• Saturday, 2 March 2024

Major survey for petro exploration in Dailekh reports 80 percent progress

Published Date : January 22, 2024

Dailekh, Jan 22: Eighty percent work progress has been reported in a final survey for the exploration of petroleum products in Dailekh. This survey based in Bhirkhet, the project’s main point, is said to be decisive for the exploration.

For the final survey, 45 ropanis of land (one ropani is equivalent to 5476 sq. ft.) at Bhirkhet of Bhairabhi rural municipality-1 has been acquired and land owners have been already provided with compensation. Twenty seven families received the compensation for the acquired land (Rs 175,000 per ropani).

This survey is said to be significant in determining the volume of raw of petroleum products and gas.According to project chief for the Department of Mines and Geology, Dinesh Kumar Napit, studies so far suggest that Dailekh could be a major source for petro and gas.

The final drilling that will go underground up to four kilometers will be vital in determining the available volume of petro products.  The drilling is assisted by a giant machine brought from China, according to him.

The exploration is underway here since September-October, 2019.  It is jointly carried out by the Nepal Government, the Department and the China-based Geological Survey at the cost of Rs 2.40 billion.

Temporary land ownership certificates being distributed in Dharche

Gorkha, Jan 22: Distribution of temporary land ownership certificates (nissa) has begun at Dharche rural municipality in northern Gorkha district.

Dharche rural municipality chairperson Laxman Gurung said the temporary certificates to the unorganized residents living in the municipality since last Friday. He shared the National Land Commission has distributed the certificates through the rural municipality to the residents who have been unorganized for a long time.

“We have started distributing temporary ownership certificates to the unsettled residents from Ward No. 7, Lapu in the rural municipality,” he said, adding, “We will gradually distribute to all landless slum dwellers and unorganized residents within the municipality.” Chairperson Gurung said that in the initial phase 12 households in Lapu were distributed with the assurance certificates to the unorganized families.

“The certificates have been distributed to those who have completed the process,” he said, adding, “Now the task of distributing certificates will start after the completion of the land measurement work.” According to him, the genuine unorganized residents have been identified and distributed among the applicants.

Landless Dalits, squatters, and unorganized settlers, who are expecting to get the land, are elated after obtaining the land certificates after completing further process soon.

The Commission has a provision to provide land to the unorganized residents by charging revenue on various grounds including income generation, property, nature of land, assessment of land area settlement. Similarly, landless Dalits and landless squatters do not have to pay revenue while acquiring land.


Tourists prefer houses with thatched roofing

Muglin (Chitwan), Jan 22: Even in the hilly region of Chitwan, traditional houses with thatched roofs are rarely found in recent times. After the ‘Gorkha earthquake’ in 2015, most of the houses were constructed using zinc corrugated sheets.

The hay-roofed traditional house of Tika Gurung, a local of Ichhakamana rural municiplaity-2, Mayatar, however was not damaged in the destructive earthquake. Gurung had planned to demolish the house and build a new one.

In the recent past, the house has become a tourists’ preference so he switched off his mind and started repairing the house. With the expansion of the Fisling-Shaktikhor road, the house in Mayata has become the choice of the tourists.

Homeowner Gurung said, “I was thinking of building a new house by demolishing it, but with the increase in the number of tourists in Mayatar for the past few years with the expansion of the road, it has become the choice of tourists to take photos and stay in the 100-year-old roof house. According to him, the tourists coming here return only after taking photos at the house.

According to locals, this house with peculiar roofing is century-old. There has been a crowd of photographers taking snapshots of this house located on the north side of the blacktopped Fisling-Shaktikhor road.

The house maintaining originality has old-fashioned beehives. It has not been long since tourists started coming here. According to local Bhim Bahadur Praja, this was once the route of trekking from Gorkha, Dhading and other districts to India via Hetauda and Birgunj. But with the development of the road, Mayatar became unconnected after pedestrians stopped walking along the area.

After the construction of the Fisling-Shaktikhor rural road, the mobility of the people has increased in Mayatar.

“I didn’t think there would be so much mobility in this place, it’s all because of the road, someday there are cars and bikes all over this courtyard,” he said. “It is not only easy for the visitors, but the agricultural products of the locals here have also got access to market.

Ward Chair Pancha Bahadur Chepang said with the up-gradation of the Fisling-Shaktikhor road, the movement of tourists has increased and it has become easier for the locals to take agricultural produce to the market.

Some passengers going to Hetauda from Kathmandu use the Shaktikhor-Fisling road. Due to this, many vehicles have started plying through this road. This route can be reached from Fisling, Mauwakhola and Hugdikhola of Prithvi Highway through the old headquarters of Chitwan via Upardanggadhi, Shaktikhor and Tandi.

Two persons die in mini-truck accident

Damauli (Tanahun), Jan 22: Two persons died in a mini truck accident that occurred at Devghat Rural Municipality-2, Kotbaidi Bhokteni last night.

Two persons travelling through the mini truck died when the vehicle (Ga 1 Kha 4181) en route to Chhipchhipe from Damauli had veered some 500 metres off the road, the District Police Office, Tanahun confirmed.

The deceased have been identified as Nar Bahadur Gurung, 65, and Bimaya Gurung, 45, of Devghat-3, Dagara, informed Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Mohan Bahadur Khand.

Search for the truck driver is underway, he said. Both the injured in the accident who were rushed to Damauli Hospital were pronounced dead this morning, police said.


