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‘Autism is not a disease but a problem’

Published Date : December 20, 2023

            Chitwan, Dec 20: The Bagmati Province alone has a total of 1,253 people suffering from autism. Among them, 495 are in Kathmandu, 113 in Chitwan, 83 in Lalitpur, 78 in Bhaktapur and 77 in Makawanpur.

            Likewise, 75 people are suffering from autism in Kavre, 70 in Dhading, 65 each in Nuwakot and Sindhuli 54 in Sindhupalchowk, 33 in Dolakha and 17 in Rasuwa.

            As per the information shared at a workshop on autism organized by the Bagmati Province Health Ministry, currently 4,886 people now are suffering from autism in Nepal.

            According to the Health Ministry’s expert doctor Shakar Khanal, it is estimated that around 300,000 people, including one in 100 people, have this problem based on the data of the World Health Organization. He said that four men equal to one woman have this problem.

            According to him, 328 people in the mountains, 2,229 in the hills and 2,329 in the Terai have this problem according to the geographical condition.

            It was informed that the problem of autism is increasing in urban areas rather than in rural areas.

            As per the data provided, 1,728 people are living with the problem in villages and 3,158 people in the urban areas.

            According to Surendra Bajracharya of the Autism Care Nepal Society, autism is not a disease but a problem. “Though autism is detected at the age of six months in different countries, it is found only after 18 months in Nepal”, he said. Sharing that around 0.8 percent population with disabilities are also having autism in Nepal, he said autism is a genetic condition and caused by genetics, environment and infection.

            So far there is no treatment of the problem, he said, adding it can be improved with various types of therapy and rehabilitation measures.

            On the occasion, Bagmati Province Health Secretary Deepak Tiwari said that the province government has made efforts for the first time to solve the problems seen in the issue of autism.

            He said such programmes would facilitate the government’s future works and collection of actual data.

            Representatives from the health institutions within the province and various organisations working in the field of autism participated in the programme.

Fish-keeping growing in the vicinity of forest

            Triveni (Nawalparasi), Dec 20: Local residents of buffer zone in Nawalpur (Bardaghat-Susta East) have long been facing trouble with the rise in the incidents of wildlife rampage.

            Wildlife’s frequent intrusion to the paddy farms caused loss and damage to the farmers in buffer zone. In a bid to avoid wildlife menace in Chitwan National Park’s buffer zone, some local farmers switched over their profession from paddy-farming to fish-keeping.

            Devraj Subba, a farmer of Kawaswoti municiplaity-7, said they have shifted their profession to fish-keeping to avoid wildlife intrusion and earn up more income. He further said almost every household has possessed fish ponds in the area along the forest border.

            He said that most of the people living along the border area of the forest have fish ponds. “Around 70 families here have ponds. With the rise in wildlife rampage, plantation of other crops in the area adjacent to the forest cannot be saved,” he said, adding fish-keeping has turned to be an effective option to the paddy-farming as its income is also good.

            Yam Bahadur Nepali, who had been cultivating paddy earlier, has also constructed fish pond later. He said the trend of constructing fish ponds has increased as a livelihood option.

            Lately number of fish farmers is increasing in Devchuli, Kawaswoti and Madhyabindu municipalities of the district. The community forests here have also been supporting the construction of fish ponds in the bordering areas of the forest.

            Chairperson of the forest, Khil Bahadur Gurung said that the Model Buffer Zone Community Forest Users’ Group has been providing support to those who want to keep fish. There are a total of 140 fish ponds in the areas which fall under the Model Buffer Zone Community Forest and Krishnasar Buffer Zone Community Forest.

            Chair Gurung further commented that fish-keeping has also helped mitigate human-wildlife conflict in the area. Fish-keeping profession nearby forest area is expanding of late, he shared.

            He said it has also resolved the problem of wildlife ruining crops on the one hand and on the other fish farming business has generated a decent income.

             Kawasoti Municipality has been providing grants by declaring the wards as pocket areas as the residents of the buffer zones have been attracted to fish farming. Chief of Agriculture Development Section of Kawasoti Municipality, Shiva Narayan Kumal, said that ward no. 7 and 13 of Kawasoti municipality are being developed as fish pocket areas. “We have started providing necessary subsidies from the municipality as the fish farming area is increasing in the vicinity of the forest and the farmers are also earning good income,” he said.

