaces that are now misused or un-used. I will work with local toles, ward office, and interested citizens to find and create as many open green spaces as possible. Trees and greenery helps reduce pollution and dust and makes our city a much more beautiful, livable space. These spaces will allow students, children, and the elderly—everyone and anyone—to relax, play and enjoy our community.

How ?

Step 1: Get Ward office to find the open spaces in their jurisdiction,

Step 2: Prepare a community plan for its development and maintenance, which may include badminton court, table tennis boards, walking/jogging track, relaxing benches, etc.
Step 3: Community works with local business on self-sustaining it.

To make this a reality, I will pressure KMC to offer dedicated funding to local government from the property tax they collect from the homeowner and renters in the district.

On a bigger level: I will lead or support a movement to declare and turn the former royal palace ground into a green park for the city of Kathmandu.  Why can’t we work towards building our own version of Central Park (New York in USA) in the middle of Kathmandu? Yes we can.

5 गाडी भन्दा साईकल चाडो हुने टोल  (Walk, cycle and disability friendly Lanes)

Kathmandu is a small city where cycling is a viable option and there is increasing interest in cycling, both as a means of transport and as recreational activity, today.  I will work to give dedicated cycle lanes on all major roadways in Kathmandu-5. I will work with every school and large offices in my district to offer secured bicycle parking area. This program will encourage cycling/biking as an alternative to driving cars and – promote this healthy, green alternative transport mode.

6 उज्यालो टोल, झकास टोल (Lets light up our streets!)

Kathmandu gets ample sunshine. This is a city whose homes can turn into energy producers. Today, Bagmati bridge has solar-powered street lights that keep the roads safe and secure  for both vehicles and pedestrians; an initiative led by Laxmi Bank in Kathmandu. I will work with local experts like Anil Chitrakar and other private  businesses to promote and encourage people and businesses to adopt alternate power solutions for their ‘toles’, while also working with institutions like Alternative Energy Promotion Center and the Ministry of Energy to introduce favorable policies.

7. फोहर हराएको टोल, अचम्मको टोल (Garbage-managed neighborhood)

Majority of the garbage we have at homes are bio-degradable (turns into manure or safe by-product). I will work with the private sector to find creative win- win solutions for inhabitants and local businesses by encouraging garbage related social business ventures that in fact pay citizens for their trash.

8. खुल्ला टोल, ढुक्क टोल” ( Declare Kathmandu-5 as Bandh-free Zone )

Bandhs (forced strikes) are evil. And it is the poorest of the poor who suffer the most. I was among those who first initiated anti-bandh campaigns in Kathmandu. Bandhs are senseless and frankly, unacceptable. I will work with the police and local youth clubs and volunteer youth to declare and enforce all of Kathmandu-5 as a no-Bandh zone. I will also preëmpt strikes by working with groups that normally call for bandhs to help them adopt other non-violent measures that maybe equally effective. I will encourage widespread public shaming of anyone or any group who encourages and enforces bandhs.

9. भ्रष्टाचारीलाई नाक खुम्चाउने टोल ( Encourage and Support Local Anti-Corruption Campaigns and Efforts)

Zero tolerance to corruption is a commitment I will practice and bring forward every day. As an elected official, I will personally practice and instill a culture of zero tolerance to corruption.

How ?

Transparency will happen if our local government is aided by technology that helps make information accessible through mobile phones applications and by educating/involving locals to use the powerful “Right to information”  tools properly. I will constantly encourage the media and citizens to promote transparency and fight corruption– to cover corruption stories, to publicly shame corrupt people and organizations, and to refuse to become a part of corruption.  Senior media authorities like Rabindra Mishra have been an incredibly powerful Anti-corruption crusader. People like him need to be encouraged to continue their campaigns—they need our collective support. In the past I have been active in efforts like “Bhrastachari lai Kira parosh”.

10. चेलीलाई मर्का, पुलिस कारवाही पक्का (Improve Protection and Assistance in Cases of Gender-Based Violence and Human Trafficking)

Gender equality and justice is a topic that I’m deeply passionate about ( I  was among those who initiated and supported the Occupy Baluwatar protests that went for 107 straight days  to make sure justice for Sita Rai and other violence affected women). I want to make sure that each police station in Kathmandu-5 has a dedicated desk to respond to and speed up cases of Violence against Women and Human Trafficking and a responsive hotline number. Similarly, I will ask for greater regularity in police patrolling so that all citizens, men and women alike, feel more secure to go about their daily businesses.

11. अग्रजको बुद्धि युवालाई शक्ति (Create and Strengthen local Platforms that Provide Mentoring & Career Advice to Youth and Students):

Engaging youth is critical to developing the country’s human capital. As someone who established and managed the 13,000+ network of ‘Entrepreneurs for Nepal’ for over five years, which was created to offer Nepali youth with the knowledge, skills, and networks necessary to start and expand small businesses, I will replicate a localized, grass-root version of local youth mentoring Clubs in Kathmandu-5 uniting local youths seeking directions with local elders who have achieved in life. Working with schools/colleges and/or youth clubs like Rotary and Lion’s group, I will help support the creation or expansion of platforms that offer career advice to students and entrepreneurship know-how to young entrepreneur aspirants.

Conclusion

Kathmandu holds a lot of promise, but the present and future is in our hands.  Let’s govern locally, lets elect visionaries in our Kathmandu-5. Let’s govern our tole’s ourselves. Lets bet on us together. After all it is our tole and together, we can.

Responsible citizens and Accountable leadership = Peaceful, prosperous Kathmandu !

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