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R&D Economic Research & Business Development

Date: November 3, 2009

Highlights

"No situation has arisen yet that demands declaring emergency or mobilising the Army against the former rebels," Minister for Commerce and Supplies Rajendra Mahato told PTI.

Speaking on the occasion, Indian ambassador Rakesh Sood said India wants stability in Nepal so that the peace process is completed within the stipulated time.

Nepali Congress (NC) President Girija Prasad Koirala called for withdrawal of the Maoists' nationwide agitation and sought cooperation for passage of the budget through the parliament, a source said. UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal stood his ground and said the agitation would continue unless Maoist concerns were addressed.

Unified CPN-Maoist chairman Prachanda today met Nepali Congress (NC) president Girija Prasad Koirala, and assured the latter that his party would let Parliament pass the budget in a few days.

Two days after the main opposition Unified CPN (Maoist) started the nationwide agitation against the ruling coalition, Chairmen of CPN-UML and Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF) are flying off to New Delhi on Tuesday to hold parleys with top Indian leaders.

Speaking to media persons in the capital on Monday, Information and Communication Minister Shankar Pokhrel said the government is ready to foil the Maoist attempt for declaring autonomous federal states and blockade of the Kathmandu valley as part of their second phase protests.

The Unified Maoists Party has innumerable reasons to declare their second round of protest programs. Their detractors however, see that the sole reason for the Unified Maoists party is to shake the country and thereby grab power.

Coinciding with their party's protest programme at the local bodies across the country, Maoist cadres on Monday captured the Dhankuta Municipality, 'appointing' the office-bearers of the municipality including the mayor and the deputy mayor.

Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal has said the government is serious about providing security to the industrial sector.

CPN-Maoist cadres manhandled and smeared tar on Kewal Prasad Bhandari, chief, Customs Office, Birgunj.

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The Ministry of Home and Nepal Police Headquarters have sent an investigation team led by a senior government official to Sudan to initiate a probe into the Sudan scam. Senior government officials have raised serious questions over the move as the team´s entire expenses are being borne by the ministry and police HQ.

The prolonging liquidity crunch continued to fuel inter-bank lending rate further up to 10 percent - the highest in recent months -- while the discount rate of 91-day treasury bill also increased to 5.36 percent. The inter-bank rate last week was in the range of 8.5 to 9 percent.

Nepal´s petroleum products imports have dwindled to half the required volume as Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) tightened entry of excessive tankers in Raxaul depot - cramped by traffic jam - in the wake of fire gutting its Jaipur depot.

In a bid to add new dimension to the upcoming Nepal Tourism Year 2011 (NTY 2011), the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) has identified more than 10 new scenic destinations suitable for rural tourism.

The Nepal Association of Tour Operators (NATO) has raised serious concern about the series of nationwide protests announced by the UCPN (Maoist) starting from Nov. 1.

It is no secret that Nepal is a dangerous place for journalists. The Federation of Nepali Journalists says that in 2008 there were 342 violations of press freedom in the country.

Bamdev Gautam, Standing Committee member, CPN-UML, found it rather usual and customary when he saw a group of people eagerly waiting to greet him with garlands and flowers when he alighted from the plane at the airport in Simra. No sooner did he come closer to them, his cocksure demeanour gave away to utter disbelief. They were neither UML activists nor did they come to receive him. There were Maoist cadres, who had come to welcome their leader Giriraj Mani Pokharel. Both Gautam and Pokharel landed in Simra by the 10am flight from the capital.

Landslide victims of Patalkot VDC in Achham district have accused the government of providing them rotten food.

Plans to sacrifice more than 500,000 animals during a two-day religious festival in Nepal this month have met with the wrath of animal rights activists, who have called for the 300-year-old ritual to be banned.