Two Indians arrested with four quintals of marijuana

            Chitwan, Dec 20: The District Police Office, Chitwan has arrested two Indian nationals with 396-kg marijuana.

            The arrestees have been identified as Anil Giri, 45, of Baijai Thana Sambal district of Uttar Pradesh, India and Rajpal Singh, 37, of Kailadevi Thana Apawati Kutawapur village.

            The Nepal Police made them public on Tuesday evening. Spokesperson of the District Police Office, DSP Bijaya Raj Pandit shared that the Indian nationals were arrested with marijuana from Bharatpur metropolitan city-1, Anptari.

            The police confiscated the banned substance while being smuggled to Narayangadh from Muglin in a truck with Indian number plate (JH 02 W 9631). The police recovered the 28 packets of marijuana from the cabin of the truck.

            A police team headed by SP Rameshwor Karki caught them. According to the police sources, an investigation into the case is underway.

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Sri Lankan Foreign Affairs Minister arriving Kathmandu today

            Kathmandu, Dec 20: Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka M. U. M. Ali Sabry is scheduled to make an official visit to Nepal today.

            According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal, he will visit Nepal from 20 to 23 December 2023.

            The purpose of his visit is to participate in the first meeting of Nepal-Sri Lanka Joint Commission (JC) set to be held in Kathmandu on 21-22 December 2023.

            At the meeting, Minister for Foreign Affairs Narayan Prakash Saud will lead the Nepali delegation consisting of the officials of various ministries of the Government of Nepal. The two foreign ministers will also hold a separate meeting.

            During the visit, the Sri Lankan Minister is also scheduled to pay courtesy calls on President Ramchandra Paudel and Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed.

            The Foreign Minister will leave Kathmandu for Colombo on 23 December 2023.

Three people die in bus-truck collision; 27 injured

            Bara, Dec 20: Three people died and other 27 sustained injuries in a truck-bus collision in Bara.

            The accident took place when a passenger-ferrying bus (Ba 3-001 Kha 2587) en route to Kathmandu from Kakadbhitta and a truck (Na 7 Kha 7300) from opposite direction collided nearby number 3 bridge in Amlekhgunj this morning.

            According to Bara Police Spokesperson Dadhiram Neupane, the deceased have been identified as truck driver Purna Gurung, 28, of Tanahun, bus driver and Hari Shumsher Suwal Thapa, 40, of Hetauda, Makawanpur. One is yet to be identified, he shared. The three breathed their last while undergoing treatment in Hetauda.

            Seven critically injured persons were taken to Hetauda and Chitwan Medical College, police said. Other 20 injured persons are being treated in local hospitals, it was informed.

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Kathmandu Valley reports cases of looting in pretext of exchanging dollars

            Kathmandu, Dec 20: Cases of looting in the name of exchanging dollar are on the rise of late in the Kathmandu Valley.

            According to the District Police Range, Kathmandu, a racket of looters is reportedly active in the Valley.

            Police Range Kathmandu’s Spokesperson and Superintendent of Police, Kumud  Dhungel said cases of fraud in the pretext of exchanging dollars are being reported from various parts of the Valley.

            Police is trying to crack down on the trend by mobilizing a dedicated team for the past few days, it is said.

            A police team jointly mobilized from the District Police Range, Kathmandu and the Kathmandu Valley Crime Investigation Office arrested eight people as of Tuesday in course of conducting a search.

            Those arrested in this connection are 34-year-old Khadka Bahadur Tamang of Dhading and currently living in Samakhusi, Kathmandu; 36-year-old Ashok Limbu of Morang; Ram Bahadur Lama of Sindhupalchowk; Subba Tamang, 36, of Duwakot, Bhaktapur; Chandra Bahadur Tamang, 45, of Tarakeshwar, Kathmandu and Rel Bahadur Tamang, Devraj Tamang and Krishna Kumari Tamang alias Manju of Sindhupalchowk.

