Nepali Times

Combat gauze missing

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015
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From the Nepali Press

Santosh Pokharel in Nagarik, 29 June

A consignment of life-saving combat gauzes donated by an American drug company for treatment of people wounded by Nepal’s earthquakes has gone missing. No one knows whether the consignment was misplaced or stolen, which could have probably saved many lives after the Nepal earthquakes.

Z-Medica, manufacturer of QuickClot Combat Gauze, had couriered 2,750 packets of these first-aid kits to Nepal. And these materials were meant to be distributed by Nepal Share, a Kathmandu-based NGO, to all hospitals in the earthquake-affected districts. Mohan Pahari, who previously worked for Z-Medica, had requested the company for these first-aid kits, which are now widely used by US troops to stop bleeding from wounds and cuts.

“I got a call from Nepal Airlines cargo to receive the delivery, but when I went to the airport, the shipment was missing,” Pahari says.

Kamal Gyawali from the cargo department of Nepal Airlines says, “We searched for the delivery in every possible place, but we didn’t find it. We are not sure if it went missing after being delivered to Nepal or it did not arrive here at all.”

Max Khatri, President of Nepal Share, QuickClot combat gauzes were precious first-aid kits and could have been helpful to save lives of people wounded by the earthquakes and landslides. “We lost a precious gift due to someone’s negligence,” he says. “Nepal Airlines must find out the guilty.”

 

 


Constitution draft tabled

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015
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gupThe much-awaited new constitution’s first draft has been tabled in the Constituent Assembly (CA). The CA’s Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) President Krishna Sitaula handed over the draft to the CA Chair Subhas Nembang in Tuesday’s delayed session.

Some fringe parties – mainly the Hindu-Royalist RPP-Nepal, Federal Socialist Forum Nepal, Tarai Madhes Democratic Party and Sadbhavana Party – have disowned the constitution’s preliminary draft prepared on the basis of a 16-point agreement signed by the ruling NC-UML and the opposition UCPN (Maoist)-MJF (Democratic).

As soon as Sitaula presented the draft, some disgruntled CA members tore it and walked out of the CA hall. They say the new constitution’s draft is ‘regressive’ and is unable to ensure rights of marginalised communities like Madhesi, Dalit, Janjatis and women.

CA members representing RPP-N did not tear down the draft but chanted slogans against it. They have demanded a referendum before turning Nepal into a secular nation in the constitution.

NC leader Pradip Gyawali also objected to some provisions and walked out of the CA hall when he was asked by Nembang to sit down.

The new constitution divides Nepal into eight federal provinces on the basis of identity and viability and has provisions for Constitutional Court. But boundaries and names of federal provinces are subject to yet-to-be-formed Federal Commission and Federal Provinces respectively.

 

 

 


Farmer nurse

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015
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11696798_10153425339607500_1585415397_nFrom the Nepali Press

Sajana Baral in Himal Khabarpatrika, 28 June-4July

After working as a health professional at Nepalganj Medical College, Revata Rai from Bhojpur went to London where she studied Nursing in Health and Social Care at Thames College. Upon completing her degree, Rai worked with dementia patients for five years.

Her dream was to open a dementia research centre in Nepal on her return in 2011. But things didn’t go as planned. Despite her passion Rai couldn’t find any investors to fund the project.

The 42-year old then turned to animal farming.

“Many people questioned my career choice. Why do you have to raise cattle when you have a nursing degree they asked,” says Rai.

But Rai knew what she was doing. She had seen how effective farm houses were in treatment of dementia patients. In countries like Japan and the Netherlands there are model villages being opened especially for dementia patients.

“With the income collected from the farm, I hope to open a treatment facility with international standards for dementia patients,” says Rai who has seen how badly they are treated here.

Majority of elderlies who suffer from dementia lose their learning ability and start behaving like children. Instead of being given proper treatment, doctors and relatives in Kathmandu Rai notes give dementia patients sleeping pills and lock them up in their rooms.

Rai’s farm in Bhaktapur’s Bode is spread over 3 ropanis. At present she makes Rs 1200 to Rs 2000 daily selling eggs.

 

 


From Iceland with love

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015
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Anil Thapa of the Nordic High Performance Computing centre in Reykjavik hands over blankets to a villager in Buldang in northern Dhading.

