At that time, five former Prime Ministers had signed 12 points of the 10-year development roadmap from the same platform.
Birgunj is a place whose economic dimensions are related to the development of the overall economy. Being the main gateway of the country, there is no doubt that the development of Birgunj will be the basis for economic development of the country. However, the development infrastructure has not been developed as expected. Today, much of the development that has taken place in and around Birgunj has been possible due to its geographical location. It is not due to the special request and attachment of the government or the political leadership.
All the schemes like integrated customs at Birgunj port, petroleum pipeline from dry port, expressway under construction, trade route, airport are all products of Birgunj's existence. The country's largest industrial corridor has also expanded due to its relative ease in transportation due to its location at the main border point.
In order to use this uniqueness of Birgunj for overall economic development, its potential should be used more. And, there needs to be extensive development and expansion of such infrastructure. For this, the policy-making political leadership had to be committed. The private sector can give a vision of development. It is the job of political leadership to move it towards implementation. In this sense, there was a need for an equal and common concept among the political parties in terms of advancing the development model by keeping Birgunj at the center of economic development, which is still needed today.
Realizing this fact, the 'Nepal Leadership Summit' was organized in Birgunj on September 7, 2008 eight years ago in collaboration with the Birgunj Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Aarthik Abhiyan Daily.
At that time, five former Prime Ministers had signed 12 points of the 10-year development roadmap from the same platform. With only two years to go before its deadline, those commitments have not yet been fulfilled, they are limited to paper only. In fact, Birgunj Chamber of Commerce and Industry is only a creator of the concept. That roadmap of development is related to the overall development of the country.
Former presidents of the Birgunj Chamber of Commerce and Industry had also been raising this need. Why not take a common commitment from the top political leadership on the issue of development? This work was done when I was the president of the Birgunj Chamber of Commerce and Industry. At the same time, the Parliamentary Club was formed to raise the voice of the elected representatives in the Legislature-Parliament from Bara and Parsa. The concept of Happy Border came to the fore from the dialogue between the political leadership of bordering Birgunj and Raxaul region of India. Not only was there praise for the work we did at that time, but there were also requests to do the same for other places. There are some achievements from this effort. Our political leadership has not been as honest as expected in terms of basic development needs and infrastructure management. As a result, even after eight years of fulfilling the commitment of the Birgunj Declaration, no encouraging achievement has been seen.
The 'Nepal Leadership Summit - Roadmap for Economic Revolution: Vision 2080' took place at a time when the first Constituent Assembly had failed to reach its objective and a non-party government had been formed for the second purpose. At that time, it was challenging to get the parties to agree on the same concept, but now its implementation is as confusing as before. Considering the importance and potential of Birgunj in the overall development of the country, the leaders agreed on the concept of developing Birgunj as the basis of economic prosperity. However, the collective commitment expressed in Birgunj has not entered the agenda of any of the political parties concerned since then.
At that time, some of the committed leaders came to power again and again. Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Chairman of the Maoist Party, has twice been Prime Minister. Incumbent Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has repeatedly held the post, and is now the country's chief executive. Leaders Madhav Kumar Nepal, Jhalanath Khanal and Dr. Baburam Bhattarai are at the top of the main political parties. They do not seem serious about fulfilling their commitment. We did not see the expected role of leadership in transforming the vision given for the overall development of the country. It seems that they forgot about their commitment to the common concept of development in Birgunj eight years ago. Even the local leaders of these political parties and those who represent them at the policy and planning level seem to have ignored the task of drawing the attention of the top leadership.
In some cases, we have met and reminded them of our commitment in writing. However, the leadership remained indifferent to implementation. The leadership of the Birgunj Chamber of Commerce and Industry should now constantly push the political leadership in this. There should be a need to draw the attention of the leadership through mass media.
Meanwhile, a Nepal-India integrated check post has been set up in Birgunj. However, there is a growing need for improvement. The operation of peace bus service in the cities of Nepal and India is positive. Parwanipur-Birgunj-Raxaul power transmission line has been constructed. The process of operating the airport in the bordering Indian city of Raxaul has moved forward. In Raxaul, work is underway to expand the railway infrastructure and build a skyscraper. Debate has started about uniformity in the development of Birgunj and Raxaul. However, there has been persistent apathy in fulfilling the basic tasks and commitments expected from our government.
(Vaid is President of Nepal-India Support Forum and former President of Birgunj Chamber of Commerce & Industries (BiCCI).)
Translated from original article published in Aarthik Abhiyan.