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POLITICS: No emergency, Army to crush Maoists: Nepal government Kathmandu, Nov 2 (PTI) Nepal government today said it has no plan to declare a state of emergency or to deploy Army to crush the Maoists in the country, even as the former rebels launched a fresh agitation to oust the Madhav Kumar Nepal led 22party ruling alliance from power. "No situation has arisen yet that demands declaring emergency or mobilising the Army against the former rebels," Minister for Commerce and Supplies Rajendra Mahato told PTI. He said the government will take steps as and when necessary. He said the Maoists should follow legal procedures if they wanted to form a new government by dislodging the present coalition instead of going to the street. This shows their authoritarian mentality and also goes against the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, he said. Source: www.ptinews.com Date: November 3, 2009

Power cannot be won from street: PM India wants stability: Sood Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal has said that state power cannot be gained through street agitations and the time is not right for such protests. Speaking at the inaugural of the Manmohan Smriti Polytechnic at Hattimuda in Morang, PM Nepal said, “No one can gain state authority just through street agitations.” He added that nothing will be achieved by showing black flags or heating up the streets. “Since there is no alternative to consensus, the agitation has to stop and talks must move on,” the PM said. He requested the Maoists to stop their street agitations and come for dialogue. The PM claimed that the Maoist party cannot become a civilian party unless it is detached from arms and combatants. He opined that unless the Maoist party detaches itself from arms it will never win the confidence of people and the international community. “Unless the problem of arms is solved, the constitution cannot be written in the true sense,” he added. Chairman of the ruling CPN-UML Jhalanath Khanal also requested the Maoists to stop agitating and come to an understanding. He added that at such a challenging time, the Maoists should refrain from showing black flags and obstructing important programs.

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DPM Bijay Kumar Gachchhadar said, “I will not let Prachandaji´s wish to regain power through obstructing the House and agitations materialize.” “The Maoists have misinterpreted the other parties´ flexibility as weakness,” he added. President of the Academy Bharat Mohan Adhikari said that Nepal can meet the demand for skilled manpower in the polytechnical field. The project, completed at a cost of Rs 460 million under the aegis of the Indian government, has 22 modern buildings. India has agreed to convert the academy into a full-fledged engineering college. There are currently 288 students at the academy training for diplomas in mechanical, electrical and electronics fields. India wants stability: Sood Speaking on the occasion, Indian ambassador Rakesh Sood said India wants stability in Nepal so that the peace process is completed within the stipulated time. “Prime Minister Nepal had an extremely successful visit to India and in his interactions with the leadership of India, he was assured of India´s support for stability in Nepal so that the important tasks of concluding the peace process and drafting the new constitution in accordance to the schedule can be completed under his leadership,” he said. Source: www.myrepublica.com Date: 11/03/2009 Dahal rejects shun-stir plea UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal met Nepali Congress (NC) President Girija Prasad Koirala on Monday afternoon. During the meeting at his residence, Koirala called for withdrawal of the Maoists' nationwide agitation and sought cooperation for passage of the budget through the parliament, a source said. Dahal stood his ground and said the agitation would continue unless Maoist concerns were addressed. The Maoist chief said he would hold discussions with party leaders about letting the House pass the budget. The NC chief highlighted the need to form a high-level political mechanism at the meeting. Later in the day, Dahal held an hourlong discussion with senior leaders Mohan Baidya, Ram Bahadur Thapa and Krishna Bahadur Mahara at Maoist headquarters in Koteshwor. Responding to queries about his meeting with Koirala, Dahal said, "How do you know about the meeting?" Maoist Vice-Chairman Baidya said they evaluated two days of the Maoist agitation during the meeting. "We have concluded that our protest is a great success," Baidya said, adding that he was unaware of the meeting between Dahal and Koirala.

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Source: www.ekantipur.com Date: November 3, 2009

Maoists likely to let budget pass Unified CPN-Maoist chairman Prachanda today met Nepali Congress (NC) president Girija Prasad Koirala, and assured the latter that his party would let Parliament pass the budget in a few days. During their 30-minute one-on-one meeting at Koirala’s private residence in Maharajgunj, Prachanda told the veteran NC leader that his party would cooperate with the House to pass the budget either on November 5 or 6, according to sources. The parliamentary session, which was adjourned due to NC’s Mahasamiti meeting, is scheduled to resume on Wednesday. Koirala had asked the Maoist boss to let the House run smoothly, and help it pass the budget since the nation was reeling under financial crisis. The Maoists have been continuously obstructing parliament since August 7. Koirala urged Prachanda to call off their agitation and hold talks to find a way out of the political deadlock, which is adversely affecting the statute-drafting and peace processes. Koirala is believed to have told the Maoist chairman that they would be able to resolve all outstanding disputes. It will be a “package deal” once the long-proposed high-level Political Consultative Mechanism is formed. Prachanda agreed to mull over the NC leader’s plea, and assured to act on it after consulting his party colleagues. He also thanked Koirala for passing a resolution in the ongoing Mahasamiti meeting that urged the Maoists to call off their agitation. But the Maoist boss remained adamant on the President’s “unconstitutional” move to reinstate the then Chief of Army Staff Rookmangud Katawal. Though he wanted Koirala to ensure that it found a mention in the sankalpa prastav, the latter turned down the plea. Prachanda, who declined to comment on what transpired during his meeting with the NC leader, rushed to party headquarters at Paris Danda after his tête-à-tête with Koirala. Meanwhile, Upendra Yadav, president, Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum, today proposed that the unity government held the key to an early resolution of the political crisis. He urged PM Madhav Kumar Nepal to either take the initiative to form a broad-based government or pave the way for the same. Source: The Himalayan Times Date: 11/03/2009