When the earthquake struck Nepal in April, the faculty and students of the University of Iceland in Reykjavik immediately empathised. The mid-Atlantic Nordic island nation is no stranger to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, the latest in 2010 of Eyjafjallajökull  caused widespread destruction and also disruption of flights all over Europe.

Led by Nepali computer engineer Anil Thapa (pic, right) who is Team Leader of the Nordic High Performance Computing centre in Reykjavik, volcanologists, geophysicists, researchers, lecturers, professors and staff at the university immediately started a fund-raising drive called Earthquake Victims Support for Nepal.

Thapa, who has been an active fund-raiser for the Help Nepal Network (HeNN) took a part of his summer leave and with the money raised bought tin sheets, food and other relief items in Kathmandu and took them to his native district. While researching the relief so far, he found that the remote villages of northern Dhading had not received any help. So he set off for Sertung and Borlang below Ganesh Himal.

“We didn’t know what we were getting into,” Thapa recalls of the trip last month. “It was an extremely rough 45km road from Dhading Besi and it took us two days to reach Borlang, with a six hours drive on a very rough road and another seven hours trek past dangerous landslides.”

Nine people had died in Borlang, yet 50 villagers carried the 300 tin sheets, 100 tents, 100 blankets, sleeping mats and medical supplies to the village. Thapa was helped by a group of young volunteers from Kathmandu who rebuilt classrooms of the local school, two community toilets and 10 temporary shelters for villagers.

Two school children in the village were killed, the health post was destroyed, and needs to be rebuilt and staffed with a health assistant. Nepali Times caught up with Thapa before he flew back to Iceland, and he said: “We were a drop in the ocean, the need is great, but I am happy to have at least done something for my motherland from so far away.”

evsn.org

 


Man in a hurry

Monday, June 29th, 2015
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From the Nepali Press

Tufan Neupane in Himal Khabarpatrika (28 June-4 July) CJ 1

Chief Justice Ram Kumar Prasad Shah is retiring on 6 July, and he is being replaced by Supreme Court’s senior most Justice Kalyan Shrestha.

But Shah looks like a man in a hurry. After acquitting fake doctor Yeshe Lama from Humla who had embezzled $1 million from an American charity earlier this year, he is now embroiled in a scam to purchase computer equipment in violation of Public Procurement Act 2007, and hiring employees on two-year contract against the SC’s own recruitment process.

On 24 December 2014, the apex court’s Information Technology Committee (ITC), also headed by Shah, had called a tender to buy 375 desktop computers. International Electronic Concerns (IEC), a Kathmandu-based supplier, submitted a proposal to sell desktop computers per piece Rs 60,630 (excluding VAT).

But the ITC rejected the IEC’s lowest-price bid and accepted another proposal by World Distribution Nepal (WDN), which quoted much higher price of Rs 71,400 per piece (excluding VAT).

The ITC had to pay Rs 4.38 million more to purchase 475 desktop computers from the WDN. The IEC moved the court, arguing the ITC violated the article 47 (6) of the act, which says the lowest bidder’s proposal should be accepted. But the SC quashed the IEC’s petition, dubbing it ‘baseless’ on 5 May.

Article 25 (3) of the same act stipulates that the price at which goods are procured should not be 15 per cent higher than the lowest bidder’s proposal. But the ITC cunningly disqualified the IEC and other low-price bidders by adding a line in its tender notice: ‘data security and chassis intelligent management tool’. himal cover

Computers of all brands with ‘operating system windows -8.1′ have this tool but ‘chassis intelligent management tool’ is mentioned only in Dell computers, and the WDN supplies Dells.

Observers close to the investigation say the tender was tailor made only for Dell.  The Act says particular details, signs and words cannot be mentioned in tender notices to make only a few bidders eligible without justifying the reasons.

Shah was ITC chief even when he was not Chief Justice.  He was dismissed as the ITC chief by former Chief Justice Ram Prasad Shrestha, but was later reappointed by Chief Justice Damodar Sharma as the ITC chief. Chief Justices usually do not head any SC committees, but Shah did not resign from the post even after becoming Chief Justice.