Tri-national art and culture performed

Kathmandu, Jan 22: Artists from Nepal, Cambodia and Burma presented their arts and cultures amidst a programme in Philadelphia, US on Sunday.

At the programme organized on the banner of Sagarmatha and Lumbini, the artists performed songs and dance of their respective countries.

The notion of brotherhood, peace and cooperation has been reflected on the banner of the programme, namely ‘Intro Cultural Event-2024’. The banner depicted the images of Nepali heritages, Sagarmatha and Lumbini.

The event was attended by Nepali, Karen, Khmer, Burmese and Cambodian community living in Philadelphia, according to a press release issued by the Intra-National Welfare and Support Foundation of America, the host.

At the joint cultural programme, students from Nepali origin of Intra Dance School, Harrisburg had performed cultural dances on Nepali folk songs.

The traditional Sakela dance performed by Nepali artist Roma Rai and her group had become a center of attraction.

On the occasion, Kevin Chin of Cambodian origin and Thang Song of Burmese origin had shared the information about their cultures.

Foundation Chairperson Dilli Adhikari said the programme was organized to culturally unite Nepali people living across the globe.

‘Alternative sources will be optimally utilized smooth water supply in Kathmandu’

Kathmandu, Jan 22: Minister for Drinking Water Mahendra Roy Yadav has pledged to provide water to the Kathmandu Valley residents throughout the year by making optimum use of the water wasted in the rivulets and stone spouts even in the absence of Melamchi in the rainy season.

The government has been effortful to provide drinking water to the people of the capital by utilizing water from alternative sources as Melamchi water could not be supplied throughout the year, the minister said.

“At present, 25 per cent people have access to clean drinking water and 95 per cent to basic drinking water across the country. The government has been carrying out homework to manage and properly utilize the water wasted at night from stone spouts and other sources as an alternative to Melamchi”.


Artificial intelligence: Time to ponder potentials  and perils

Narayan Prasad Ghimire

Kathmandu, Jan 22: It has not been long that a noted historian Yuval Noah Harari warned, “Once Artificial Intelligence (AI) makes better decisions than us about careers and perhaps even relationships, our concept of humanity and of life will have to change.”

The spurt of AI has swayed the world.In his book, one of the most in modern time, ’21 Lessons for the 21st Century,’ published in 2018, Harari had made several warnings for the future generation, among which threat of AI is one. However, it was not only Harari to alert the world on AI potentials and threats. Number of researchers, sociologists, computer scientists, development practitioners, tech optimists and pessimists were making similar predictions.

Undoubtedly, the emergence of AI created euphoria as the internet and printing press had done in the respective times. Disruption of information ecosystem, breach of hierarchy and assault on power dynamics are resulted with thriving printing press and the internet. Now, same has been intensified by AI at an unimaginable scale and speed.

With accelerated creation of data, application of algorithm and competitive race on AI across the globe, a new world order is being created where tech giants are on top. Already enslaved, huge section of humanity is at the receiving end, while those playing with AI are spreading optimism and enjoying from the ‘winner-take-all’ model of tech business.

Amidst this, the warning of the historian Harari counts much. With the hijacking of brain, the machines fed with AI have begun giving more precise results than the humans. As such, is it simply ease, please and convenience to human or grave threat to human brain and cognition? It warrants serious debate and discussion.

When the OpenAI launched ChatGPT in November 2022, it quickly spread global shock wave. The content generation in no time dazzled the human. Give a command, and it serves you instantly. The Google was evidently dwarfed by the ChatGPT. From a student’s homework to university research, it dominated the landscapes of modern information, knowledge, innovation and technology. Co-authoring with ChatGPT became a new fad. However, it could not remain without criticisms. Many launched astute analyses. Several journals resorted to banning ChatGPT as co-author.

The OpenAI however continued advancements. ChatGPT-3 was advanced to GPT-4 in March 2023. It undoubtedly marveled creation of diverse contents- text, image, video. Isn’t it a better decision than humans as Harari viewed?

AI-generated images rife in Nepal

Some months back, with the onset of winter, the Facebook and Twitter in Nepal were rife with AI-generated images showing some people ready to eat hot steamed dumplings (momo) while some ready to grab cups of scalded tea and coffee. Now, media have begun using relevant images as well.

There are not simply the cases of AI benefits, but the assault on humanity. With the content (text-story, poem, play, photo, video) creation by AI, huge numbers of jobs are already in crisis. It is sheer threat to human life. Even in Nepal, many content writers, translators and editors have lost jobs, thereby facing dent in their incomes and financial sustainability.

In this wake, a research report released recently by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) must have taken many by surprise. The IMF report, named ‘Gen-AI: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Work’ stated, “Almost 40 percent of global employment is exposed to AI, with advanced economies at greater risk, but also better poised to exploit AI benefits than emerging market and developing economies. In advanced economies, about 60 percent of jobs are exposed to AI, due to prevalence of cognitive-task-oriented jobs.”

Moreover, the report warned that ‘a new measure of potential AI complementarity suggests that, of these, about half may be negatively affected by AI’. “Overall exposure is 40 percent in emerging market economies and 26 percent in low-income countries,” the report explained.

Al allowed in writing legal opinions in UK

On the other hand, a news story on positive side of AI has been a headline in global media. The UK judges were allowed to use AI in writing legal notes/opinion but with cautions. The Nepali media- The Rising Nepal, and The Kathmandu Post dailies – also covered the news from Associated Press.

