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‘We are committed to making Kapurkot Rural Municipality a well-governed local government:’ Durga Bahadur Pun, Chairperson 

‘There always is a space for more work to do but, comparatively, we have done better work than before.’

Kathmandu: Durga Bahadur Pun is the Chairperson of Kapurkot Rural Municipality in Salyan. He entered politics through student organization. In the past, he worked in various national as well as international development organizations for 18 years, during which he trained people’s representatives and office heads of the district in areas such as planning process, implementation and governance.

Pun is now using his previous experiences to bring changes in the rural municipality he leads. He says he has left no stone unturned to make his municipality well-governed. Ram kumar Shahi of The DMN News recently talked to Pun. Excerpts: 

It has been two years since you led the local government for the first time. How has your experience been so far?
The progress we have made over the past two years looks promising. Though there is always room for improvement, our overall direction is right. We are working at the right pace towards fulfilling the commitments we made during the election and achieving the dreams we had back then. 

We are currently following the plan we envisioned in areas such as electricity expansion, construction of safe housing, and providing drinking water. More importantly, we are committed to making Kapurkot Rural Municipality a well-governed local body. I believe we have succeeded on this front to a large extent.

In your opinion, what should be done to address people’s aspirations? 

First thing I would like to mention is the availability of people’s representatives during the difficult times to address the problems of citizens. Another key aspect is providing services to citizens without hassles. People become happy when public service delivery is effective. 

We have started delivering services keeping these aspects in mind. Previously, there were no birthing centers in any of the wards of our municipality. After we were elected, we built birthing centers in all wards.

We started conducting health check-ups for every senior citizen at their doorsteps every two months. Previously, it was mandatory to go to the district headquarters to collect the social security allowance. We made arrangements for citizens to receive their social security allowance from ward offices. 

We have also adopted a participatory approach in prioritization  and selection of projects at local level. Planning of projects is carried out at the ward level. Citizens have felt some changes through such services. Such activities have developed a strong bond between the municipality and the citizens. 

It is not easy to provide services at the community level. It has its own set of drawbacks. What are the challenges felt by the rural municipality while delivering services as per the people’s aspirations? 

People hope to get administrative services easily in their respective wards or municipalities. Since local governments are referred to as the “Singha Durbar” of the villages, their expectation for large-scale development projects and increased services has grown after the implementation of the federal system.

However, we only have limited resources available. Not everyone understands that our resources are limited. Therefore, we are unable to provide all the services people need with the limited resources we have. This can sometimes lead to disappointment among the people. There might be complaints such as: ‘There is no road in front of my house.’ ‘My neighborhood is not connected with the road.’ ‘We couldn’t get water right in our yard.’ Sometimes, there can be a mismatch between the people’s expectations and our working methods.  Thus there always is a space for more work to do. But comparatively, we have done better work than before, and if we can explain to the people the budget and resources limitations, then there will be no room for complaints.                                                            

What are the plans you put forward after being elected the chair of Kapurkot Rural Municipality? How hopeful are you on the proper implementation of those plans?

We made several commitments and plans for the five year term. One of them was to make Kapurkot free from darkness, meaning we aimed to have a proper supply of electricity for every household. Similarly, we had promised good governance, ensuring our people that citizens do not have to face hassles and biases while getting services. We also pledged to prevent any partiality. Apart from that, we aimed to undertake various creative works that are directly connected to the people. As we approach the end of the second year, we are satisfied with some of our achievements. When I took office, about 45-50 percent of households had electricity supply. Now, nearly 85 percent of households have proper electricity supply. We had a plan to provide electricity to every household within this fiscal year, but were unable to meet the target. This target will be met in the next fiscal year.

‘Providing services to people is a key job of a local government. People become happy when public service delivery is effective.’

Another commitment was to make Kapurkot free from thatched roofs. This year alone, we expanded this campaign to 200 households. Within the next two years, we will eliminate thatched  roofs from all houses.

Kapurkot Rural Municipality has a high rate of child marriages. To reduce this, we have launched a dedicated campaign. We have raised issues against child marriage everywhere. A notable practice we have implemented is a system where any couple must obtain an approval from the ward offices before getting married. This year alone, we have denied 17 couples from getting married  after finding that their supporting documents did not show them to be of legal age. In such cases, we explain to them the problems that can arise from marrying at a young age and advise them to come back once they are of legal age. They have been convinced by our reasoning. Our campaign has been replicated by many other local levels in Karnali.

CDO of Salyan taking ‘guest class’.

In the education sector, we have introduced the concept of “Guest Classes” in schools since last year. This concept aims to provide knowledge and skills beyond the regular curriculum to students above grade eight. We initiated these classes to help guide students in determining their future paths or goals. For this, we have prepared a roster of experts from various fields who conduct the classes. We bring successful local farmers, bureaucrats, district judges, police and army officers, among others to take guest classes for students. We run these classes at one school per week. We have also started classes to teach skills alongside regular studies. For instance, we offer training in carpentry, masonry, house wiring, and plumbing. These initiatives have been successful, and it gives me joy that I am able to deliver after being elected as the chair. Till now, people have not complained about our work, or have questioned us. We take pride in that.