            Police confiscated 16 stacks of genuine US Dollars of 50 denomination, two copies of passport, one Tilahari necklace and a scooter from them. Further investigation is on by keeping the arrestees at the District Police Range, Kathmandu. Police said search is ongoing for other people involved in looting in complicity with the arrested persons.

Parliamentary Committee approves names of six for appointments as SC judges

            Kathmandu, Dec 20: The Parliamentary Hearing Committee has endorsed the names of six as future judges of Supreme Court (SC). A meeting of the Committee today endorsed the recommendations put forth by the Judicial Council.

            Chaired by Committee senior-most member Pashupati Shumsher Rana, the meeting approved the nominations of Sarangha Subedi, Abdul Ajij Musalman, Mahesh Sharma Poudel, Tek Prasad Dhungana, Sunil Pokhrel and Balkrishna Dhakal for appointments as the apex court judges. The Committee had conducted parliamentary hearings on the recommendations on December 15, 17 and 18.

            The Judicial Council on November 21 nominated six as future SC judges.

Former Assistant Minister Neupane dies

            Manma (Kalikot), Dec 20: Former Assistant Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Yagya Raj Neupane, passed away today at the age of 65. 

            He died amidst the treatment for liver complications at Bhaktapur-based Human Organ Transplant Centre this morning, according to his relative Umakant Neupane.  He had been under treatment at the Centre for the past three months. He is survived by his two sons and three daughters.

            Neupane had been elected the House of Representatives (HoR) member from Kalikot representing the CPN (UML) during the 1994 election. He served as the Assistant Minister for Communications and Information Technology from August 26-December 24, 1998.

            He was born in Phukot of Raskot municipality-8 in Kalikot.

Metal industries in Taksar shrinking

               Taksar (Bhojpur), Dec 20: The metal industries in historical marketplace in Bhojpur district-Taksar- are on the verge of extinction in lack of skilled human resources and availability of raw materials.

               Only two or three families, mostly from Newar communities, in the locality are currently pursuing the processing and production of metal products.

               The industries that once minted coins and manufactured millions worth of products annually have shrunken to the extent that Buddharaj Shakya and a couple of families are making metal materials upon the demand at present.

               Another local involved in metal business Bimal Kumar Shakya spoke of the need to re-motivate the local metal merchants involved in production and sale of the metal materials to keep alive the metal industries in the ancient marketplace as well as to preserve artworks made up of various metals.

               The artisans that were known to make artistic utensils and tools such as Khukuris made from brass, copper and iron have opted for other professions due to the sustainability concern from the profession the scope of which was narrowing worryingly lately.

               Sanukaji Shakya voiced his concern that it was increasingly becoming difficult to save metal business in Taksar due to the increasing migration rate of artisans to elsewhere and departure from their traditional occupation to other lucrative business and jobs.

               The metal industries here are grappling with lack of availability of coal, wax and skilled human resources. “Once the bustling market place and well-managed industrial centre, the marketplace lately wears deserted look,” bemoaned Shakya.

               The local markets in the vicinity of Taksar see metal products coming from districts in Terai area lately given the negligible number of metal industries in the locality, shared local entrepreneur Nawaraj Shrestha.

               “Taksar that was set up during the Rana reign to primarily mint coins has not been able to produce metal products according to the demand due to lack of human resources and decreasing number of industries,” he lamented.

               According to local residents, the Karuwa (traditional jar) and other metal handicrafts and utensils made here have gained an international fame given the aesthetics and quality of the products.

               The metal industries on the verge of extinction were a cause of concern for CPN (UML) Chairperson and former Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli. In his recent visit to Taksar, Oli took stock of the metal industries and business from the local enterprises, according to entrepreneur Shakya.

               Shakya shared that he briefed visiting leader Oli that he made new products such as Karuwa, kalash (urn), bowl, khukuri and gagri (pitcher) among others from brass and copper after melting old ones.

FNJ lends helping hands to quake affected journalists in Rukum West

            Tribeni (Rukum West), Dec 20:  The Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) has assisted journalists assisted by the November earthquake in Rukum West.