 The Rising Nepal published the news under the headline, ‘Approval given to use AI in writing legal opinions’ in its 6th page, while The Kathmandu Post made it a front-page story, ‘UK permits judges in England and Wales to use AI in writing legal opinions’ on January 9. The news stated, “The Courts and Tribunals Judiciary last month said AI could help write opinions but stressed it should not be used for research or legal analyses because the technology can fabricate information and provide misleading, in accurate and biased information.”

The above cases are indeed the examples of ‘creative disruption’ of AI. As the story suggested caution required over fabrication of information, the spread of misinformation, disinformation, mal-information and deep-fake with the use of AI is another grave challenge. 2024 is an election year, where dozens of elections are being held including in India, US, and the UK.

Whether the AI will influence electoral integrity has been a matter for concern. Researchers are engrossed on it. The super speed of disinformation and deep fakes with AI is a headache to many professionals and governments.

Guterres lambasts tech giants

Moreover, the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, recently lambasted tech companies during his address during the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland. The Guardian wrote, ‘ Big technology companies are recklessly pursuing profits from artificial intelligence and urgent action is needed to mitigate the risks from the rapidly growing sector, the head of the United Nations has warned.’

When it comes to the regulation of AI, the US, EU and China are large players in digital and AI race and governance. The US has fostered liberal competitive digital atmosphere, thereby contributing to thriving AI race among tech companies, while China is focused on cyber sovereignty and advancing AI accordingly. Equally important role is played by the EU countries, advancing research and urging for ethical and responsible use of AI. The EU seems engrossed on emerging as a global leader of tech regulation.

It is time to ponder the spurt of artificial intelligence (AI), which is gripping us at scale. We are at watershed moment that the non-humans are sprawling and stalking the sacrosanct terrain of humans- the cognition- and rendering the humans irrelevant.

Informed, intellect debate essential

As the yawning digital divide has already crippled poor and marginalized countries and communities, the tech empires which dominate the global AI race are likely to further afflict the vulnerable ones. Networking, collaboration, knowledge and information creation and sharing without jeopardizing national interest is essential for the countries like Nepal to reap benefit from AI.

In this regard, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology is learnt to be preparing Artificial Intelligence Policy. The Ministry can facilitate and forward the debate and discussions on AI under the leadership of informed, educated and intellect milieu rather than mediocre rallying.

Nepal addresses Third South Summit, stressing on enhancing South-South solidarity

Kathmandu, Jan 22: Leader of the Nepali delegation, Foreign Secretary Ms. Sewa Lamsal addressed the Third South Summit of the Group of 77 and China, on Sunday. The Summit is being held in Kampala, the capital city of the Republic of Uganda, under the theme of ‘Leaving No One Behind.’

The 3rd South Summit of the Group of 77 and China is being hosted, on 21 and 22 January 2024, by the Republic of Uganda. The Summit has brought more than 134 countries together on a single platform to enhance South-South cooperation in the areas of sustainable development, climate change, trade, and investment, among others, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated in a press release. In the opening segment of the Summit, the President of the78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Mr. Dennis Francis, and the UN Secretary-General Mr. Antonio Guterres also delivered their statements.

Addressing the Summit, the Foreign Secretary Lamsal reiterated Nepal’s support to the Group of 77 and China in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Paris Agreement, and other Internationally Agreed Development Goals including Doha Program of Action. She expressed Nepal’s strong commitment to fostering solidarity, harmony, and cooperation among countries of the Global South.

She stressed on the importance of deeper cooperation in addressing the myriad of global challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, inequality, debt distress, conflicts, climate change, and geopolitical rivalry.On a positive note, she highlighted that the Global South is emerging as an economic powerhouse and contributing to more than half of the world’s growth.With 134 member countries comprising over two-thirds of UN members and 80% of the global population, G77 and China, is a strong force to be reckoned with, said Foreign Secretary Lamsal.

‘Together, we can deliver better and greater’, she said.Foreign Secretary Ms. Lamsal urged the Group to play an instrumental role in decision-making and norm-setting in global development and financial architecture. She also called on the Members to collaborate in making multilateralism more inclusive, innovative, and responsive to the needs of developing countries.

While calling for the fulfillment of promises and commitments made by developed countries in terms of Official Development Assistance (ODA), climate financing, and technology transfer, she underscored the importance of strengthening North-South, South-South, and Triangular Cooperation by focusing on the needs of LDCs in trade, infrastructure, and productive capacity.

In the afternoon, Foreign Secretary Ms. Lamsal attended the Luncheon hosted by the President of the Republic of Uganda in honor of the heads of delegations to the Third Summit of G77 and China.The Summit meeting will conclude today with the adoption of the ‘Outcome Document’.

Kathmandu records lowest minimum temperature so far this year

Kathmandu, Jan 22: The minimum temperature in the Kathmandu Valley has dropped to 3.2 degrees Celsius today, making the lowest recorded temperature till date this year.Meteorologist at the Meteorological Forecasting Division, Saroj Pudasaini, said the temperature of Kathmandu valley has been recorded 3.2 degrees Celsius today.  The visibility in Kathmandu Valley has also decreased and it was 3,000 meters.

With the decline in minimum temperature, Kathmandu folks have experienced chilling cold today. Similarly, Tarai area of the country is witnessing thick fog, affecting normal life there.

