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Nepal bills to address quake reconstruction, Madhesis

Kathmandu: The Nepal government tabled two bills in the parliament amidst the instability in the country borne by the devastating earthquake and protesting Madhesis. The “Nepal Reconstruction Authority” bill seeks to rebuild the earthquake-hit country while another seeks to address the concerns of the Madhesis who are protesting for a constitutional amendment.

The reconstruction bill was tabled eight months after the earthquake. The delay was a result of finding a CEO for the authority that was acceptable to the two largest parties in the parliament. The erstwhile Nepali Congress government had introduced an ordinance and appointed Govinda Pokhrel as CEO, but later the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxists-Leninists), the second largest party in parliament, did not support the conversion of the ordinance into a bill.

Over $4 billion dollars was committed by International donors to reconstruct earthquake struck Nepal. However, not a penny has been spent due to the failure to construct a competent authority. Under overwhelming pressure from National and International quarters, the ruling dispensation was compelled to negotiate with other political parties to formulate an acceptable bill.

Another bill tabled in the parliament sought to resolve the simmering agitation of the Madhesis for proportional representation under the new constitution. The bill aims to amend the Constitution to ensure inclusive proportional representation of ethnic minorities in various state entities apart from the Nepal Army and redrawing the electoral constituencies based on population.

The southern plains comprise over 50 percent of the country’s population and if this bill is passed, the plains will have a majority representation in parliament after the next general elections.

However, the Madhesi leaders have opposed the move saying that were not consulted before the tabling of the bill. The agitating Madhesi parties have refused to accept the constitution amendment bill, claiming that it failed to address their concerns.

The government feels that the constitution amendment bill will address some grievances of the agitating Madhesi leading to an end to the ongoing demonstrations at Nepal-India border entry points.

Due to the ongoing agitation, thousands of Nepal-bound cargo vehicles have not been able to enter Nepal from India since the last four months. As a result, Nepal is facing a serious shortage of essential supplies like food, medicines, fuel and other items. (IANS)

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