            A team comprising FNJ senior vice-chair Ramesh Bista, general secretary Roshan Puri, and treasurer Kalendra Sejuwal on Wednesday handed a cheque of the assistance amount of Rs 400 thousands to district chair Laxman KC amidst a programme at Musikot Khalanga, the district headquarters of Rukum West.

            During the programme, general secretary Puri said though the assistance was symbolic, the FNJ is committed to standby with them in the days to come. “The FNJ is all aware of the situation of journalists in the quake-affected areas since the beginning,” he said. 

            Senior Vice Chair Bista also announced the readiness to provide training for journalists of affected areas on need basis and cooperating with them for addressing their specific issues.  As he said, the FNJ is expected to make a significant decision to promote the journalism in Jajarkot and Rukum West, the district hit by the quake, once the team gets back to Kathmandu.

            FNJ Rukum West chapter has been urged to ensure the distribution of assistance justifiably.

            The FNJ central team also assisted Rs 400 thousands for journalists in Jajarkot as well.

Vaccination campaign in quake-affected districts from tomorrow

            Kathmandu, Dec 20: The government is set to launch a vaccination campaign against measles-rubella and typhoid in the areas affected by the November 3 earthquake.

            According to Ministry Spokesperson Dr Prakash Budhathoki, the campaign will be kicking off Thursday and it will cover Jajarkot and Rukum West, the districts significantly affected by the disaster and in Surkhet, Salyan, Dailekh, Kalikot and Jumla. 

            Vaccines against measles-rubella will be given to children from six months to 15 years of age while typhoid vaccine will be given to all from 16 to 45 years of age.

            He said Jajarkot reported measles cases two years ago and the campaign aims to prevent any potential case ahead.

            In addition to this, health concerns, particularly measles-rubella infection, is likely after any quake and the campaign has been planned. Children of the affected area may have been deprived of nutrition and have drunk unsafe water, finding themselves vulnerable to the infection.   The campaign will run till December 30. 

Finance Minister calls for collective reform for fully running Udayapur Cement Factory

            Kathmandu, Dec 20: Finance Minister Dr Prakash Sharan Mahat has said Udayapur Cement Factory is important for the whole country.

            All should join hands to address the problems the Factory is facing, he said while inspecting the factory and the quarries it has been using.

            According to the Minister’s secretariat, in course of the observation, the Finance Minister said it is possible to re-operate the Factory only through collective efforts of all. He added that only the government giving grants to the factory is not the solution of the problem.

            “Attention should be given to the management and the workers employed here too should feel a sense of responsibility. This situation has arisen as nobody has realized their responsibility. One should change, learning from the past,” he said.

            Stating that many industries are run by the private sector, the Finance Minister said it is necessary to address the grievances of the workers. “The private sector itself buys the land, develops the industrial structures, purchases machines taking loans and operates the industries. It makes profit even after paying all the operating cost,” he further added.

            The Government of Japan has assisted in operating the Udayapur Cement Factory. The industry was set up at an investment of Rs 440 million. Even now, the Factory need not pay the principal and interest of one billion rupees. Only bearing the operating cost is required, but the Factory has not been able to meet this.

            According to Minister Dr Mahat, the Factory’s current liability is Rs 750 million. “There is also weakness in the government’s appointing the manager. We overlooked professionalism. The management leadership was also weak. Workers did not fulfill their responsibilities well while stressing only on asking for facilities. The cumulative effect of all this is the present situation of the Factory,” he reasoned.

            The Minister said the problem has been accumulating even before the COVID-19 pandemic.

            “A lack of thinking is there that its assets should be protected attaching due importance and so success could not be achieved. The government’s participation is not necessary in the industry, but the government invested to make the factory competitive with the private sector and the friendly countries also provided support in this. It is necessary to give continuity to this.”

            As the Finance Minister said, it would be difficult to save the Factory if commitment is not there from the management and the trade unions. He mentioned that it is necessary to use new technology in tune with the time for saving the Factory, and the government was ready to extend the support if works are carried out with the mentality of salvaging the industry.

            “The Factory should sustain amidst competition. This industry cannot be forcibly saved only by investing the tax money raised in other sectors. The management, workers, the proprietors and local government should expresses collective resolve to save it. Then only shall the government see what it can do,” Finance Minister Mahat said, emphasizing on showing professionalism in works.