 As per the weather data recorded on Sunday, Jumla recorded minus 5.6 degrees Celsius, Jomsom minus five degrees Celsius, and Jiri of Dolakha 1.0 degree Celsius. There is possibility of light snowfall at one or two places of high-hilly areas and mountainous areas of Koshi and Gandaki Provinces in the next 24 hours, according to the Division.

High Court Patan issues stay order over PADT executive director appointment

Kathmandu, Jan 22: The High Court Patan has issued an interim order asking the Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT), Governing Council to refrain from implementing its decision to appoint Laxmi Pun as the executive director of the PADT.

A division bench comprising judges Rhishiram Dawadi and Shyam Kumar Bhattarai on Sunday issued the verdict to this regard, disallowing the newly appointed PADT executive director from carrying out official duties.

Upon initial scrutiny, it was found that the academic qualifications and job experiences mentioned in Pun’s bio-data do not match with the criteria specified in the rules. Hence, the court has withheld the appointment until the matter is finally sorted out by the court.

Pun was appointed on the post by the December 20 decision of the PADT Governing Council. It may be noted that one Bharat Marasini on January 11 moved the court against the appointment of Pun as the PADT executive director. In the writ, it has been claimed that Pun failed to meet academic qualifications and criteria for the appointment on the post.

The criteria for the appointment require a Master’s degree in any subject from a certified academic institution and a minimum of 15 years of experience as a second class officer in the government service or an organized institution registered as per the existing law or an international organization. In case of a Bachelor’s degree, the minimum required job experience is at least 20 years.

DPM Shrestha stresses on legal, institutional arrangements to curb financial crime

Kathmandu, Jan 22:  Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha has   pointed out the need of making legal and institutional arrangements to curb financial crime. Addressing the Crime Investigation Review Seminar organised at National Police Academy, Maharajgunj, today, DPM Shrestha mentioned that necessary legal and institutional arrangements would be made as well as technical and capable human resources developed for the investigation of financial crimes. 

“Information has been received that dealing of billions of rupees is being done through crypto. The government has considered it illegal. Transaction of foreign currencies is being done in a new way.

A new trend to open letter of credit (LC) has been seen,” he shared, adding it has created problem in the economy and use of crypto was also seen in recent gold scam. Underscoring the need to prepare capable human resources to investigate the crypto currency, the Home Minister said the government has realized the lack of legal provisions for the same. 

Cases of financial crime and cheating are increasing in the society after cooperative turned into financial institutions being deviated from its main purpose, explained Home Minister Shrestha. He further said the government has made preparations to formulate laws to control cooperative fraud.

The Deputy Prime Minister informed that a process to take action against cooperative owners involved in financial crime and cheating and to give justice to cooperative victims, adding “The government to give justice to cooperative victims and cooperative will be forwarded as backbone of economy.”  Similarly, Attorney General Dr Dinmani Pokharel said a specialized structure should be made to investigate the financial crime at a time when cases of financial crime are increasing in recent period. 

He laid emphasis on the need of strengthening investigation, prosecution and justice based on the scientific, objective and reliable evidences. Likewise, Inspector general Basant Bahadur Kunwar shared that police have started homework to establish a specialized bureau to investigate financial crime, adding Nepal Police was serious towards crime investigation.

Deputy-Mayor of Kathmandu Metropolitan City, Sunita Dangol, stressed the need of capacity building of Nepal Police to face challenges created by digital crime. She shared that the KMC is going to impart training on scholarship thinking that capable human resources related to cyber security should be developed.

Ram and Sita statue consecrated in Matihani

Mahottari, Jan 22: The Matihani Municipality has carved 25-feet-tall wooden statues of the Hindu deities Shreeram and Sita here in a bid to give a glimpse of the similar statues being installed in the newly-inaugurated Ram Temple in Ayodhya of India.

Sculptor Raju Lal carved the statue in 15 days.The statue of Shreeram depicting the god Ram in his child form installed here resembles the statue being consecrated in the Ram temple in Ayodhya today. 

The statue is being installed at Shree Laxminarayan temple precincts at Matihani-7 in Mahottari district today itself, enacting ceremony to that is being held in Ayodhya, said Hari Prasad Mandal, the Mayor of Matihani Municipality.

 The Laxminarayan shrine is considered the oldest of all the shrines in the country.”The statue of Shreeram and Janaki would be installed at the shrine and consecrated today itself according to the established tradition. Worshipping of the statue will also be started,” said the mayor.

According to him, the consecration of the statue will take place here simultaneously with the consecration in Ayodhya.Maha aarati and cultural celebrations will be organised at the Laxminarayan shrine in the evening today. The Laxminarayan shrine premises, the Laxmisagar pond and surroundings have been lavishly decorated for the celebrations.

The Jaleshwar, Matihani and Manarashishawa municipalities held religious and cultural processions on Sunday ahead of the main celebrations today. Special worship ceremonies are being held also at the Shree Jaleshwarnath temple in Jaleshwar today.

Manarashishawa municipality has given a public holiday today for celebrating the consecration of the statue of Shreeram and Sita. Meanwhile, a celebratory mood can be seen among the people in Janakpurdham, the capital of Madhes province, today along with the inauguration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya of India some 500 kilometres away from here.

The consecration of the statue of Ramlala in Ayodhya has become the talk of the town here in Janakpurdham. People have been talking about this topic everywhere – at tea shops, paan stalls and at the major public places of the city.

