In the last budget, the government had decided to give VDCs Rs 1 million for local development. If they provided a statement of accounts of the first instalment of Rs 500,000 they were supposed to get the rest of the money. The only problem is that in Dolakha, Sindhupalchok and many other districts village councils haven't been able to even meet yet to discuss local priorities like roads, electricity, drinking water because of Maoist obstruction. As a result, millions of rupees earmarked for the districts are in danger of being frozen. In many villages, even allowances for elderly and handicapped can't be allocated.
At the DDC level, the budgets haven't even been discussed because staff meetings have not been allowed. In Dolakha, for instance, all donor projects have come to a halt except the district roads effort, but even that project by DfID may be stopped. Many who had come to depend on construction jobs may now lose employment. "We thought we could begin by March, now it may not even happen by April," says Dolakha Local Development Officer, Bishnu Prasad Pokhrel, "now we are in danger of the budget lapsing, there is just too much politics in development."
The Maoists had agreed to a village council after a review of past projects under the royal rule. But that may be too late. Sindhupalchok may lose up to Rs 50 million in grants to the district because of Maoist objection to village councils meeting.
Development is the people's right. The VDC grants had allowed employment to be created at the local level for local development. All this is now in danger. The Maoists have their own rationale. Says Maoist Dolakha in-charge, Ganga Bahadur Karki: "Unless there is a political solution, all talk of development is useless."