EC endorses voter list for NA elections; 2,047 to take part in January 25 voting

            Kathmandu, Dec 20: The Election Commission (EC) has endorsed the voter list in view of the upcoming election to the National Assembly, the upper house of the Federal Parliament, scheduled to take place on January 25. 

            As per the endorsed voter list, there are a total of 2,047 voters who include Province Assembly (PA) members, chairs and vice-chairs of rural municipalities and mayors and deputy-mayors of municipalities for the upper house election.

            Of them, 549 are PA members and 1,498 are local representatives. Though there should be total 550 voters from the PA, one member is no more and it has been fixed at 549.

            Likewise, names of one rural chair, one vice chair and one deputy mayor are not in the voter list as they have already passed away. Similarly, the names of one rural municipality chair and four mayors have been excluded in the list as they currently remain suspended from the posts, according to a press statement issued by Commission Spokesperson Shaligram Sharma Paudel. 

            The total weightage of vote of PA members is 29,097, and it is 28,462 of local representatives: 57,500 in total. The voting weightage of a PA member is 53 followed by 19 of a local people’s representative as fixed by the Commission.

            The voter name list will be available in the election officers’ office by this January 5 and it could be corrected through a certain procedure if needed. The EC will publish the final list on January 7.

TU’s 49th Convocation in the process to enter Guinness Book of World Records

               Kathmandu, Dec 20: The Tribhuvan University (TU) has taken forward the process to get into the Guinness Book of World Records for graduating the highest number of students at one place at the same time.

               According to the TU, the representatives of the Guinness World Book of Records had come and visited the recently held TU’s 49th convocation where the TU claimed for the record, said Yogendra Prasad Dahal, Chief of the Information and Public Division of the University, clarifying the matter.

               His statement has come at the time when various types of news regarding the convocation organized at the Dasarath Stadium in Kathmandu on December 18 were doing the rounds in the media and social media.

               Altogether 12,215 students of various disciplines graduated on the convocation day held in the presence of President Ramchandra Paudel and Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’.

               Of the total 74,749 students enlisted in the 61st grace list of the TU, 12,415 had applied for graduation ceremony, said the TU.

               Among the graduates, 8,098 students graduated in Bachelor’s level, 4,104 in Master’s level, 44 in M Phil and 112 in PhD, the oldest university in the country said.

               Last year, over 10,000 students had applied for the graduation ceremony.

Security Printing services could be available within home: Minister Sharma 

Kathmandu, Dec 20: Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Rekha Sharma, has said reliable and quality services regarding the security printing could be available within the country itself.

As she stated, the government will establish a specialized agency to render reliable and quality security printing services.

In her replies to lawmakers’ queries over the Security Printing Bill in a meeting of the Education, Health and Information Technology Committee, House of Representatives, today, the Minister said the government is committed to deal with and promote security printing works as a project of national pride.  

She said the Bill that has been already endorsed by the National Assembly has proposed to establish a specialized center with authority to deal with the security printing affairs.

The government Spokesperson said the Bill was presented in the House in 2077 BS and the Budget Speech for the current fiscal 2080-81 BS has the provisions of looking after the security printing affairs and the works of Department of Printing from a single entity and it has been advised to establish a center to look after the security printing affairs by keeping the Department of Printing as it is.

Minister Sharma shared that the government had a plan to phase out additional postal services in phase-wise and establish a postal service department in each local level.

Krishna Bahadur Raut, Secretary at the Ministry of Communication and Information and Technology, the Bill would be enriched on the basis of the amendments received from the National Assembly and by taking into account the current situation.

He opined that the Bill could be further enriched on the basis of the suggestions furnished by parliamentarians.

In the meeting presided by Bhanubhakta Joshi, President of the Committee, member Dr Chandra Bhandari called for ending the trend of ‘copy-paste’ the definitions and terminology used in foreign countries while formulating the laws here.

Another member Devendra Poudel viewed that the agencies such as Janak Education Material Centre Ltd, Sajha Publiction, Nepal Academy among others could be involved for the Security Printing Press.

Sumana Shrestha, another member, opined that the tendency to breach the confidentially of the materials printed in the Security Printing Press could be discouraged if hefty fine was imposed instead of an extended period of imprisonment.