Most of the temples in the Madhes province, including those in Janakpurdham, have been decorated. Flags with images of Ram and Hanuman have been installed everywhere at these shrines.Over a two dozen local governments including Janakpurdham Sub-Metropolitan City, Kshireshwarnath Municipality, Sahidnagar, Aurahi and others in Dhanusha district have announced a public holiday today in celebration of the special occasion of inauguration of Lord Ram Temple in Ayodhya.

Minister Sharma insists marketing for business growth

Kathmandu, Jan 22: Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Rekha Sharma, has said marketing is crucial for the growth of any business.

In a capacity enhancement programme organised by the Advertisement Board targeting human resources associated with business promotion of radio and television channels here today, the Minister said, “The current era is the age of marketing and the proliferation of any business faces significant challenges in its absence.”

She hoped that the programme could contribute to promote the marketing affairs.”Radio and televisions are relatively more effective means of communications,” the Minister said, urging them for careful consideration of their contents before dissemination.

In some cases, radio and television advertisements are found to have violated the spirit of the Constitution and existing laws, she pointed out, emphasizing the need to avoid such occurrences. “Even any content aiming to spread positive message to the society and preventing harmful practices such as child marriage and untouchability should not hurt the sentiments of others,” she asserted.

Stating that Advertisement Regulations have been revised to contain leakage in advertisement business, the Minister suggested permitting advertisements agencies to charge just 15 percent in this sector.  Acknowledging the impact of economic slowdown in the advertisement business, she said, “This provision will provide a ground for media to find relatively more income from advertisements and improve their economic status when they complain of financial crisis to pay journalists and employees.”

The Spokesperson for the government utilised the time to share about  the government initiatives for the advancement of media that contributed significantly to the establishment of free Press and the freedom of expression.

Board Chair Laxman Humagain shed light on the efforts to regulate the advertisement market. A provision seeking the Board’s endorsement before dissemination of any advertisement shall come into effect from coming Fagun (February-March).Nepal Advertisement Association Chair Sudip Thapa advised media to accept co-assistance and promote cooperation for the sustainability when advertisement market is shrinking causing the reduction of their income.Workforce associated with media management and marketing are attending the two-day event.

Chinese Photo Expo kicks off 

Kathmandu, Jan 22: Nepal Shandong (Binzhou) Culture Week and Shandong Photography Exhibition have begun here with an objective of cultural exchange as well as promoting tourism between Nepal and China.

Shandong Province and Shandong (Binzhou) Photography Association of China organised the Expo at the coordination of Nepal Tourism Board, Chinese Embassy in Nepal and Federation of Nepali Photojournalists which will run till one week. Sixty different photos of Shandong Province have been kept on display in the expo.

 Inaugurating the expo organised on the occasion of Chinese New Year, Executive Chief of the NTB, Dr Dhananjay Regmi, expressed the belief that the expo would help promotion of tourism between the two countries.

He further said Nepal and China have been enjoying religious and cultural relations since long. 

Similarly, Counsellor at the Chinese Embassy in Nepal, Xie Yu, shared that Shandong is important Province in view of culture and nature. He expressed belief that the photo exhibitions would further strengthen relations between the two countries and would help in tourism promotion.

Likewise, President of Nepal-China Friendship Forum, Dr Kalyan Raj Sharma, Chairperson of Nepal Association of Rafting Agencies, Shiva Adhikari, Binzhou Photography Association President, Chairperson of Federation of Nepali Photojournalists, Hari Prasad Regmi, among others, suggested to organise such type of photo exhibitions in both countries.

National Assembly election: Election publicity prohibited from tonight

Kathmandu, Jan 22: The Election Commission has fixed the period from 12 midnight today until the voting is closed for the National Assembly election on January 25 as the period in which the election publicity activities are prohibited.Voting is taking place on January 25 for filling 19 seats in the National Assembly, the upper chamber of the Federal Parliament.

The Commission stated that the political party office-bearers, candidates, the sister organisations of the parties and other persons, institutions or agencies that have to abide by the election code of conduct should not hold any form of discussions, interactions, assemblies, workshop seminars etc during the time election publicity has been prohibited.

Election Commission spokesperson Shaligram Sharma Poudel urged all concerned to follow and have followed the code which bars soliciting votes and carrying out election publicity by any means, process or method and posting or sharing on social networking sites, online, print or any other media of any message, information or publicity materials in support of or against a political party or candidate during this period. 

The tenure of 19 members of the National assembly is terminating on coming March 4. The law requires that election should be held to the seats falling vacant before one month of the termination of the term.

TU unveils academic calendar for current session

Kathmandu, Jan 22: The Tribhuvan University (TU) has unveiled the academic calendar for current academic session 2080 BS.

TU Examination Reform and Coordination Council released the academic calendar of four-year annual system and eight-semester system of Bachelor level and four-semester system of Master level.

 Member-Secretary of the Council and TU Examination Controller, Pushpa Raj Joshi, said Deans of the respective faculties and academic institutions sat together and prepared the academic calendar.

As per the annual system, first year exam will be conducted on second week of Bhadau, 2081, admission for second year on second week of Asoj 2081 and exam on second week of Asar, 2082.

Similarly, the time for admission for third year has been set for second week of Asar, 2082, exam on second week of Jeth, 2083, admission for fourth year on second week of Asar, 2083 and exam on second week of Baishakh, 2084.

