Energy crisis major setback for urban development

09/30/2016

Kathmandu, Sept. 30:Experts have raised concerns about inadequate infrastructures and amenities in sprawling urban areas.

Speaking at a talk programme on ‘Urban challenges and the role of private sector in Nepal’, they said that the new urban areas should be developed in a planned manner and should be equipped with the modern facilities.

The urban population makes up 42 per cent of the total population after government announced new municipalities in the last couple of years. The country has 217 municipalities now.

But, they can generate only 27 per cent revenue for their total expenditure.

Executive member of the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) Kishor Thapa, who is also former secretary of the Urban Development Ministry, said, “All the municipalities are facing problems of low revenue, absence of resources and poor capacity.

They don’t have land use and management policy. Severe energy crisis has dealt another setback to the urban development.”

According to Thapa, cities are the centre for civilisation, development and political affairs.

Experts said that the absence of elected local bodies was another setback to the recently developed urban centres.

“We are facing unplanned and unregulated urban growth,” said Thapa.

Former vice-chairman of the National Planning Commission and president of Nepal Institute for Urban and Regional Studies (NIURS) Dr. Jagadish Chandra Pokharel said that urbanisation was a force for growth through social and economic transformation.

“The government’s decision to develop 10 modern cities along the Mid-Hill Highway will create opportunities for engineers, architects and planners,” he said.

He stated that the urban planning should be focused on managing the space as the open spaces had been rapidly shrunk in cities.

Chair of Urban Development Committee at the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) Om Rajbhandary demanded that the country should devise an urban development policy at the earliest.

“Even the capital and other sub-metropolitan cities lack basic facilities such as drinking water, sanitation and good environment,” he said.

He said that the private sector was supporting people in the cities with drinking water, entertainment, health and sanitation facilities.

According to Rajbhandary, increasing urban areas provide good opportunities for the investors as there were demands for rental housing and other infrastructure where the private sector had an important role to play.

Former planner Suresh Prakash Acharya said that although the banks and financial institutions provide financing for the investment in the cities, they should not accept property that is at risk as collateral.

The talk programme was jointly organised by the FNCCI and NIURS.

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