KATHMANDU, NOV 07 – The government has formally requested the Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation (APECF) to register itself in Nepal so as to “legally” help the development of Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautam Buddha.
According to Culture Minister Gopal Kirati, the government has invited APECF executive chief Xiao Hiaunan to Nepal and requested him to register the organisation with the Social Welfare Council. An affiliation with the Council is a must for all NGOs and INGOs to operate in Nepal. According to Kirati, the government will receive a letter from APECF requesting the affiliation in a couple of days. APECF is a Chinese government-backed INGO that works in the Asia Pacific region.
Earlier, UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s initiative to bring in investment worth US$ 3 billion from APECF was dragged into controversy for allegedly keeping government authorities concerned in the dark about it. Dahal is the co-vice-chairman of APECF.
In a letter sent to APECF, the government has thanked the INGO for showing interest in Lumbini’s development. It has also urged the INGO to chip in with aid as per the rules and regulations of Nepal.
Before leaving for New York on Saturday, Dahal told reporters that APECF is also a part of Lumbini’s development.
The Lumbini Development Steering Committee led by Dahal plans to develop Lumbini as a ‘world peace city’ within the next five years.
Dahal is currently in New York to hold talks with United Nations Secretary General Ban ki-Moon on a broader master plan for Lumbini and seek international assistance for the same.
Lumbini, in Rupandehi district, around 300 km southwest of Kathmandu, found a place in the World Heritage Site list in 1997.
During talks on November 8, Dahal will request Ban to chair the Broader Lumbini International Development Committee and hold an international meeting on the place’s development at the secretary general’s office in New York. If Ban refuses to chair the committee, Dahal will request other internationally recognised persons to take up the job. The first Lumbini master plan crafted in 1978 aims to build about 7.7 square km of the area as Lumbini Garden. However, the newly formed committee aims to prepare a broader master plan covering three districts—Rupandehi, Kapilvastu and Nawalparasi. A UML member in the committee, Mangal Siddhi Manandhar, said the development of Lumbini as ‘world peace city’ will contribute to the country’s economic growth. “Lumbini is related to Nepal’s prosperity and overall economic development,” Dahal said, before leaving for New York.KAMAL DEV BHATTRAI from ekantipur