Millions of rupees embezzled while developing Rolpa as war tourism site

KATHMANDU: When the decade-long Maoist insurgency started in Nepal on February 13, 1996, Rolpa district was established as the headquarters of the Maoist.

Around 969 people lost their lives in the decade-long insurgency in Rolpa. The whereabouts of 33 persons are still unaccounted for. There is no calculation of injured persons.

The government has already spent around Rs 523.21 million to develop Rolpa as a war tourism destination in memory of those who lost their lives during the insurgency.

The then District Development Committee in 2011 and 2012 spent around Rs 16.7 million for various nine projects with an aim to promote Rolpa as the war tourism site.

This kind of budget has been allocated through local, provincial and federal government in the recent time. The projects and the budget has been increasing every year.

Holeri is the first place where the Maoists attacked a police station on the day they launched an armed insurgency in 1996.

The then Peace and Reconstruction Ministry spent around Rs 1. 2 million from the fiscal year 2014/15 to 2016/2027 to construct a martyr’s gate at Haleri Bazaar. There are no remains of the gate now.

Runtigadhi Rural Municipality Chairman Balaram Budha said that the gate was demolished to expand the road.

“There had been massive embezzlement in the construction of the gate. That is why the gate was demolished in the name of upgrading the road,” he said.

Similarly, the concerned authority had allocated the budget to construct a park at Sulichaur in Sunil Smriti Rural Municipality-4 seven years ago. But, the construction has not been started yet.

The Peace Ministry had allocated around Rs 1.8 million to construct the park in the name of Maoist commander Kim Bahadur Thapa.

Construction Committee Chairman Dron Bahadur Thapa said that they decided to halt the construction of the park as it is nearly one km far from the bazaar area.

It is ridiculous that Ward Chairman Gunj Chhetri has no knowledge about the park to be constructed in his ward.

The construction of a martyrs’ pillior to be constructed in the memory of the 44 people killed by the security personnel in Pategumchal on March 17, 2002 is in limbo for the past seven years.

A waiting hall and a toilet, which were constructed at a cost of around Rs 1.5 million provided by the Ministry of Peace from the fiscal year 2014/2015 to 2016/2018, are not in a good condition.

Local Dhan Bahadur Khatri said that then Chairman Nar Bahadur Pun coughed up Rs 400,000 in the name of constructing the martyrs’ pillar.

Earlier on May 2, 2002, Maoist rebels attacked a team of security personnel and government staffers deputed to protect the villagers. Around 106 security personnel and staffers were killed in the attack while 35 Maoist fighters lost their lives in the retaliation.

The Peace Ministry allocated Rs 3.2 million to construct a martryrs’ memorial park in the name of those Maoist fighters who were killed in the attack. But, the park has not been constructed yet. CPN (Maoist Centre) leader Rolpa Ramesh Budha was awarded the contract to construct the park.

Madi Jaljana Youth Club spent around Rs 3.2 million to construct a martyrs’ park at Jangkot in Rolpa Municipality-8. Local Kum Bahadur Pun said that Rs 1.4 million was spent to procure land and to construct a wall and waiting room. Now, the youth did not show any interest in constructing the rest of the infrastructure.

Police on June 22, 1999 killed 11 Maoist fighters hiding in Bagma-based Narendra Budha Magar’s house in Bhawang, Madi Rural Municipality-5. The Peace Ministry had distributed Rs 2.5 million to construct a park in memory of the deceased Maoist fighters.

Though Rolpa is ranked 68th in the Human Development Index, all the three level governments have major interest in developing Rolpa as a war tourism destination. But, all the governments have limited their interest to develop Rolpa as the war tourism site only in the paper.

Madi Rural Municipality spent Rs 3.7 million and Pariwartan Rural Municipality and Thawang Rural Municipality spent Rs 650,000 and Rs 150,000 in the fiscal year 2018/19 to promote Rolpa as the war tourism destination.

The government (now Lumbini government) disbursed Rs 20 million to promote Thawang as the war tourism centre the same year.

Out of Rs 7.5 million allocated by the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Rs 3.5 million has been disbursed to construct a guerrilla trail in Jaljala.

Rolpa Municipality allocated Rs 800,000, Pariwartan Rural Municipality, Sunchahari Rural Municipality, Sunil Smriti Rural Municipality, Thawang Rural Municipality and Ganga Rural Municipality allocated Rs 1,100,000, 1,500,000, 2,800,000 and 700,000 respectively. The Lumbini Province allocated Rs 10.5 million the same year.

The concerned authority has started constructing a war museum at Tila in Tribeni Rural Municipality-7 where the party had established a camp for the Maoist fighters.

The museum, which is being constructed at a total cost of Rs 13 million with Rs 9 million from the federal government and Rs 4 million from the state government, will have bunkers, duty posts and some old houses.

The five local levels of the district allocated Rs 9.8 million for war toursim in the fiscal year 2020/21.

The Rolpa Municipality and Madi Rural Municipality allocated Rs 1.6 million each and Pariwartan Rural Municipality, Sunil Smriti Rural Municipality and Thawant Rural Municipality allocated Rs 1.4 million, 2 million and 3.2 million respectively. The province also allocated Rs 8 million the same year.

The federal government spent Rs 60 million to construct a building in the name of martyrs at Rolpa Municipality-2. Similarly, the government spent Rs 5 million in the fiscal year 2019/20 and Rs 1.5 million in the fiscal year 2020/21 under the ‘Infrastructure Development Partnership Programme’ for the same building.

The Municipality has converted the building, which had been ignored for a long time, into an isolation centre for Covid-19 patients.

As many as 73 people died in Jailwang in the armed conflict. The Peace Ministry allocated Rs 42.8 million from the fiscal year 2008/2009 to 2017/18 to make a model village in Jailwang in the memory of the deceased.

Nearly Rs 10 million allocated for the shelter home of Dahal

The government allocated around Rs 9.5 million to protect the home where Maoist Centre Chairman Pushpa Kama Dahal took shelter during the armed conflict at Pariwartan Rural Municipality-2.

The contract to construct a museum at the house of Mohan Gharti, brother of Maoist leader Jayapuri Gharti, was given to her another brother Lal Bahadur Gharti. They spend the money just by replacing thatched roofs with galvanised zinc sheets.

Dahal stayed in this house for 11 months from April 13, 2004 to February 22, 2005.

Meanwhile, a view tower is being constructed in the name of war tourism in Rolpa. Likewise, a view tower has already been constructed in Thawang Rural Municipality at the cost of Rs 2.5 million. Similarly, a view tower is being constructed in Tribeni Rural Municipality at the Rs 2.5 million. A view tower is also being constructed at Gadhilek.

Around 67,988 students study in 407 community schools in Rolpa. But, there is not even a single teacher in around 200 schools.

While millions of rupees are being spent in the name of ‘war tourism’, the information center set up to provide information about tourism is in limbo.

The Civil Aviation Ministry had spent Rs 8 million to construct the information centre in the fiscal year 2012/13.

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