Office assistant killed in wild tusker attack

Arjundhara (Jhapa), Dec 20: An office assistant working at the Local Level Ward Office was killed due to the attack by a wild elephant. The deceased is 55-year-old Pathal Rajbanshi, the office assistant at Haldibari rural municipality-2.

Contact with Rajbanshi was lost after he went for a morning walk, said Dhundiraj Giri, Police Inspector at the District Police Office. The family members mounted a search for him after he did not return home and he was found lying dead in a drain near the house.

A team of the District Forest Division Office and police is conducting an investigation in this connection and Rajbanshi’s body has been taken to the Mechi Provincial Hospital for a post-mortem examination.

Two people were killed in wild elephant attacks in Haldibari and Damak in November before this.

Six Supreme Court Justices appointed

            Kathmandu, Dec 20: President Ramchandra Paudel has, on the recommendation of the Judicial Council and in accordance with Article 129 (2) of the Constitution, appointed six justices to the Supreme Court.

            Those appointed as new justices of Supreme Court today are Saranga Subedi, Abdul Aziz Musalman, Mahesh Sharma Paudel, Tek Prasad Dhungana, Sunil Pokharel and Balkrishna Dhakal.

            Prior to this, Subedi, Mulsman, Sharma and Dhungana were High Court judges while Pokharel and Dhakal were senior advocates.

            Earlier today, the parliamentary hearing committee had approved their names, paving the way for their appointment.

Strategic coordination in Global Water leadership necessary

            Kathmandu, Dec 20:  The Water and Energy Commission Secretariat held a discussion on strategy draft for necessary coordination and direction to Global Water Leadership Programme.

            The draft presented in the meeting held on Wednesday mentions that strategic coordination of the Secretariat was essential to materialize the Global Water Leadership Programme.

            On the occasion, Commission Secretary Sarita Dawadi shared that there is lack of implementation of policy, institutional coordination, statistics and capacity building.

            Dawadi pointed out that policies formulated by the government to carry out activities in water resources sector should be implemented and concerned ministries should make institutional coordination.

            Finance consultant Ganesh Raj Joshi laid emphasis on collaboration of three tier governments and non-government organisations for financial cooperation.

            Representative of Water Resources Development Organisation, Bitu Krishna Upreti, shared that there should be regulation along with guarantee of environmental assessment for water, sanitation and hygiene, environmental monitoring of legal provisions and audit results should be made public.

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Sabry arrives in Kathmandu

            Kathmandu, Dec 20: Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mum Ali Sabry has arrived in Kathmandu on a four-day visit on Wednesday.

            The Sri Lankan Minister arrived here to attend the first meeting of Nepal-Sri Lanka Joint Commission He was was received by Foreign Secretary Sewa Lamsal at Tribhuvan International Airport, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

            The Joint Commission meeting is being held on December 21 to 22. The meeting will have participation of officials from various ministries from Nepal, while the Nepali delegation will be led by Foreign Minister NP Saud.

            The foreign ministers will also hold a bilateral meeting.

            Moreover, the Sri Lankan Minister is scheduled to pay courtesy call on President Ram Chandra Paudel and Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal.

Infant found in toilet of Air Arabia’s aircraft

            Kathmandu, Dec 20: An infant was found in a toilet of Air Arabia’s aircraft today.

            According to Spokesperson at the Tribhuvan International Airport, Subas Jha, the infant was found in the toilet of Air Arabia’s aircraft that arrived in Kathmandu from Sarjah Airport of the UAE. The plane landed at the TIA at 9:10 am.

            “Police have arrested a woman suspecting that the child found in toilet was her baby. The woman and infant have been taken to hospital”, Jha added.

South Asian Skateboard Competition from tomorrow

            Kathmandu, Dec 20: The 5th South Asian Skate Board Competition and Skate Jatra is being held here from Thursday.

            A total of nine teams from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Pakistan and the Maldives along with Nepal from South Asia and Myanmar and Thailand will compete in the tournament being held in Dunga Skate Park in Tilottama, Butwal. It is being orgnaised at the joint initiative of Nepal Skate Board, Skate Boarding Association and Skate and Nepal, said Achyut Khanal, the chair of the organizing committee.

