Saturday, 29 January 2011

I love visiting new places where I get chances to think about my life, my country, my nature, my society and my future. I am easily touched by the silence and natural beauty of rural setting. I cannot describe the things that I like most. I would love them to be present in front of me.So I often capture images in my tiny camera. Following pictures were taken during the creative writing workshop and conference on 4-9 October in Dhulikhel. 

Solitary Paddy Field in Dhulikhel.

The Sun Rise from Palanchok Bhagawati
Beautiful Dhulikhel Landscape

Members of Creative Writing Group (Asian English Teachers) in Dhulikhel

Melamchi Dream? (It's DRAFT, I will edit the post when I will have a time to rework on this)

Last week was a wonderful week to observe the nation’s famous ongoing project – Melamchi Drinking Water Project. Leaving the monotony of Kathmandu, I had an adventurous trip to the Melamchi. As suggested by fellows, I started my journey around 4 p.m. from Kathmandu on my motorbike. I thank to the Melamchi project which has constructed fine road (although not so wide) and bridges on several streams. I enjoyed the natural scenic beauty along the road.  But my misery started when I reached Kodari Bheer (Kodri Cliff). Big trucks which run with heavy load of sand and stones from the crusher factory on the bank of the Indrawati River had covered the narrow, muddy and steep road. It was dark that I could not see how dangerous the road was. I was too much worried about how to go through the muddy road as it was so difficult to hold the motorbike on the steep road. I forgot how many times I fell off the motorbike. My shoes, jacket and the motorbike had already lost their originality as they were covered with mud. The nastiest thing that I experienced there was inhumanity of the truck drivers. Although I fell off the motorbike due to the obstruction of trucks, the drivers never stopped to help me. I had no other option than to follow the narrow deep track of trucks.
After crossing the Kodari Cliff, I followed another motorbike until I reached the Melamchi Drinking Water Project office. My backbone was already aching due to bumping of the motorbike caused by pits on the road. I had never imagined such a bad condition of the road. Based on the media report and big talks of government, I had thought that the road is already in a better condition to accomplish the project. With tiredness I reached the Melamchi bazzar around 8 p.m. where I stayed at Melamchi Guest house. In the morning, I visited Indrawati Multiple Campus which is situated at the beautiful landscape of the Melamchi Taar from where I could view and enjoy attractive glowing panorama of the Jugal Himal.
It was around 9 a.m. I drove my motorbike towards the Melamchi River to observe progress of the project. I was so curious to know whether fresh Melamchi water will come to satisfy the thirst of Kathmaduties. With three other local friends (Laya, Lekhnath and Yadav), I arrived at the proposed reservoir for the project. I was shocked by seeing nominal progress of the project which I had heard when I was a child. I had thought that it will be accomplished very soon. But when I reached there I immediately realized that I would be so lucky if the Melamchi water could be brought Kathmandu before I die. Very rough track of the road has just been constructed up to the main point of the river. A dozer has been kept standby and a small shelter has been constructed. Some Chinese workers and technicians seem to be busy with metal works. I tried to speak with them in English but they did not understand me.
I was so excited to see fresh water there between two giant rocky cliffs. The beauty of water fall producing a rainbow at its bottom was so impressive. The natural landscape was so appealing that I was spellbound seeing rocky hills and fresh icy cold water. The beehives on rocky cliffs reminded me the story of the honey hunter. The watermills which have been run along the bank of the Melamchi River were other sources of attraction. Trout fish which are more expensive than other types of fish are also major source of income. Moreover, the establishment of resort with rock-climbing can become another source of income if the local people can create favorable atmosphere to invite investors in Melamchi.  
I had got an opportunity to talk with local people about the delay of the project. Most of them contented that due to lack of consensus among political parties, many times, the project has been halted. They also blamed that the project has become a place for recruiting the cadres of political parties. Moreover, they were not satisfied with the attitudes of the local people as they have been demanding a huge amount of money as a compensation for their land. It was so ridiculous to know that they have also been demanding to employ on one-person-one-home basis. Of course, this is reasonable that the project should give priority to the local people but unnecessary demands may not help to its accomplishment. I think that the local people should also think about how the project can contribute to the development of overall community rather than fulfilling personal desires.
I could easily see that the road constructed by the project is an important infrastructure for the development of the community. The local people should also understand the value of the huge amount of money invested for the road construction and how it has made transportation of the people from Helambu and other rural parts of the Sindhupalchowk possible. As mentioned above, the local people can make use of the road to run resorts and attract tourists with a long-term plan to generate the economy and help to the sustainable development of community.
One ridiculous point that the local people shared with me was that the Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal inaugurated the construction of tunnel in Sundarijal but not in Melamchi. Some local people seemed to be so furious with such a behavior of the government. They said that the government did not pay attention to the development of rural areas rather it became only Kathmandu-centric. This fury made me realize that the local people have been making many demands as they have felt that the project is beneficial only for Kathmandu but not for their community. Moreover, they are also worried about what quantity of water will be left in the river because without water in the river the survival of family running watermills and fishery is not possible.
There are some significant implications we can draw from this experience. First, without support from the local people the developmental projects never become successful. For this, there should a thorough discussion with the local people by ensuring the active participation of the community in the project. Second, rather than providing a compensation for the land, the government should make a policy to work jointly with the community. For this, the government should make a clear provision on how the community can be benefitted from its project rather than providing the compensation on individual basis.  Third, there should be no political intervention in all developmental projects. It has been observed that the cadres of political parties are becoming a major hindrance to run different developmental projects in Nepal. They have been demanding a huge amount of money as a donation and asking for employment.
Similarly, I felt that all developmental projects should have a realistic plan. There is no certainty of when the Melamchi project will be completed. The Melamchi River may go dry before the completion of the expensive project as we all know that snow on mountains is melting due to global warming. This will of course be a tragic failure of the government and the dream of Kathmanduites to drink fresh water of Melamchi will never come true.