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Party leaders resume 'Delhi run', UML and MJF honchos to fly to India today Two days after the main opposition Unified CPN (Maoist) started the nationwide agitation against the ruling coalition, Chairmen of CPN-UML and Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF) are flying off to New Delhi on Tuesday to hold parleys with top Indian leaders. Chairman of ruling CPN-UML Jhala Nath Khanal has informed his party's Standing Committee that he is going on a weeklong visit of India at the invitation of the Indian government. He is to board an Indian Airlines Flight for New Delhi at 5 pm today. During his India visit, Khanal will meet Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh, Chairperson of ruling Congress (I) Sonia Gandhi, senior leaders from the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Communist Party of India and senior government officials, it is learnt. The main agenda of the Khanal's visit has not been disclosed, but it is clear that he will discuss the fresh political crisis brought about by the start of the Maoists' nationwide stir with the Indian leaders and the possible solution to the impasse. Uday Raj Pandey of the UML's foreign cell is in New Delhi from the past few days to make necessary arrangements for the UML Chairman's visit. UML central member Arun Nepal will accompany Khanal during the latter's visit. MJF chairman Upendra Yadav is also flying off to New Delhi today in what he termed as a 'personal visit'. He had returned from his New Delhi visit only a month ago. Former Prime Ministers Sher Bahadur Deuba and Surya Bahadur Thapa had also visited India last month. Source: www.nepalnews.com Date: November 3, 2009

Govt will foil Maoist valley bandh: Pokhrel A senior minister has said the government is ready to foil the Maoist attempt for declaring autonomous federal states and blockade of the Kathmandu valley as part of their second phase protests. Speaking to media persons in the capital on Monday, Information and Communication Minister Shankar Pokhrel said such initiatives taken by the opposition party are against the peace agreement and interim constitution.

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He said there won't be any agreement for change in government leadership and parliamentary debate on president's move but government is open to talk on all other issues. Pokharel accused the Maoists of working for partisan interest, not for nation's interest. He warned that if the Maoists declared alternative government, the 22-party government would take all necessary legal action against the party. He said the government might use alternatives to parliament for passing the budget if the opposition party does not support to resume parliament session. Saying that street protests are not proper means to topple the government, Pokharel urged the Maoists to prove their majority in the parliament to lead new government. Source: www.nepalnews.com Date: November 2, 2009

Maoist Protest(s) to Liberate Hijacked Republican order The Unified Maoists Party has innumerable reasons to declare their second round of protest programs. Their detractors however, see that the sole reason for the Unified Maoists party is to shake the country and thereby grab power. “The vociferous Tiger has already tasted the Human Blood, it will come back again and pounce”, this is the conclusion of the observers. Restoration of Civilian Supremacy, fall of the puppet government, withdrawal of unconstitutional move of the president, formation of the national government…there are reasons aplenty for the ex-rebel party to organize another round of protest programs. Dr. Babu Ram Bhattarai, the Unified Maoists’ Party vice president opines that the agitation had become all the more urgent for liberating the nascent republican order from the clutches of the reactionary elements. He says currently the republican order has been hijacked. “The nascent republican order that was established through shedding blood of the people is experiencing threats and thus there is the need to organize protests”, Dr. Bhattarai said addressing a program in his home district Gorkha, November 1, 2009. “The Government is all set to declare presidential rule and also conspiring to dissolve the Constituent Assembly”, Dr. Bhattarai revealed. Source: www.telegraphnepal.com Date: 2009-11-02

