The government of Nepal is elongating the list of municipalities in regular interval of time.Last year 4 new municipalities were added in the list of 58 existingÂ municipalities; however it failed to come out of paper into action. On 8 May, 2014 the government declared 72 municipalities and is preparing to add 61Â more municipalities to the list in near future. But are the declared municipalities worth being declared municipalities? The locals and theÂ officialsÂ have a different say. I would like to present my opinion on declaration of Kusma Municipality based on my visit, observation andÂ interaction with the locals and municipal officers.
Thereâ€™s nothing we canâ€™t find in Kusma Bazar that is available in a big metropolitan like Kathmandu but still is it municipality? Declared on 8 May, 2014 by the ambitious government who seems to have vowed to declare entire Nepalese VDCs into municipality.Â Â Is area coverage, population and revenue generation the only criteria for declaration of municipality?
Kusma Municipality was formed merging eight VDC of Parbat district, namely Pang, Khurkot, Durlung, Shivalaya, Chuwa, Katuwa Chaupari, Pipaltari and Pakuwa. It is among the 20 newly declared municipalities of Western Development Region. Kusma Bazaar already being headquarter of Parbat district enjoys the development to certain extent. However it is not only Kusma Bazaar that has been declared the municipality.
Interestingly Kusma Bazaar itself does not have means of local transportation. This might be because of its small area coverage that people prefer to visit bazaar on foot or on their private vehicle. But it is a serious consideration to make that the other parts of municipalities (previously VDCs) have been touched with road tracks or gravelled roads but road network is limited into walk ways in many parts of the municipality. The most striking example is the Kusma Gyadi Suspension bridge.
The bridge is the highest suspension bridge in the country and the only short cut to reach to Gyadi from Kusma; both part of same municipality. It is a tragedy that visionary officials who declared Kusma a municipality did not see that there is no short motorway that would connect even two areas of same municipality. People need to reach almost to the end of municipality to get the motorways if they wish to get Gyadi from Kusma by vehicle. The only commendable road network is Pokhara-Baglung highway a section of which lies in the municipality. People depend upon local buses, micro vans or private vehicle to travel Pokhara (the nearest sub metropolitan) or to Baglung.
Drainage network is at rudimentary stage, communication is good enough in Bazaar area but not so fascinating in the other parts of municipality. Good number of schools and very limited number of high schools. Education seems to have flourished in this area but there are no alternatives to Pokhara or major cities of country for higher education. People enjoy uninterrupted electricity supplied by Modi Khola Hydropower, except during technical problems.
Nevertheless the situation is not uniform throughout the municipality. People at Kusma Bazaar; the heart of the municipality and Parbat district enjoy all the facilities while the VDCs that were merged still look for some more opportunities and development.
Itâ€™s not that the government doesnâ€™t have base to declare municipalities, Local Self Governance Act 1999 has its fixed set of criteria to declare municipality but Kusma seems to have seen and considered Kusma bazaar only, and considered merely population, area and revenue. Upon asking if any plans have been prepared for municipality in specific, the officials from municipality would suggest continuation of the same plan prepared by VDC for this fiscal year. Meanwhile no planning for systematic urban development has been made. Even the smallest business would do proper planning before actually inaugurating the business, in contrast to this even after two months of declaration of municipality, the municipal office has not been completely set. It is quiet easy toÂ Â know about the preparation made by government for declaration of municipality.
Clearly, Kusma Bazaar looks like an urban centre but not all the merged VDC of existing municipality. Neither there are any concrete plans for its development, nor do people have any enthusiasm and anticipation of brighter future.
With very minimum urban facilities abundant in the overall municipality and NOT JUST KUSMA BAZAAR, Is Kusma really a municipality?
The point here I want to mention is not just the infrastructure but the vision of the government. We resident of urban areas, moreover youth would not like not have added urban areas unless they meet the criterion. we discuss a lot on sustainability but declaring municipalities without proper planning especially on landuse would certainly result in unmanaged urbanization, which we never ever want. hence before declaring municipalities it would be relevant to prepare the long term urban planning before hand, and not just declare municipalities on the basis of population and revenue only.