Prachanda on Hong Kong visit to attend meeting
Last Updated: Sunday, August 07, 2011, 23:15
Kathmandu: Nepal's Maoist supremo Prachanda will embark on a visit to Malaysia tonight to attend a meeting of a Hong Kong-based foundation which has sparked a row here with a proposal to invest USD 3 billion in Lumbini, the birth place of Lord Buddha on the Nepal-India border.

Prachanda will attend in Hong Kong the meeting of Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation (APEC) Foundation, which claimed to have signed a MoU with United Nations Industrial western Lumbini to convert it into a "Mecca for Buddhists".

Prachanda is leaving for Malaysia where he will meet his Nepalese sympthizers and then head to Hong Kong to attend the meeting from August 8, party sources said.

APEC Foundation and UNIDO plans to develop Lumbini as a special development zone and roads and airport will be constructed. State-of-the-art communication system, water and electricity facilities will be added to the zone which is enlisted as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

Modraj Dotel, Secretary in the Ministry of Culture, has stepped down alleging "non-transparent" functioning of the government in the proposed USD 3 billion investment.

"I have resigned as works are being done in non- transparent way which has become a matter of concern for us," he was quoted as saying by Annapurna Post daily, before heading to India's religious town of Kashi yesterday.

The Communist-led ruling alliance is dependent on the Maoist party for its survival.

Strong pressure was exerted on Dotel to implement the project of the foundation, whose co-chairmen are Maoist chief Prachanda and Nepal's former Prince Paras, according to the Post.

Dotel hinted that pressure was being exerted to implement the project. He was in favour of "implementing the (Nepal Government's) master plan for the development of Lumbini rather than making it a commercial centre as envisioned by the Foundation".

The government's master plan was prepared by famous Japanese architect Kenjo Tange in 1978 at the initiative of then UN Secretary General U Thant in Lumbini.

Officials at the Lumbini Development Trust, the main body entrusted to develop the historic town, have said that they had no information about the APEC Foundation's project.

According to observers, the controversial project being secretly developed by China might create security concern for India, as it would require presence of Chinese officials in the area which is close to Nepal India border.

Prachanda's visit to Malaysia comes at a time of deepening political crisis in the country, with mounting pressure on embattled Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal to quit for the failure to push forward the peace process.

Khanal has announced that he would quit by August 13 if there was no "concrete" progress in the 2006 peace process, including on the crucial issue of the rehabilitation and integration of the 19,000 former Maoists' combatants.

Maoists, who are the key supporters of the Communist-led government, have claimed the right to lead a new national unity government in Nepal, projecting its vice chairman Baburam Bhattarai as the new Prime Minister.

The main opposition Nepali Congress has asked Khanal to implement the May 29 five-point deal reached among the three major political parties, which includes concluding the peace process, expediting constitution writing process, integration of the Maoists' combatants and resignation by the Prime Minister to pave way for a national consensus government.


First Published: Sunday, August 07, 2011, 23:15

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