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Maoists take over Dhankuta municipality Coinciding with their party's protest programme at the local bodies across the country, Maoist cadres on Monday captured the Dhankuta Municipality, 'appointing' the office-bearers of the municipality including the mayor and the deputy mayor. According to reports, the Maoist party declared Ganesh Bista as the mayor the municpality and Kabita Rai as deputy mayor. They also appointed chairmen in 9 wards in the municipality. The party declared that its team would look after the entire matters with the municipality. This was probably the first major step as part of the UCPN-Maoist's plan to declare 'autonomous states' and revive the insurgency era 'people's governments' at the local level. Maoist cadres picketed the offices of municipalities, disitrict development commitees and VDCs across the country today, preventing works in these bodies during the protest. Source: www.nepalnews.com Date: November 2, 2009

PM assures security to businessmen Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal has said the government is serious about providing security to the industrial sector. Speaking to the representatives of Morang Chamber of Commerce and Industries in Biratnagar on Monday, PM Nepal said the special security programme being introduced by the government also aims to address the security concerns of the business sector, PM Nepal's website said. During the meeting, the businessmen complained about prevailing atmosphere of fear in the industrial sector in region because of poor security situation. PM Nepal arrived in Biratnagar in an army helicopter to inaugurate the Manmohan Memorial Polytechnic Institute in Hattimuda. Nepal was accompanied by UML chairman Jhala Nath Khanal, Deputy Prime Minister Bijaya Kumar Gachchhadar, UML general secretary Ishwor Pokharel, Minister for Industries Mahendra Raya Yadav and Minister of Education Ram Chandra Kushwaha.

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Meanwhile, Maoist cadres waved black flags at PM Nepal when he landed at Hattimuda, Biratnagar. They also chanted slogans against the PM and the 22-party government. A number of programmes the PM was scheduled to attend in Biratnagar were cancelled because of the Maoist protests, reports said. Source: www.nepalnews.com Date: November 2, 2009

Customs chief faces CPN-M’s ire CPN-Maoist cadres manhandled and smeared tar on Kewal Prasad Bhandari, chief, Customs Office, Birgunj. Around two dozen party cadres, led by Dhurba Yadav, member, CPN-M, Parsa district, assaulted Bhandari in the latter’s office this afternoon. Ironically, Yagya Prasad Siwakoti , DSP, Armed Police Force, remained a mere spectator even as Bhandari faced the CPN-Maoists’ ire. The attackers alleged that the officer was guilty of deriliction of duty. They accused him of not checking the containers properly. The breakaway Maoist party cadres maintained that diesel and chemical were being imported instead of Furnace oil from Singapore. Earlier, the party had lodged complaints regarding the ‘malpractice’. Shaken by the assault, Bhandari told mediapersons that he did not expect good behaviour from uncivilised people. He maintained that he never shirked responsibility. “I’m conducting proper security checks,” he added. Meanwhile, Dhurba Yadav is in APF custody in connection with the incident. The Customs Office employees have ceased work in protest against the unruly behaviour of CPN-M cadres. Source: The Himalayan Times Date: 11/03/2009