            According to the organizers, 100 players from Nepal will participate in the competition. Eight players from each country will enter the title race from the semi-finals.

            The top three in both male and female categories will receive cash prizes of USD 1,000, USD 500 and USD 250 respectively.

            The male and female athletes who finish in the top three positions in the competition will also get an opportunity to train at the Skate Aid International in Germany.

‘Achieve targets’, PM Dahal’s diktat to ministers

            Kathmandu, Dec 20: Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has asked the ministers again to achieve targets. During a review meeting of his one year in office, PM Dahal sought work plans from the ministers.

            The review meeting on Wednesday witnessed progress reports from Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development; and Ministry of Land Management, Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation. In the meeting, PM Dahal directed the ministers and secretaries to carry out works by keeping people in centre.

            “It has been a year I’ve assumed office. Now, I’m planning to see progress along with work plan,” he said, adding that future plans must be prepared based on the past progress and weakness. According to him, he was for regular discussion, review and evaluation. “People must be ensured with services delivery effectively so that they build trust in State,” he reminded.

            Unless agricultural development and scientific land management are forwarded, prosperity cannot be achieved, he said, adding that hydropower and industry are also important. Industries are also based on agriculture.

            PM Dahal said time has come to establish a chemical fertilizer plant within the country. Relying on foreign country for ever is not good. Even the compost can be used optimally, he suggested.

            He further informed that next year’s budget would be prepared in a new way, for which comprehensive discussions would be held.

            On the occasion, Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Development Beduram Bhusal viewed seven priorities could be set in agriculture sector- irrigation and water supply, management of productive seeds along with farmer literacy, self-reliance on chemical fertilizers, mechanization, market management, development of agro-based industries, and production of technical workforce.

            Similarly, Minister for Land Management, Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation, Ranjita Shrestha Chaudhary, informed that government had already taken initiatives to address the problems facing landless squatters, unorganized settlement, and haruwa charua (former bonded labour).

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Social values main basis for laws related to social sites: Minister Sharma 

            Kathmandu, Dec 20: Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Rekha Sharma, has said that Nepali norms and values are the minimum basis for the use of social networking sites.

            At an interaction with stakeholders on formulation of laws related to social networking sites in Nepal organised by the Ministry here on Wednesday, Minister Sharma pointed out the need of formulating laws related to use of social sites making the social norms and values as the basis for it.  “It does not mean that social sites should not be used in the era of information technology as it has becoming the lifestyle of the Nepali society. But formulation of laws has been realized in order to harmonize the use of social sites with values of the Nepali Society. The Ministry has been preparing draft to formulate the laws,” she said.

            The Communications Minister viewed that the Nepali society is different than the western society and laid emphasis on the need of keeping the freedom of expression in centre while formulating laws related to social sites.

            Stating that guidelines have already been issued to make the use of social sites systematic, Minister Sharma added the guidelines could be the important basis of laws formulation and self-regulation, awareness and regulation. 

            On the occasion, legal practitioners, IT experts and various stakeholders suggested about different aspects to be included in laws related to social sites.

One more Nepali in Russian army dies, four captive in Ukraine

            Kathmandu, Dec 20: One more Nepali working in Russian Army has died. The dead one has been identified as Kundan Nagal, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

            Russia has been requested again via the Russian Ambassador to Nepal to repatriate the dead bodies of the Nepalis, who joined Russian Army and provide compensation to families of the dead and the injured ones.

            In a press release issued today, Russia has been asked again not to recruit Nepali citizens in military and send back those Nepalis who are in the army. Similarly, information is sought immediately from Russia about the number of Nepalis who have joined the Russian army, injured ones and their condition.

            The Foreign Ministry has also urged all Nepalis to compulsorily receive no objection certificates (NOC) even from Nepali Embassies and General Consulates of India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the UAE, Saudi Arab, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain if they are traveling to Russia via these countries. Earlier, the NOC was issued only from Consular Service Department under the Foreign Ministry for those going to Russia.

