Saturday, May 30, 2009

China gifts civil hospital to Nepal

China gifts civil hospital to Nepal

KATHMANDU: Last year, Nepal's inscrutable northern neighbour China stole a diplomatic march over India when the Himalayan republic's first Maoist Prime Minister
Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda chose to visit Beijing first instead of New Delhi.

Almost a year later, history repeated itself, with some modification.

The 132-bed Civil Service Hospital built by China for Nepal's nearly 86,000 government employees and their families became the first completed project to be inaugurated by Nepal's new communist Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal on Saturday.

By contrast, the 200-bed Nepal Bharat Maitri Emergency and Trauma Centre in Kathmandu, hyped as the second institution of its kind in South Asia after the one at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, has missed its projected deadline by almost a year.

The trauma centre, for which New Delhi allocated over Rs 680 million, was started in 2006 and was scheduled to be completed early last year. Executed directly by thegovernment of India through Hospital Services Consultancy Corporation of India as consultants and Unity Infra-projects Limited as contractors, the project is part of the India-Nepal Economic Cooperation Programme.

However, projects undertaken in Nepal under the programme have been coming into disrepute. Besides extravagant budgets, there are reports of projects not being completed within time. At least two schools were reported to have collapsed in the last one year while a gynaecological hospital built with Indian assistance was gathering rust till last year as it was yet to be officially handed over.

A fleet of buses that India gifted to Nepal's constituent assembly for the use of lawmakers lay rejected for a long time. They began to be used finally after the “Nepal Bharat Maitri” legend that was inscribed on them was painted over.

New Delhi's concern is bound to deepen with the Maoists – who are accusing the United Progressive Alliance government of having plotted to restore monarchy in Nepal – on Saturday pledging anew to keep up their disruption of parliament. The decision came after the chairman of the house, Subhash Nembang, refused to allow a debate and vote on the floor.

After failing to sack the army chief and losing their government into the bargain, Nepal's Maoists had called for a debate in the house followed by a vote to decide if the President Dr Ram Baran Yadav had acted in accordance with the constitution by reinstating the fired army chief. Now with the debate and vote dismissed, there is little hope of reconciliation between the former guerrillas and the new government.

As the divide between the two forces widens so does the rift between the Maoists and India. Maoist supremo Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda is now saying that deposed king Gyanendra's recent visit to India was part of an elaborate plot to put him back on the throne on the condition that he would plead ill health and abdicate in favour of his grandson, seven-year-old schoolboy Hridayendra.


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