POLICY: Under scanner home Ministry, police sponsor probe in Sudan scam

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In a controversial move, the Ministry of Home and Nepal Police Headquarters have sent an investigation team led by a senior government official to Sudan to initiate a probe into the Sudan scam. Senior government officials have raised serious questions over the move as the team´s entire expenses are being borne by the ministry and police HQ, which are under investigation on charges of financial irregularities in the procurement of logistics for Nepal Police personnel deployed for UN peacekeeping in Sudan. The officials said the move may influence ongoing investigations by a parliamentary probe panel. The State Affairs Committee of parliament has already formed a probe committee led by UML lawmaker Pradip Gyawali to investigate the scam. A report prepared by the UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) states that vehicles, catering, communication systems, furniture, tents, office, electricity, laundry and sanitation materials and health, welfare and internet facilities do not meet standards. Bypassing the committee, the Ministry and police HQ sent a separate team to Sudan at the ministry and HQ´s expense, purportedly for investigations. Joint Secretary Som Bahadur Thapa, who is also secretary of the Public Accounts Committee of parliament, Chief of the Home Ministry´s Finance Section Rishi Prasad Sharma and an officer at the Office of the Auditor General, Mohan Prasad Parajuli, have been in Sudan for the last 15 days. “Those who allegedly indulged in the scam cannot initiate investigations on their own,” a source at the Office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers (OPMCM) told myrepublica.com on condition of anonymity. If any team headed by an officer of joint-secretary level is to visit a foreign country it is mandatory to get approval from a cabinet meeting. Moreover, prior to that such a team has to seek approval from the Ministry of Finance regarding the expenses to be incurred during the trip. An officer at the Finance Ministry said the ministry is totally unaware of the visit. This time, the Home Ministry and police HQ did not even submit a proposal to the Finance Ministry regarding the trip´s expenses let alone get approval from the ministry. An officer at the Home Ministry said that police HQ arranged the whole trip and agreed to bear the entire expenses. The ministry and police HQ did not take consent from the cabinet either. “This is a serious violation of government regulations as those who are allegedly involved in irregularities are found to be conspicuously taking initiative for the investigations,” said an officer at OPMCM. The Home Ministry, however, denied any violation of government regulation, saying that an institution was free to carry out such internal investigations.

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Spokesperson of the Home Ministry Jaya Mukunda Khanal requested that the matter not be looked at suspiciously. “Every organization has the right to investigate its internal matters and we did the same,” Khanal said. He further said that the ministry is sending officials to Sudan not to influence any investigations. However, former home secretary Shreekanta Regmi said such an initiative cannot be taken as fair and impartial investigations. “Such a team, which is sponsored by police HQ, will in some way be loyal to the sponsor and may not come up with findings against the institution,” Regmi said adding that such a move will ultimately influence other independent investigations. A senior official at OPMCM said there are also chances for destruction of concrete evidence of irregularities.

Parliamentary committee seeks clarification Meanwhile, Gyawali said the parliamentary probe committee is concerned about the team´s trip that is taking place after the committee started its own investigations and it has sought clarifications over the matter from police HQ. He said one cannot rule out chances of evidence of irregularities being destroyed under such circumstances. “Therefore we have asked police HQ to furnish the objective of sending the team to Sudan, its terms of reference and other details,” Gyawali told myrepublica.com. The committee interrogated Inspector General of Police Ramesh Chand Thakuri over the matter some two weeks ago. Gyawali claimed that the parliamentary probe team led by him will never be influenced by any other findings. Source: www.myrepublica.com Date: 11/03/2009

BUSINESS & ECONOMY: Shortage of liquidity deepens The prolonging liquidity crunch continued to fuel inter-bank lending rate further up to 10 percent - the highest in recent months -- while the discount rate of 91-day treasury bill also increased to 5.36 percent. The inter-bank rate last week was in the range of 8.5 to 9 percent. The rise in inter-banking lending is a testimony to the fact that the liquidity -- the standby resources held by the banks for investments -- is shrinking, a banker told

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myrepublica.com. But he was quick to add that it was too early to conclude that it will put immediate impact on deposit and lending rates. "Yes, there will an impact on lending and deposit rates if the high inter-banking rate continues for another three to four weeks," the banker said. Though a slight liquidity shortage is a usual post-festival phenomenon in Nepal that used to last for up 10 days, this time it has been lengthening surprisingly and the market is still experiencing liquidity shortage even though the festival ended about two weeks back, added the banker. According to an official of Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB), the rising discount rate in 91day treasury bills is another indication of deepening shortage of liquidity. The NRB offered treasury bills worth Rs 500 million on Monday. But the bid amount submitted by the banks totaled Rs 1,150 million and the discount rate has also gone up to 5.36 percent from last week´s 4.48 percent. Bankers said the latest shortage of liquidity was also an impact of chronic note shortage that the country witnessed just before Dashain, Nepal´s biggest festival. The demand of liquid cash grew rapidly after the festival as the banks are demanding more cash to settle intra-branch flow of funds made during the crisis. “There has also been change in the pace of deposits coming back to banks compared to previous trends,” said the banker, adding that individual cash holding volume seems to have been increased due to the shattered confidence of depositors as they had to struggle to withdraw cash just before the Dashain festival. Source: www.myrepublica.com Date: 2009-11-02

