Over the past few months, high-profile leaders have shown a heightened level of interest in Madhes development. Prime Minister KP Oli declaring that efforts are underway to make Madhes shine bright in the near future.
Sharing the platform with Oli, NCP Chairperson Pushpa Kamal Dahal assured the audience that there will be big changes in the sector of infrastructure development of Madhes in the next four years.
Oli later added that the government’s focus on Madhes has been strengthened by CK Raut joining the mainstream politics. After suffering isolation from rest of the country and consequential low realization of Madhes’ economic potential, this surprising turnaround to a pro-Madhes profile of the government is encouraging and welcome. It is expected that economic outcomes of government’s pro-Madhes stance will be applauded by Madhesi people and be reflected in local and national polls that might favor the left-leaning parties, displacing Madhesi and Congress parties that have had stronghold in the region for as long as democratic politics has existed.
However, the next steps of moving Madhes economy forward are going to be challenging, in terms of planning the region’s development and accessing the resources needed to implement such a plan. PM Oli has mentioned that the government will build an international airport in the region, improve road connectivity with Kathmandu and expand regional rail link to provide market access to India for trade as well as tourism.
There is a hope that these initiatives could give life to a hitherto moribund economy but much more needs to be done to start the process of a broad-based growth that benefits the population by expanding employment opportunities and diversifying income sources. This can happen only if the development plan gets designed in a way that local resources are used to fuel growth and improve market access.
If Prime Minister Oli and Chairman Dahal are truly concerned about Madhesi welfare, they will have to think of taming Koshi floods and putting in place a mechanism to harness this water source to its full potential. Then Madhesh can develop quickly and the whole region will shine bright. Canals and reservoirs will make the region look beautiful and attractive to tourists, much beyond anyone’s imagination.