            Meanwhile, the government has expressed serious concern over four Nepalis being held captive in Ukraine. The government has requested the government of Ukraine via diplomatic channel to release and return the captives, according to the Foreign Ministry.

            Efforts are underway for the release and return of the Nepalis held captive, via International Committee of Red Cross.

            Those held captive by Ukraine are Bibek Khatri from Rajapur-1, Bardiya; Siddhartha Dhakal from Mandandeupur-6, Kavrepalanchok; Bikas Rai from Letang-2, Morang; and Pratik Pun from Runtigadhi-8, Rolpa. Utmost efforts are underway for their release, the Foreign Ministry has said.

‘No need to panic from new variant of COVID-19’          

            Kathmandu, Dec 20: The government has urged one and all not to panic from the new variant of coronavirus seen in India.

            Spokesperson at the Ministry of health and Population, Dr Prakash Budhathoki, said there was no need to panic from the new variant of coronavirus seen in Kerala state of neighbouring India. There is no situation to be worry as the infection seen in India is related to respiratory system.

            “Problems related to respiratory system are now increasing in India and China. ICU, oxygen plants as well as other physical infrastructures constructed during COVID-19 pandemic can be used if needed”, he shared.

            Budhathoki mentioned although new variant of coronavirus has been detected, there are no new symptoms in new variant of coronavirus, adding the symptom related to respiratory problems is seen is the new variant. 

            Health desks set up at check points and international airport have been kept in ready position and request has been made put patients with respiratory problems under special supervision, he added.

            The Spokesperson informed that patients suffering from respiratory problems since long have been recommended for gene sequencing.

            The World Health Organisation has confirmed the new variant of COVID-19 in Kerala State of India. 

Pun appointed PADT Executive Director

            Kathmandu, Dec 20: Journalist Lakshmi Pun has been appointed as the new Executive Director of the Pashupati Area Development Trust.

            Pun was appointed to the post by a meeting of PADT Governing Council held on Wednesday under the chairmanship of Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Sudan Kirati.

            The tenure of the outgoing Executive Director Ghanashyam Khatiwada ended on December 17.

PM Dahal takes stock of leader Yadav’s health condition

            Bhaktapur, Dec 20: Prime Minister and Chairperson of CPN (Maoist Centre), Pushpa Kamal Dahal has taken stock of the health status of ailing leader Matrika Yadav.

            PM Dahal reached leader Yadav’s residence at Madhyapurthimi-4 in Bhaktapur and acquired information about the latter’s health condition. Maoist Centre leader Yadav has been suffering from fever and stomach problems for some weeks.

            PM Dahal wished speedy recovery of the ailing leader.

Three killed in elephant attack

            Jhapa, Dec 20: Three people have died after being attacked by wild elephant in Jhapa in the past one month.

            Two of the deceased were employees and one a civilian, Division Forest Office Jhapa said. Two people from Haldibari rural municipality and one from Damak municipality were killed by wild elephants coming out of the Jalthal forest.

            Earlier this morning, 58-year-old Patal Rajwanshi, an office assistant of Ward No. 2, was killed, head of the office, Meghraj Rai said. He was trampled to death by an elephant in Parokhapi of the same ward during a morning walk.

            Likewise, Dhan Bahadur, the forest guard of Rankali Community Forest located in Haldibari Rural Municipality-3, was killed in an attack by elephants on December 1. Prior to this, Padmalal Tamang of Beldangi Camp located in Damak Municipality-2 died in an elephant attack on November 22.

NSL: Jhapa defeats Dhangadhi

            Kathmandu, Dec 20: Jhapa Football Club (FC) has defeated Dhangadhi FC in the match held today under the second edition of the Nepal Super League football tournament.

            In the match held this evening at Dashrath Stadium, Jhapa scored a brace to defeat Dhangadi 2-0. Anjan Bista and Samiraj Thokar scored for Jhapa in the 53rd and 77th minute of the game respectively.

            However, in the 79th minute of the game, Jhapa was limited to 10 players after Dhiraj Thajali received a red card for a foul on Simon Limbu.

            With this win, Jhapa has climbed to the fourth position in the points table with 10 points in seven games. Similarly, with the loss today, Dhangadhi is in second place with 12 points from seven matches.

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