IOC tightens depot safety policy Supply from Raxaul drops to half Nepal´s petroleum products imports have dwindled to half the required volume as Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) tightened entry of excessive tankers in Raxaul depot cramped by traffic jam - in the wake of fire gutting its Jaipur depot. IOC´s Jaipur depot was gutted by fire on Thursday and it is still ablaze. “In the wake of the accident, IOC has tightened its safety policy and has restricted entry of tankers queuing for fresh supplies,” said NOC Spokesperson Mukunda Dhungel. The IOC depot located adjacent to main road has always been facing traffic jam. To manage jam and queue, the depot was allowing the tankers to park inside the depot area in the past. That used to save time for tankers as well as depot and enabled NOC get as much as 2,400 KL fuel a day -- a volume which is necessary to keep the supplies going in the country.

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But under the new safety measures, IOC is presently allowing just about 24 tankers to enter into the depot at a time, and rests are forced to queue on the main road. This has not only worsened the traffic congestion, but also slowed the loading procedures. Because of the new provision, NOC has been receiving only some 100 tankers (of 16 KL capacity) load of fuel from Friday. The NOC needs to import as much as 200 tankers load of fuel from Raxaul to maintain its stock and supplies. The statistics of NOC shows that it received just about 1,100 KL of petroleum products on Friday and 1,300 KL of oil on Saturday. No fuel was received on Sunday, it being a public holiday in India, while the receipt of Monday also remained far lower than regular imports. The short supply, meanwhile, has caused a sharp depletion of diesel´s stock at Amlekhgunj depot -- the largest distribution outlet of the corporation. “The stocks position in Kathmandu is sound,” said Dhungel. Nonetheless, to maintain inventory and supplies, the corporation has started distributing 60 KL of petrol and about 84 KL of diesel to Kathmandu from Bhairahawa. Dhungel stated that the stocks and supplies position so far remains well in control of NOC management. However, sources informed myrepublica.com that the situation might worsen after load shedding hour increases, which is likely to happen next month. “During such situation, NOC will have no option but to secure the supply from Barauni, even though it will raise the cost of import due to rise in transportation cost,” said the source. Source: www.myrepublica.com Date: 11/03/2009

NTB identifies new destinations for rural tourism In a bid to add new dimension to the upcoming Nepal Tourism Year 2011 (NTY 2011), the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) has identified more than 10 new scenic destinations suitable for rural tourism. According to NTB, the move aimed at diversifying tourism destinations is also expected to lure 40 percent of the visitors expected during NTY 2011 to visit rural destinations. The government is also seeking for the private sector investment in infrastructure development in these areas. The government of Nepal had allocated Rs. 20 million to promote NTY 2011. However, a delay in endorsing the budget is hindering the release of this amount.

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It is learned that the selection of potential destinations, houses or resorts, providing training, making tour packages, familiarization trips and market promotion for the selected destination are underway. The NTB said that villages like Sirubari, Ghalegaon, Nar Phu, Lumbini, Chepang, Pasgaon, Dhading, Sailung, Siklish, Sirung, Balanthali, Shivapuri, Bhujung, Gorkha, Ganga Jamuna and Nagarkot have already gained popularity for village tourism. According to the Board, a number of travel and trade enterprises have tour packages for some of these destinations. Source: www.nepalnews.com Date: November 3, 2009

NATO worried by Maoist protests The Nepal Association of Tour Operators (NATO) has raised serious concern about the series of nationwide protests announced by the UCPN (Maoist) starting from Nov. 1. A press statement issued by NATO said that these events have come at a time when Nepal's tourism industry had been showing signs of gradual recovery. The demos could harm this extremely vulnerable sector of the national economy that can only thrive in a stable political climate, it added. The private sector has worked very hard with each of the governments since the Constituent Assembly elections to try to regain the proper destination image at the international level, which had been tarnished by frequent strikes and closures. As a result, the international community has only recently begun to look positively at promoting travel to Nepal, it said. NATO has requested the UCPN (Maoist) and its sister organizations not to carry out any activity that could adversely affect tourism activities and the movement of tourists. Source: www.ekantipur.com Date: November 3, 2009

GENERAL: Nepal’s journalists to double as informants? West Lafayette, IN, United States, — It is no secret that Nepal is a dangerous place for journalists. The Federation of Nepali Journalists says that in 2008 there were 342 violations of press freedom in the country.

