Lumbini, Oct 8 (RSS): A two-thirds majority of the State Assembly has decided the name and the permanent capital of State no 5. Now the state would be called Lumbini State and its permanent capital would be in Rapti Valley (Deukhuri). The citizens of Lumbini state have now got their common identity with the naming of the state and determination of its capital.
Deukhuri Valley incorporates Rapti and Gadhawa rural municipalities of Dang and the Rapti river basin areas of Sheetaganga municipality of Arghakhanchi district. The government’s argument is that the capital represented the mentality of the people of the 12 districts in the State.
The Chief Minister Shanker Pokhrel had from the very beginning been raising the topic of naming a ‘virgin land’ as the permanent capital in deference to the aspirations and common psychology of the people after carrying out good deal of study since the capital of the state is not an ordinary topic. Accordingly, the State Assembly has decided on the name of the State and its permanent capital.
Lumbini State RSS coordinator Bharat KC and reporter Neera Gautam interviewed Chief Minister Pokhrel in this context and about how the state government plans to develop the capital and its conceptualisation.
Background to deciding state capital
To the question that although the state assembly finalized by two-thirds majority votes the name and the permanent capital of the state after two and half years of the formation of the state government, the decision could not be without dispute, Chief Minister Pokhrel said : “Actually, we should have decided this long back. It was a difficult topic to decide, especially after considering the three zonal mindset of the past, the aspiration for the state’s capital and addressing and hearing the demands put forth by various ethnic groups.”
He added that considering the situation the state government formed a special committee to decide on the issue. The members on the special committee from the Lumbini region were sent to the Rapti area and those members from the Rapti Bheri area were deputed to Lumbini area for collecting the public opinion on the matter. According to him, this was an attempt on the part of the state government to know about the opinion of the people of the two regions so that it would help in preparing a common viewpoint.
Moreover, Chief Minister Pokhrel said that they even formed an experts’ group and asked it to study what would be appropriate thing to do within the entire State-5 reconing that politicians might be influenced by their respective prejudices. He reiterated that the capital was selected based on the places indicated in the two reports that were submitted by the two committees.
“The issue of naming was not such a complex because being an internationally-established name it could be easily convinced. Regarding the permanent capital, we have said to incorporate the land areas of three local levels in Rapti valley that include the riverbank area at Rapti and Gadhawa rural municipalities in Dang and Shitganga Municipality in Arghakhanchi. This is called Deukhuri in general term. We have not fixed to a certain location,” Pokhrel argued.
Regarding the geographical complexities and its management, Pokhrel pledged to develop road network from the capital of the state, which he said will bring all other sites within the state close.
The capital is the main door for Rolpa and Pyuthan and the people of Rukum East also should not travel via Salyan-Dang if we ensure road connectivity there. So, the road network will determine many things, he stated.
He was of the argument that the capital of the state will stand as the hub to connect all the districts of the then Rapti zone.
Likewise, sharing his views on infrastructure development for the capital city of the state, he said that study for the need has already been initiated. “The total land needed for that will be determined after the completion of study. Our idea is to develop a plan for the entire settlement.” We plan to manage the existing settlements as well so that there will be no unplanned settlement, he said while promising to develop a master plan within a year.
After the establishment of the state’s capital city, Rapti valley developed as a beautiful and organized city and the state government will move ahead in a planned manner for the development.
We will not build physical structures for state only rather the sites will be allocated for private sector and business sector as well. “This is not going to happen overnight. We can gift a beautiful city to the people of the state at least in 20 years,” the Chief Minister added.
Responding a query regarding dissatisfaction of Nepali Congress over not making the report of special committee public, Chief Minister Pokhrel argued that first of all the state assembly members of the NC have forgot the conclusion of the special committee and added that the last part of the conclusion of the report has mentioned that the state government should brought appropriate proposal.
He further said, “Enough discussion was held with all personally in a formal manner. I made a plan to visit the central president of the opposition party taking the leaders of the opposition party. They failed to manage time. We met the chief whip and requested him for the consensus and he refused saying there is no right to party leader for the discussion. So we presented the proposal at the State Assembly for the discussion. We finalized the matter in a friendly environment in the second day.”
The Chief Minister further said that they held enough discussion and consultation in the party and understood the view of majority members, adding that Butwal-Bhairahawa corridor is the important corridor after Kathmandu Valley.
He opined that they came up with an idea it could be developed as the financial capital in future.
CM Pokhrel, “We have already said that we will develop Butwal-Bhairahawa as a metropolis. We brought it for the discussion which was naturally taken in a positive way by state assembly members.”
Saying they also held discussion where the centre of state 5 could be made keeping Lumbini in the centre, he shared inflow of tourists would be increased remarkably in Lumbini after the construction of Gautam Buddha International Airport.
He expressed the view that they talked about potential of tourism capital by focusing on the development of tourism sector by connecting Tilaurakot and Rangram in terms of connecting these tourism sites with economic activities.
Butwal and Bhairahawa to be made financial capital
Responding the query regarding the financial and touristic capital, CM Pokharel clarified that on the one hand, it was decided by the Council of Ministers and on the other hand, all infrastructures would not be replaced to permanent capital therefore, financial activities would be continued in Butwal and Bhariahawa.
Similarly, on other question of when the state capital would be shifting, CM Pokharel argued that they were not for immediately shifting the capital as it takes time because it was going to be developed in virgin land. The State government is planning to develop a new city therefore it takes time.
Chief Minister Pokharel shared that there was rumour created that the capital is being shifted soon and Butwal will go to shadow but it was just a just assumption adding that the historical and financially sound city Butwal will have no effect either having state capital or not.
Pokhara-Butwal highway is being upgraded and East-West Railway is being constructed here just shifting state administration will do no effect here.
Similarly, responding to the query on the proposed capital is a bottle neck and bio- high way, CM Pokharel clarified that it was decided following the suggestions from the experts and it is an ordinary place having several settlements therefore no such effect will be seen there. However, the state government is planning to develop the river bank as new and smart city.
Responding the query on his feelings on new decisions, chief minister Pokharel said they completed historical duty ensuring a common identity to all state dwellers. As a Lumbini Zone of only six-districts has been made a common identity of all State dwellers with state’s name where people from 12 districts are happy with the decision. All will feel ownership on the decisions gradually.