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Editorial: Lion Palace’s federal challenges

Editorial: Lion Palace’s federal challenges
The basic idea behind Nepal’s switch to federalism was to take the government to the people’s very doorsteps. But federalism also comes with bills attached, in terms of money and several other thorny issues. One can of course argue that decentralization can be a low-cost alternative to federalism in a medium-sized country like Nepal, making way for heated and (perhaps) never-ending discussions on the topic. But the country is unlikely to take a back-gear and hurtle toward decentralization, at least not in the immediate future. So, making federalism work will be the foremost challenge for our ruling elites. A feature of federalism is increased instances of conflict between different tiers of government. This of course does not mean the center has the license to ride roughshod against the will of local communities in their localities under the unitary system. Such a conflict can be over rights, responsibilities, natural resources and revenue sharing, among others. That feature is in full glare on the issue of waste management in the Kathmandu Valley, with the Kathmandu Metropolitan City refusing to collect waste from nerve centers of the federal government for a few days after Singha Durbar’s indifference toward its concerns. As if this row were not enough, Kakani rural municipality (Nuwakot district) and Dhuniveshi municipality (Dhading) have issued a 15-day ultimatum to concerned authorities to fulfill agreements reached earlier, warning that they won’t allow waste disposal at the landfill sites of Banchare Danda and Sisdole otherwise.

Add to it increasing tensions in the province after the renaming of Province 1 as Koshi Province. In a province or other subordinate levels, different sections of populations can have different sets of interests, expectations and ambitions. Addressing all these concerns is not easy, to say the least. But the onus is on the center to maintain amity.

As provincial and local governments grow more and more aware of the importance of local as well as inter-state resources like forests, mountains, rivers and streams for their survival and prosperity, instances of conflict between different tiers of government are likely to increase. But Singha Durbar (the Lion Palace) presiding over a young federal secular republic does not seem much aware of the challenges that lie ahead on the path of federalism. The Lion Palace should realize that the party time is long over. It should muster strength, show more compassion and govern rather than rule by learning lessons from the immediate neighborhood and beyond. After all, the onus is on this very place to make sure that things do not fall apart in a shaky republic.