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This troublesome statistic, coupled with the reigning environment of political harassment, makes Nepal a very challenging place for journalists and raises calls for more proactive government and social action to protect free speech. Unfortunately, the Nepalese government is ignoring such numbers. It wants to launch a program that, if implemented, would put journalists in greater danger and pollute their work environment. As reported by nepalnews.com, the government wants to use journalists as informants. They will be paid by the government to share information on their news sources, and possibly to keep an eye on the activities of the opposition. The Federation of Nepali Journalists has condemned the plan and has asked the government to cancel it. The International Federation of Journalists has also voiced its opposition, saying, "Plans to use journalists as law enforcement informers jeopardizes the independence and safety of media personnel." There is no word yet from the Nepalese government as to whether or not it will cancel this plan, however. In light of widespread criticism and opposition, it is safe to assume that officially the government will announce that it is shelving the plan for now. But if we look at the history of government-media collusion in Nepal, the plan will be put into action through backdoor channels. In 2006, the Commission for the Investigation of the Abuse of Authority launched an investigation into the alleged distribution of state funds to certain journalists. This was under the royal regime. According to Kantipur Daily, some well-known journalists in the country – including Hari Sharan Lamichhane, Rishi Dhamala and Babita Basnet – were paid considerable sums to further the interests of the royal regime. Altogether 99 journalists were paid. The CIAA investigation brought into the light the names of journalists who were paid, but the commission failed to do anything further. The disgraced journalists are still working in the field. There is no shortage of journalists in Nepal who are willing to collude with the government for money, and the present government knows that very well. So it is interesting to see that it came out in public to announce the plan to hire journalists as informants. The public announcement raises serious questions about how the government views journalists. It is pretty clear that for this government, reporters and media personnel are mere pawns ready to be used in the game of politics in return for petty gains. The government has no regard for the institution of journalism or the people’s right to fair and accurate information. When it harps about protecting journalists and a free press and fostering the people’s right to information, the Nepali government has all the credibility of a vegetarian tiger. Then there is the question of whether Nepal's journalists brought this upon themselves. The 99 who shamed Nepalese journalism aside, there are many in this

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field who view their work as a sacred task. These journalists are willing to take risks to investigate stories and uphold their vow to be fair and balanced. Unfortunately, these hardworking scribes are overshadowed by the rotten few. The rotten ones have created a bad image for journalists. Hence the government's audacity in declaring it wants to use them as informers is no surprise. Rishi Dhamala, who sold his conscience to the royal regime for 20,000 rupees (US$266), accompanied Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal and the official Nepalese delegation to the U.N. General Assembly in New York last month. He is now on the prime minister’s list of near and dear ones. It is true that Nepal is a dangerous place for journalists – the hardworking, honest ones who are not for sale. For journalists like Rishi Dhamala, life is a party at taxpayers’ expense. Source: www.upiasia.com Date: November 02, 2009

Hue of red perplexes Gautam Bamdev Gautam, Standing Committee member, CPN-UML, found it rather usual and customary when he saw a group of people eagerly waiting to greet him with garlands and flowers when he alighted from the plane at the airport in Simra. No sooner did he come closer to them, his cocksure demeanour gave away to utter disbelief. They were neither UML activists nor did they come to receive him. There were Maoist cadres, who had come to welcome their leader Giriraj Mani Pokharel. Both Gautam and Pokharel landed in Simra by the 10am flight from the capital. The UML leader, however, tried to put up a brave front in the face of seeming embarrassment. “He held small talk with us. I offered him flower as courtesy,” said Jagannath Ghimire, a Maoist cadre. While, a security person said that the former Home Minister was stumped once he figured out that they were Maoist activists. Used to trappings of power, he seemed to take it for granted that fawning UML supporters would welcome him anywhere across the nation. However, he had a wait for a while in the VIP lounge before heading to Kolbi in Bara to take part in a regional assembly. In fact, he came here without prior notice. Gautam and Pokharel were at ease in each other’s company in the VIP lounge. Pokharel took his party cadres to task for “ignoring Gautam”. And his logic behind the new-found camaraderie: “We’re allCommunists”.

