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Nepal bills to address quake reconstruction, Madhesis

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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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9 Climbers Pulled From Snow After A Sudden Storm On Mount Gurja, Nepal

Mountaineering experts are questioning how the experienced team was so badly hit at their base camp at 3,500 meters.

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Mount Gurja
Tourists take pictures at Sarangkot in Pokhara, with the view of the Mount Annapurna range in the background, some 200 km (124 miles) west of Kathmandu, Nov. 30, 2008. Annapurna, at 8,091 meters high, is the 10th highest mountain in the world.. VOA

A rescue team Sunday began retrieving the bodies of nine climbers killed in a violent storm on Nepal’s Mount Gurja, a freak accident that has left the mountaineering community reeling.

A helicopter dropped four mountain guides at the camp where the South Korean climbing expedition was staying when powerful winds and snow swept through, killing the entire team and scattering their bodies as far as 500 meters (yards) away.

“All nine bodies have been found and the team are in the process of bringing them down,” said Siddartha Gurung, a chopper pilot who is coordinating the retrieval mission.

Mount Gurja
A helicopter dropped four mountain guides at the camp.

A second helicopter along with a team of rescue specialists and villagers were also involved in the mission, which has been hampered by strong winds as well as the camp’s remoteness in the Dhaulagiri mountain range of Nepal’s Annapurna region.

The bodies of the climbers, five South Koreans and four Nepalis, will be flown to Pokhara, a tourist hub that serves as a gateway to the Annapurna region, and then to Kathmandu, said Yogesh Sapkota of Simrik Air, a helicopter company involved in the effort.

‘Like a bomb went off’

The expedition’s camp was destroyed by the powerful storm, which hit the area late Thursday or Friday, flattening all the tents and leaving a tangled mess of tarpaulin and broken polls.

“Base camp looks like a bomb went off,” said Dan Richards of Global Rescue, a U.S.-based emergency assistance group that will be helping with the retrieval effort.

Mount Gurja
Wangchu Sherpa of Trekking Camp Nepal, organised the expedition

The expedition was led by experienced South Korean climber Kim Chang-ho, who has climbed the world’s 14 highest mountains without using supplemental oxygen.

Experts puzzled

Mountaineering experts are questioning how the experienced team was so badly hit at their base camp at 3,500 meters.

Also Read: Nepal Saves Its Tiger Population, Doubles It

“At this point we don’t understand how this happened. You don’t usually get those sorts of extreme winds at that altitude and base camps are normally chosen because they are safe places,” Richards said.

The team had been on 7,193-meter (23,599-foot) Mount Gurja since early October, hoping to scale the rarely climbed mountain via a new route. (VOA)