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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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India, Nepal Review New Developments in Ties

There were also perceptions that Oli was leaning more towards China than India

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Sushma Swaraj, External affairs minister of India. Wikimedia

Recent developments in India-Nepal ties across various sectors came up for discussion during a meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Nepalese Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali on Thursday.

“The two ministers reviewed recent developments in bilateral ties across diverse sectors, including progress achieved on the three transformative initiatives launched in 2018 in the areas of agriculture, railways and inland waterways as well as pace of implementation of ongoing bilateral development and connectivity projects,”the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

“They expressed satisfaction at the significant progress made in different sectors of cooperation as a result of intensified bilateral exchanges at all levels in recent months,” it said.

According to the statement, the two leaders reiterated their commitment to maintain the new momentum and to further strengthen the traditionally close and friendly ties between the two countries.

India Pak relations
India, Nepal review new developments in ties.

India reset its ties with Nepal last year through a visit by Prime Minister Modi, his first after K.P. Sharma Oli became the Prime Minister.

During the visit, both sides agreed to boost trade and economic links, connectivity via air, land and water, people-to-people ties, with Modi declaring that India will work like a sherpa in the Himalayan nation’s development endeavours.

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This happened after there was a chill in India-Nepal ties during Oli’s earlier stint between October 2015 and August 2016 when a border blockade blamed on New Delhi crippled Nepal’s economy.

There were also perceptions that Oli was leaning more towards China than India. (IANS)