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Source: The Himalayan Times Date: 11/03/2009

Dead mice in govt-doled food Landslide victims of Patalkot VDC in Achham district have accused the government of providing them rotten food. According to the landslide victims' relief committee, 17 people suffered from diarrhoea after eating the food that the Home Ministry had doled out last month. The Home Ministry had distributed rice, lentils and beaten rice to the victims of last month's landslides. The victims complained that the foodstuffs were rotten, foulsmelling and contained insects. "I thought cooking the decayed rice would make it fit to eat, but it tasted sour. And I fell ill after eating it," said 70-year-old Sewi Bhoara. The senior citizen said she found chicken droppings, feathers and even dead mice in the rice sack. "Unable to eat the food, I gave it to the cattle. Even they did not eat it." Sarjan Bohara, chairman of the relief committee, said they have collected foodstuff from the victims and plan to return it to the Home Ministry. "What is the use of such food, which even animals do not eat?" the committee chairman said. Source: www.ekantipur.com Date: November 3, 2009

Animal activists outraged by Nepal’s plans for mass animal sacrifice Plans to sacrifice more than 500,000 animals during a two-day religious festival in Nepal this month have met with the wrath of animal rights activists, who have called for the 300-year-old ritual to be banned. Every five years the tiny village of Bariyapur near Nepal’s southern border with India is swamped with blood as hundreds of thousands of Hindu devotees flock to the local temple to take part in what is thought to be the world’s biggest ritual slaughter. This year it is expected that about 500,000 animals, including about 25,000 buffaloes, will be offered to Gadhimai, a Hindu goddess, by devotees who hope she will answer their prayers in return. Proceedings begin with the sacrifice of two wild rats, a cockerel, a pig, a goat and a lamb.

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R&D Economic Research & Business Development

Supporters of the Gadhimai Fair say there is no question of them departing from a centuries-old tradition. Devotees can then bring their animals into the temple for ritual purification before taking them into the grounds where the beasts’ throats are slit. “The festival will lose its charm and become meaningless if we break with tradition,” Mangal Chaudhary Tharu, the temple’s head priest, said. This year, however, the temple authorities face a more powerful set of opponents than ever before:an international group of activists who include Brigitte Bardot, the French actress, and a 17-year-old Nepalese boy whose followers believe he is the reincarnation of Lord Buddha. Last year thousands of pilgrims flocked to a remote jungle in southeast Nepal to see Ram Bahadur Bamjan when he emerged from the forest after vanishing from view for a year. Dubbed “Buddha Boy” by the press, he first garnered headlines in 2005 when tens of thousands of devotees travelled to see him as he sat cross-legged amid the roots of a tree for nearly ten months — without, it was claimed, food or water. This week he spoke out against the ritual slaughter, with a spokesman saying that Bamjan was “disturbed at the thought of such mass killings in the neighbourhood”. “The campaign is producing results,” the spokesman added. “Three villagers have already handed over three buffaloes to us which were intended for sacrifice at the fair, saying they have had a change of heart.” The Kathmandu Post also suggested that some devotees were having second thoughts. “Many people are in a dilemma: whether or not to bring animals for sacrifice — they fear that the issue might trigger clashes during the fair,” it said. Opponents of the ritual say that it will harm the reputation of Nepal, one of the world’s poorest countries. Pramada Shah, of Animal Welfare Network Nepal, said: “By perpetuating such a mass massacre in the name of religion, culture and tradition in the 21st century, we are projecting Nepal as barbaric.” Activists have also claimed that the slaughter is a health hazard. Govinda Tandon, of the Stop Animal Sacrifices Alliance, said: “There are rivers of blood for months with carcasses lying everywhere. The grounds are dominated by vultures, while the stench makes life miserable for people living nearby. The only people who benefit are the skin traders who bid for the pelts.” Most observers think it is unlikely that the Nepalese Government, which has pledged about $60,000 (£36,500) for the festival, will intercede. Indeed, an influx of “sacrifice tourists” are expected from India, where ritual slaughters are banned in several states. The temple priest Mangal Chaudhary Tharu, whose family has presided over the festival for four generations, said: “We are not forcing devotees to sacrifice animals. It is an age-old practice and it must continue.” Source: www.timesonline.co.uk Date: November 3, 2009

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