Continuous Efforts for Indigenous Rights Protection

There are currently three levels of government after the nation underwent restructuring. The main objective of the local government is to implement the power that used to be limited to Singha Durbar and be exercised by local levels in villages. The local government is exerting the powers granted under Schedule-8 of Jurisdiction of Local Level Constitution of Rural Municipality and Municipality.

Morang is located in the southeastern part of the Ratuwamai Municipality with a population of 61, 139 people, as per the National Census of 2021. The literacy rate here is 75%. The following excerpt is an edited part of the interview between Ramjana Adhikari, INSEC representative, and Nageshwar Prasad Singh, the Mayor of Ratuwamai Municipality:

What is the situation of human rights in the Municipality?

The number of child marriages, which was a significant problem in this municipality, has decreased. After the local administration ran numerous awareness campaigns in the villages, warning that child marriage is a social crime, child marriage has been abolished. Child marriages have been prohibited in tribal and Madhesi areas south of the Hulaki highway due to the advocacy programs of the newly elected ward chairpersons. The municipality is serious and sensitive about child marriage. Examination of the Municipality’s human rights status shows the need to prioritize the rights of communities like Santhal, Musahar, and Jhangad. As a result, the rights of such communities are our priority. 

We have eradicated the practice of child marriage in this city, it is a huge achievement for the local government.

What plans have the Municipality formulated for the protection, promotion, and implementation of human rights?

Since the issue of human rights is so broad, long-term strategies have been created and implemented accordingly. Human rights can only be promoted and safeguarded if citizens, service providers, and service receivers are aware of the fundamental concerns affecting human rights. Therefore, the corresponding awareness program is in the implementation stage.

The local government has a right to develop and implement local curriculums. What is the Municipality’s approach to this?

Based on their area of residence or caste identity, Ratuwamai Municipality can be classified into two parts. The majority of the Brahmins and Kshetri settlements are in the Hulaki Highway North area, having a good literacy rate in the area. However, the Madhesi and the underprivileged community in the southern part of the Hulaki highway, do not have access to education, and we have not been able to promote awareness regarding it. Therefore the local government has planned to develop a curriculum suitable for both areas. Training regarding the implementation of the curriculum was provided for teachers. Due to the majority of the Muslim community in the southern region, a Madarsha (religious school) has been arranged for children of the community. Now the course will be implemented soon.

Housing development for the Santhal neighborhood has been started. What is the current situation regarding the right to housing for the community? 

Regarding the constitutional right to housing, we initially ran projects to construct homes for the members of the Santhal community. We aim to build houses housing for economically marginalized families as well. Although the program has been adjusted, only a small portion of the construction work has been finished due low budget. We intend to integrate with the housing program of the federal government. However, there are some difficulties in carrying out this plan immediately.

What plans are made for the eradication of discrimination concerning education, health, and the environment?

There is no discrimination in our Municipality. With the formation of an Educational Act that includes local curriculums, we have been working on education-related projects accordingly. We have upgraded the former primary health Center as a City hospital

The City Hospital of Ward-15 has dynamically changed the approach to basic healthcare. Because our Municipality is bordered by the Ratuwa and Bakraha rivers, the environmental impact is a little sensitive. Requests for embankments have been submitted to the Federal and Provincial governments. We have looked at whether the brick kilns have an impact on air pollution or not.

INSEC has been conducting projects on education, health, eradication of discrimination, and the environment. What are the impacts of these projects?

First, I would like to thank INSEC for conducting programs in favor of human rights in our Municipality. INSEC has raised the basic question of human rights through the project selflessly. The problems identified by the human rights group formed by INSEC have been discussed. It has become much easier for us to work on specific human rights issues because INSEC has brought problems that we were unable to recognize before the projects.