Himalayan News Service
On the eve of the festival of Dashain and Tihar, people are on the buying spree. Customers crowd shops in order to buy essentials like rice, sugar, oil, ghee, wheat flour, beaten rice and dairy products. As a rule, come Dahsain and these items have the habit of disappearing or there is a scarcity of these. Since they are in high demand during the festivities, some unscrupulous traders are found selling them in the black market. As a result, consumers suffer and have to pay much more than the actual price of the commodities. It is during these times the government tends to intervene by opening low-cost shops. This year too the government has opened several such shops to provide low cost goods to the consumers for Dashain and Tihar. These are opened by four government bodies — Salt Trading Corporation (STC), National Trading Ltd. (NTL), Nepal Food Corporation (NFC) and Dairy Development Corporation. In the Katmandu valley, these shops have been opened in several places and they sell the various consumer items at subsidized prices. Of late, the price of the essential commodities have skyrocketed putting them beyond the reach of many consumers. The Dashain Bazaar, as the shops opened by the government entities are called, provide some relief by selling the essential items at a cheaper price. However, it is found that some of the items that are sold by them are not up to the desired quality. It is desirable that the goods sold in these shops be of the required standard. Selling sub standard stuffs only harm the reputation of the Dashain Bazaars. In order to make the goods sold at subsidized prices reachable to more consumers the government has done well to provide the food items to retailers too so that there would be smooth supply of the various essential commodities during the festivals.
The Ministry of Commerce and Supply (MoCS) has instructed the various district administration offices to open Dashain Bazaars in all the respective districts and also the major towns of the country. The local administration should see to it that such low-cost shops are opened throughout the nation so that the festivals of Dashain and Tihar can be celebrated in style by the ordinary folks too.
One feature of last year's Dashain was that the Nepal Rastra Bank did not have sufficient fresh notes to meet the demands. The notes are not only used for shopping but also given by the elders to younger ones after blessing them with the tika. The Nepal Rastra Bank learnt a lesson and says it now has enough fresh and clean notes for the festivals. Last year, there was virtual chaos in several parts of the country when public and private offices could not pay the salaries of the employees because of the shortage of bank notes. There were long queues of people in banks to acquire the fresh bank notes and many had to return empty handed. This was because the financial institutions were unable to meet the demand for withdrawal of cash because of the lack of bank notes. Now, the bank is distributing tokens to do away with long queues to withdraw fresh notes. This particular gesture should draw appreciation from all Dashain revelers.
Heritage and need
Stone spouts in the Kathmandu Valley have been relied on for centuries as source of drinking water. It is only in recent times that due to the lack of proper conservation efforts, many important stone spouts have dried up because of the construction of high rise buildings that have led to the destruction of the supply route of the water. The trickling famous Sundhara stone spout is a living testimony to how its supply route has been cut off by a mega-construction nearby. People still recall how Sundhara was bustling with people bathing, washing clothes and collecting water for drinking purposes. Now, it wears a desolate look. This has been the case with many famous stone spouts of the valley.
There are around 389 spouts in the valley which need to be protected as they are perennial suppliers of water, the commodity that the people in the valley are in dire need of especially during the dry season. So far, the efforts to conserve the spouts have not bee effective, and many have disappeared to make way for posh business complexes. To conserve the historical stone spouts is a need that can also meet the valley residents' water needs throughout the year.