Likewise, examination of first semester of Bachelor Level under the semester system will be conducted in Baishakh, 2081, second semester in Asoj, 2081, third semester in Chait, 2081 and fourth semester in Bhadau/Asoj of 2082.  

Examination of fifth semester has been determined for Chait, 2082, sixth semester in Asoj, 2083, seventh semester in Chait, 2083 and eighth semester in Asoj, 2084. Examination Controller Joshi said examination of first semester towards Master Level will be conducted in Asar, 2081, second semester in Magh, 2081, third semester in Asar, 2082 and fourth semester in Push, 2082. He mentioned that preparation has been made to publish results within 100 days of the examinations.

PM Dahal pledges to give priority to completion of significant projects

Kathmandu, Jan 22: Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ has pledged to accord due priorities to the completion of projects of national pride and other significant projects on time. As he said, upcoming policies and programmes and the budget will give sufficient priorities to such projects.

During his virtual inspection to the Sikta Irrigation Project and the Mahakali Irrigation Project (third phase) from an action room based in the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers today, the Prime Minister said this.

“The absence of substantive prioritization of annual budget has adversely affected the projects of nation pride and other important ones. The budgetary constraint issue has posed challenges for such projects to maintain quality and led to unsatisfactory physical and fiscal progress,” he said on the occasion. 

Such situation will result in the extended deadline of project and the rise in project cost and this issue must be addressed, according to the Prime Minister.  

He assured that the government will address policy and budgetary constraint issues in the implementation of the projects, directing project chiefs for effective deliveries.

            “The government is here to sort out policy and budget problems. You work effectively in the field, preventing the situation demanding the extension of projects’ deadlines and more financial responsibilities. Deliver considering these matters seriously time and again,” he directed project chiefs.

At the same programme, Minster for Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation, Shakti Bahadur Basent  said improvements in economy has eased the atmosphere to pay construction companies and  the physical and fiscal progress of projects will take a pace ahead. 

Accompanying the Prime Minister and the Energy Minister during the monitoring of the Action Room were Government Chief Secretary Dr Baikuntha Aryal, Ministry’s secretary towards water resources and irrigation Sushil Chandra Tiwari, and secretaries at the Office of the Prime Minister, Ek Narayan Aryal and Maniram Gelal, among other officials.

Project will make headway provided there is no dearth of resources

Chief of the Sikta Irrigation Project, Devraj Niraula, said the project has not been able to make an encouraging progress due to the limitation of the financial sources. He added that the project will make headway if there is no resource constraint.

Stating that the project brought with the objective of expanding irrigation in Banke district will irrigate 42,766 hectares land, the Project Chief Niraula said the financial progress of the project is 40 percent and sources have to be managed for providing compensation for the land acquired for the project.

Niraula further added that works are being carried out simultaneously in the eastern and western canals and the financial liability has been adding up as the project period prolongs. He shared that they are going to carry out the works by preparing a calendar to conclude the construction within the stipulated time.

According to him, towards the achievements of the project include the completion of the 317 metres long barrage along with the bridge, the completion of the 45.25-kilometre-long west main canal, completion of the construction of 37.675 ‘chainage’ of the eastern main canal and about 55 percent of the construction has been completed towards the western branches of the canal.

Niraula asserted that the construction of the project would be expedited in the coming days.


PM Cup Cricket: Madhesh defeats Sudurpaschim

Kathmandu, Jan 22: The Madhesh Province defeated Sudurpaschim Province by 80 runs in the match held today under the Prime Minister’s Cup Men’s One-Day National Cricket Tournament.

In the match held at TU cricket ground, batting first after winning the toss, Madhesh scored 319 runs at the loss of 9 wickets in the scheduled 50 overs. Mayan Yadav was the highest scorer for Madhesh, with 115 runs in 128 balls.

Similarly, Pawan Sarraf scored 70 runs in 63 balls while Anil Shah contributed 69 runs in 70 balls. Rupesh Singh scored 21 runs, Avishek Tiwari scored 16 and Harishankar Shah scored 14 runs.

For Sudurpaschim, Sher Malla took four wickets, Bikash Agri took two wickets and Narayan Joshi and Gajendra Bohra took one wicket each. Pursuing the victory target of 320 runs, Sudurpaschim was all out in 44.5 overs, with 239 runs. For Sudurpaschim, Naren Bhatt scored 121 runs off 122 balls while Narayan Joshi scored 26 runs and Kiran Thagunna scored 20 runs.

For Madhes, Rajesh Yadav and Pradeep Paswan took three wickets each while Ranjit Kumar took two wickets and captain Harishankar Shah and Pawan Saraf took one wicket each.

With today’s win, Madhes has so far collected eight points, to remain third in the points table. Similarly, Sudurpaschim is in the fourth place in the points table with six points.

PM Dahal calls for addressing health sectors’ problems in a package

Kathmandu, Jan 22 : Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ spoke of the need to address problems of the medical education sector including nursing in a package.

PM Dahal said so in a high-level meeting convened at the Office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers at Singha Durbar in Kathmandu earlier today. “When it comes to nursing sector, there is a situation that the jurisdiction of the nursing sector and CTEVT conflict. We should move ahead clearing them out,” he said.

He shared that the meeting of the Medical Education Commission would be convened at the earliest to resolve the issues prevailing the medical education and nursing sector.

The Head of the Government asserted, “We should reach a conclusion after comprehensive discussions to identify the problems in the medical education and nursing sector. Let’s convene the Commission’s meeting and form a Study Committee to delve properly on the issues. Let’s rope in the National Planning Commission in this.”

