By The Asia News Network
Prithvi Man Shrestha
Nepal sought China’s support for an integrated development, including resettlement of scattered population in the Himalayan region, during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Nepal last weekend.
But the government’s preparations on the ground toward an integrated development of the region which is backward in terms of human development and infrastructure connectivity is next to nothing, admit the Nepal government officials.
“No detailed plan has been prepared so far, though we have been holding discussions on how to relocate the scattered population to a single location and deliver infrastructure and other government facilities to them,” said Puspa Raj Kandel, vice-chairman of the National Planning Commission.
According to Kandel, there is a need for such an approach as the settlements in the region are becoming thinner due to migration of people to the hill and Tarai regions.
“As per our envisioning, resettlement will not happen in the entire mountain region, but only in the areas where there is extremely scattered population,” he added.
According to the Population Census 2011, only 1.7 million people were residing in the mountain region out of 26.49 million people in the country.
Despite plans to resettle population, the government has not yet identified the areas with scattered population, where they should be resettled and how it should be done.
The Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration said that it was currently preparing a guideline on how to go ahead with the integrated development of the region.
“The guideline which we are drafting will provide a roadmap for the purpose,” said Yadav Raj Koirala, secretary at the ministry. “We have aimed to have the guideline within one and a half months.”
According to the Human Development Report 2014, the mountain region lags behind both Hills and Tarai in human development. According to the report, the mountain region has the lowest human development index (HDI) value at 0.440 followed by 0.468 in the Tarai and 0.520 in the Hills.
Considering the cost and the efforts required to deliver government services to the scattered population in the mountainous region, the government has envisioned developing the region in an integrated way by resettling scattered population to a single location and providing various facilities and infrastructure in an integrated way.
The government has allocated Rs1 billion for implementing the Northern Region Infrastructure Development and Livelihoods Improvement Programme aimed at infrastructure development and livelihoods improvement in the current fiscal year.
“Under the programme, local governments are supported to initiate integrated development plans,” said Kandel of the National Planning Commission.
The government officials said they plan to resettle the scattered population, run employment-generation programme, and build schools and health posts as part of an integrated development modality.
With the government preparing plans for integrated development in the region, it wants to learn from China on the issue.
“Considering China’s experiences of fast-tracking rapid development in mountainous Tibet and other regions, cooperation was sought from China,” Kandel added.