Republica Daily, 31 Dec 2017
Amid new hopes and dreams among the people in the country after the successful elections paving the way for the new federal set up, what cannot, however, be ignored is our ground reality that still paints a very grim picture of our villages and towns. A cursory glance at the major events across the country in 2017 brings to the surface rather painful memories, instead of hopeful ones. Infrastructural shortcomings, as well as the lack of social awareness, appeared as the major challenge the country fiercely needs to overcome in the coming year.
Death of girls in Chhau goth (menstruation hut) registered a major event in the year 2017. In May, two young girls from Dailkeh (Lalsara Bk, 20 and Shanta Shahi, 19) died in the shed. One had succumbed to cold-related ailments while the other was bitten by a snake. Just in November and December the previous year, two girls had died similarly. Such deaths, physical abuses and accidents due to the ill tradition have gone unabated every year in the lack of awareness.
The government criminalized the Chhaupadi practice effective from August 17. Those who force girls, women into the Chhau shed get three months of jail term along with certain amount of fine. However, reports suggest that the new law is yet to be effective in the far west where the practice is followed fearing fury of deities against menstrual blood.
Massive floods in Tarai
Floods in the plains are annual phenomena. This year, the floods were more destructive and rendered thousands of people homeless in Saptari, Rautahat, Banke, Bardiya and Dhanusha among other districts in mid-August. Over 120 were said to have died while 35 missing in the floods. The home ministry had stated that 80 percent of the Tarai districts were inundated by the floods. The government provided Rs 200,000 each to the next kin of the diseased. Over 26,000 human resources including security personnel were deployed for search and rescue during the natural disaster.
Mungling - Narayanghat road project blues
The road widening project for the 36-kilometer long Mugling-Narayanghat road section continued to give serious hassles to the people for the third consecutive year. Passengers and travelers had to spend way more time in crossing this major section of the highway due to its ever sorry state. Even though the work has been going on for the last three years, it is still not near completion and people suffered a lot due to it throughout the year 2017. Two police personnel and two others died when a van was buried in a landslide at Kalikhola along the road section in June. In the monsoon, the snail-paced road construction had agonized people even more. But this has failed to draw the government's attention.
Major road accidents
Road accidents kill hundreds of people in the country every year. While numerous such accidents took place in the mountainous regions of the country almost throughout the year, the accident of a passenger bus headed for the capital from Rajbiraj in October and a similar accident in Jajarkot in March were the most ill-fated ones. Over 33 people died while many were injured when the bus that left Rajbiraj for the capital plunged into a river in Dhading. Most of the passengers from Rajbiraj were coming to Kathmandu right after celebrating the Chhat festival.
Massive fire at Birgunj gas bottling plant
A massive fire broke out at an LPG bottling plant in Birgunj on December 20, killing two firefighters and injuring many. Equipment and chemicals to douse the fire at Super Gas Factory at Sukhasaina of Birgunj were brought from Raxual of India. Police had later evacuated the settlement nearby the gas plant. The tragic incident, which is regarded as the most shocking incident in Nepal's gas industry, brought to fore the vulnerability of the areas where such gas plants are being run without being monitored.