Furthermore, he viewed that the issues relating to the National Medical Education Act be addressed through amendment process. “We should not lag behind in implementing the provisions of the Act. Lets spring into action by preparing schedule based on the available resources,” he urged the participants of the meetings.

Participants of the meeting included Deputy Prime Ministers Purna Bahadur Khadka and Narayan Kaji Shrestha and Minister for Education, Science and Technology Ashok Kumar Rai.

Similarly, in attendance in the meeting were Chief Secretary Dr Baikuntha Aryal, Secretaries at the Office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and Registrar of Nepal Nursing Council Shukla Khanal among others.

TU providing benefits contrary to regulations: Parliamentary report

Kathmandu, Jan 22 : A study report presented to the National Assembly, Delegated Management and Government Assurance Committee states that the Tribhuvan University has been providing benefits without fully complying with the existing laws and regulations.

In today’s meeting of the committee, advocate Chakraman Bishwakarma presented the report stating that funds such as staff welfare fund, medical treatment support fund, etc. have been established putting a financial burden on the university. The report suggests to follow the Act and regulations to establish such funds.

Similarly, the report states that it was not lawful to make bi-regulations to determine the remuneration, terms and conditions of service, and benefits to the office-bearers of the University. It suggests formulating a new law since it has been 31 years since the TU Act, 2049, a new law should be introduced.

On the occasion, chairperson of the committee, Maya Prasad Sharma, said that the university should be clear about the formulation and implementation of the delegated legislation and that the higher education guaranteed by the Constitution should be made accessible and quality, and gradually made free.

It was stated that the committee would give completion to the study report after incorporating the suggestions of the committee members.

No alternative to unity in the party: Deuba

Parbat, Jan 22 : Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba has said that there is no option to maintaining unity within the party.

Addressing the second district conference of the Nepali Congress Parbat at Kushmabazar today, Deuba said that there is a need for reconciliation between the leaders and workers of the Congress and that the party will be strong only if the leaders and workers are united.

Stating that the Nepali Congress has become the leading political force of the country after great sacrifices, Deuba said that no power can defeat a united Congress party. Deuba said that it would be difficult for everyone in a big party to get leadership at the same time, but those who are continuously involved should not be deprived of opportunities.

The NC president stated that it was under the leadership the Congress party that an inclusive proportional system and a democratic system was established in Nepal,  which, he said, has ensured representation of the indigenous peoples and the people with disabilities.

He also said that there is no option of an alliance for the time being, which should be continued to address the problems facing the country.

Also speaking at the programme, NC leader Shashank Koirala emphasized that the current government should be able to guarantee good governance to the people. He said that the party will become stronger only if the people can feel relieved by removing corruption and inflation in the country.

Central member Chandra Bhandari said that one should not work to weaken the party for not getting an opportunity in the party. Chief Minister of Gandaki Surendra Raj Pandey, Congress central member Arjun Prasad Joshi, Kiran Paudel, Sharada Paudel, Urmila Thapalia and others spoke on the occasion.

PM directs officials to immediately provide driving license to service-seekers 

Kathmandu, Jan 22: Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ has directed the authorities to immediately provide driving license to the service-seekers, who are waiting for their turn since long.

During a joint meeting with the officials working on distribution of driving license card, national identity card and passport, the PM directed the officials to instantly distribute driving license to 1.4 million applicants seeking for their driving license.

Saying that failing to get the driving license even after passing the examination for driving license is a serious issue, the PM also cautioned the Department of Transport Management to ensure distribution of driving license. “Information technology is crucial in the current time, we have to give result based on integrated technology. For this, coordination among the state’s mechanisms is needed,” according to PM Prachanda.

On the occasion, the PM reminded the officials about his commitment to end the long queues in the government offices. The PM also asked the officials to increase their offices’ efficiency and pay serious attention to ensuring quality service.

Likewise, the PM urged the officials to seriously think about developing our own source code. “We have the context to invite foreigners even to resolve minor technical issues. We cannot change everything overnight but we can gradually change while working in a planned way,” the PM said asking the officials to produce skilled human resources on our own.

During the meeting, Deputy Prime Ministers Purna Bahadur Khadka and Narayan Kaji Shrestha, Foreign Minister NP Saud, Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Prakash Jwala, chief secretary Dr Baikuntha Aryal, Home Secretary Dinesh Bhattarai, Physical Infrastructure Secretary Keshav Kumar Sharma and chiefs of concerned Department were present.

Parliamentarians’ outcry over Health Minister’s absence in parliamentary committee meeting

Kathmandu, January 22: Parliamentarians have urged the Minister for Health and Population and his office to be sensitive towards their responsibilities.

In the meeting of Education, Health and Information Technology Committee under the House of Representatives here on Monday, Committee chair Bhanubhakta Joshi raised questions about the decisions made by the officials of the Ministry of Health and Population.

Stating that the decisions made by the Ministry were courting controversies repeatedly, Joshi along with members of the committee expressed their displeasure over the absence of Minister for Health and Population, Mohan Bahadur Basnet, in the meeting.

The meeting ought to deliberate and review the half-yearly progress of the Ministry’s programmes, details of the capital expenditure and efforts to resolve grievances regarding the Ministry.

Committee Chair Joshi said repeated efforts to establish contact with Minister Basnet but to no avail. He further shared that two specialists doctors were sent to his constituency in Bajhang district after a lot of requests but much to the dismay, the Health Minister called back them.