Shah also seems desperate to hire 75 employees, including information technology director, managers and maintenance officers, on two-year contract before his exit. On 21 April, the SC published a vacancy notice and 472 candidates submitted their applications.

The SC follows a long process of written exam, interview and technical exam to hire contract employees. But this time, the SC short-listed 279 applicants for interview without taking their written exam. Several associations of the SC employees say the recruitment process was cut short to hire specific people  before Shah’s retirement.

Interestingly, the ITC’s System Network Administrator Bishwas Khatiwada, who is a member of the SC’s recruitment committee, is among the short-listed 279 applicants and is ready to be interviewed for the post of manager. Interestingly, the ITC had purchased desktop computers from the WDN based on an evaluation report prepared by Khatiwada.

Read Also:

Getting away with (almost) anything

Paper trail from Humla

Doctor who?


Zero-cost migration

Sunday, June 28th, 2015
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zero cost

Photo: Gopen Rai

Nepal is preparing to stop sending migrant workers to work in countries where employers do not pay for their air tickets and visas from 6 July.

The host countries have agreed, but ironically it is Nepal’s recruiting agencies who are opposed to the facility which at present costs migrant workers from poor families most of their savings.

The Ministry of Labour and Employment recently asked Nepal’s embassies in Malaysia and six Gulf countries (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain and Oman) to stop attesting applications submitted by employment companies demanding Nepali migrant workers unless they were willing to pay their ticket and visa fees.

Nepali recruiting agencies are up in arms against the zero-cost migration policy. They say it is not practical and other countries like Bangladesh might grab job opportunities in Malaysia and the Gulf if Nepal sticks to its zero-cost policy.

However, Labour Minister Tek Bahadur Gurung says the government will implement the new process despite stiff resistance by manpower companies.

“We are not backing out,” Gurung told Nepali Times. “Nepali migrant workers will not have to pay for their air tickets and visas from 6 July. We will be taking actions against those manpower agencies that charge a huge sum from migrant workers.”

Gurung says well-established employment companies are already paying for migrant workers’ airfare and visa fee. “They do not have any problems with our policy,” he says, adding that it is only small and not-so-established companies that make Nepali migrant workers pay for everything and often do not deliver on promised salaries.

“Nepali workers hired by these companies are often exploited,” he says. “Our decision will affect just these companies. We may lose up to 20-30 per cent of foreign employment opportunities with this new policy, but not those that are decent and well-paid.”

As of now, it is legal for manpower companies to charge Rs 80,000 from Malaysia-bound migrants and Rs 70,000 from the Gulf-bound migrants. But most migrant workers charge higher, up to Rs 120,000, by adding various other costs.

Om Astha Rai

Also Read:

Zero cost migration, really?

Belabouring the obvious

Blood, sweat and tears

 

 


Searching for son

Sunday, June 28th, 2015
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From the Nepali Press

Devaki Bista in Himal Khabarpatrika, 28 June-4 July

Every time someone visits the village of Dadhikot, Devraj Khadka hopes for some news on the whereabouts of his son Sabin, who has been missing since the earthquake on 25 April.

Captain Sabin Khadka, who went missing in Langtang after the earthquake on 25 April.

Captain Sabin Khadka, who went missing in Langtang after the earthquake on 25 April.

Sabin Khadka, 27, a Captain in the Nepal Army was posted at Langtang National Park when the earthquake struck. Apart from him, ten other soldiers went missing when an avalanche wiped out the entire area. Only the body of one of the soldiers- Keshav Bista was later recovered.

Manju and Devraj Khadka, Sabin's parents wait for news about him. Photo: Devaki Bista

Sabin’s parents Manju and Devraj Khadka, wait for news about him. Photo: Devaki Bista

 

Devraj was bedridden with fever when the news of Sabin going missing reached the family, three days after the earthquake. He immediately packed his bags and left for Dhunche to search for his son. Unable to get any information, Khadka returned home dejected.

Since then he has made the same trip thrice and handed out Sabin’s photos along with his own contact details to dozens but any news, good or bad, is still to reach the family.

On 22 June, when we reached Khadka’s residence, the family was performing a puja for Sabin’s welfare- it was his birthday. Although the past two months has been nightmarish, the family still hasn’t lost hope, “We will continue searching for our son till the day we die,” said Khadka.


 

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