Stating that the Committee’s plenary meeting will be held only in the presence of the Health Minister, he directed the Ministry to present its progress report to the Committee. Similarly, committee member Bidhya Bhattarai drew the attention of secretaries in the Ministry, Dr Roshan Pokharel and Dev Kumari Guragain, towards the Ministry not implementing suggestions and instructions of the Committee.

“We furnished 12 suggestions and instructions to the Ministry. How much could it implement? How long shall we keep raising questions?’ she asked.Likewise, another member Dr Toshima Karki demanded clarification regarding the accusations and grievances against Minister Basnet. “The Minister was absent in the meeting. He was not present even though he was asked to furnish clarification to the Committee over allegations against his performance,” she said.

Secretary Dr Pokharel explained that Minister Basnet could not attend the meeting owing to his busy schedule. He admitted that there was practical difficulty in implementing the Ministry’s programmes without ensuring adequate budget allocation.

Parliamentarians had asked queries about Ministry’s efforts towards establishment of Basic Hospital and ensuring dialysis services for kidney patients, fee for health insurance, addressing human resources crunch in health sector, decentralizing healthcare services and efforts to discourage infanticide and suicide.

They also posed questions about the foreign visits of the Minister and the Ministry’s staffs.

MoFAGA requests local levels to provide details of internal employment

Kathmandu, January 22: The Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration has requested all local levels to provide details of internal employment.

Issuing a notice on Monday, the Ministry requested the local levels to provide the details of the projects and programs related to job creation implemented in the previous financial year. The details are to be provided within seven days.

The MoFAGA has sought details from the local level to establish legal and policy framework to conduct ‘Domestic Employment Promotion Decade’ campaign from fiscal year 2081/82, make domestic employment promotion agencies fully accountable and expand employment-related activities in an integrated manner, for the delivery of integrated labour and employment services from employment service centers under the local level.

Economy is returning to normalcy: Minister Mahat

Bara, Jan 22 : Minister for Finance Dr Prakash Sharan Mahat has said that the national economy was gradually returning to normalcy.

Inaugurating the new building of Mahagadhimai municipality in Bara on Monday, Minister Mahat said that the country’s economy was deteriorating when he assumed his office but it was recovering at present. 

On a different note, Mahat assured that he will hold talks with the officials of both Nepal and India regarding opening some of the checkpoints in Bara district bordering Nepal and India.

Stating that efforts to attract investment for Nijgadh Airport were accelerated, the Minister urged everyone not to doubt the construction of the Airport.

Informing that the Sunkoshi Marine Diversion Multipurpose Project was in the last phase, he expressed his belief that completion of the project would facilitate irrigation in many districts in Madhesh region.

Present in the programme presided by Mahagadhimai municipality mayor, Upendra Yadav, were Nepali Congress’s central member Ajay Chaurasia, Nepali Congress’s Madhesh Province’s Vice-President Chandra Shekhar Kumar Yadav and parliamentarians among others who aired  their respective views.

Meanwhile, Minister Mahat inspected Choti Bhansar, a custom office at Simraungadh in the district and pledged to open the custom point at the earliest.

He also inspected Sanphulawa checkpoint in Swarna rural municipality in the district on Monday itself.

‘More FDI needed in country’

Kathmandu, Jan 22 : Stakeholders have pointed out that Nepal still has to develop the welcoming culture for investors and investment since the foreign direct investment (FDI) was inevitable to fill the infrastructure gaps in Nepal.

At a programme organized by US Education Foundation Nepal on potential and challenges for investment environment in Nepal, the speakers argued that Nepal has failed to pay attention about the investors’ will.

They also pointed out that legal and administrative hassles, profit assurance, guarantee of returns, availability of feasible projects for FDI, access to market for goods and services, and others were the key challenges for bringing in FDI in Nepal.

On the occasion, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Investment Board of Nepal Sushil Bhatta said that we don’t have projects to showcase for the investors adding that facilitation on the part of Nepal to create enabling environment for investment is still insufficient. “We have challenges in the prefeasibility study of the projects. The consulting firms are not efficient,” he regretted.  

Bhatta stated that preparations are ongoing to sign some major projects in the upcoming Third International Investment Conference to be held on April 21 and 22 in Kathmandu. “Investment Summit is a journey not a destination. Investment does not mean only in the infrastructure sector. There is immense potential for investment in service sector, high value manufacturing industries, IT sector,” Bhatta said. 

Former CEO of IBN Radhes Pant called for responsibility and accountability to bring in more FDI. Likewise, Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies Baburam Gautam said the private sector also should play role to create positive environment for welcoming FDI in Nepal.

KMC to prohibit roadside parking in New Road area

Kathmandu, January 22: Kathmandu Municipal Corporation (KMC) is going to ban vehicle parking on blacktopped roads in New Road area from Tuesday.

As an alternative to the current parking facility, the KMC has said that it will provide free parking facilities at Kathmandu Tower. Chief of KMC Municipal Police Rajunath Pandey shared that 300 four-wheelers and 700 two-wheelers can be parked at Kathmandu Tower. The new provision is expected to ease traffic in the area.

He said that parking will be prohibited on blacktopped roads in and around Dharmapath, Indrachowk, Khichapokhari, Mahabouddha, and around Bir Hospital. Earlier, a similar prohibition in vehicle parking was imposed by the KMC in Jhonche area.

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