At least 70,000 jobs in industries countrywide were lost in the recent months.Though there is no agency in Nepal that has authentic records of unemployment in the country, data compiled by the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) and the Industrial District Management Ltd (IDM) reveal that the number could be higher.
Labour dispute over minimum wages, demands of permanent appointment, frequent strikes, increasing hours of load-sheddding and the extortion racket by mushrooming criminal gangs and extremist outfits spreading terror in the Tarai have cost the country heavily, cutting the employment level by the day.
Data from IDM reveals that the industrial districts (IDs) have lost almost 20 per cent of the jobs. "A total of above 14,000 are employed at present in all the 10 industrial districts," said IDM general manager Giriraj Bhandari.
There are 10 Industrial Districts that are operational in Nepal -- Balaju, Patan, Bhaktapur, Hetauda, Dharan, Nepalgunj, Pokhara, Butwal, Birendranagar and Rajbiraj. The 11th one in Dhankuta is not operational.
In all the 10 IDs in operation - except the one not operational in Dhankuta -- 78 industries have closed, 394 are still operational and 80 are under construction. More than 3,000 people have lost their jobs in these IDs.
The people have more expectations from the IDs. "The people of Sunawal want the Industrial District to be expanded to their village development committee (VDC)," Bhandari said adding that IDM has been in recent days working hard to create a peaceful environment in industrial districts.
Aside from problems caused by the labour unions, increased load-shedding has added to the woes in recent weeks. The Industrial Districts have no alternative arrangement except the feeder. "Hetauda, Butwal and Dharan Industrial Districts need separate feeders to ensure smooth supply of power," he added.
The five-day power outage schedule that Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) published earlier hampered day-to-day operations in Balaju Industrial District. "Thus, we requested NEA to change the schedule," Bhandari said adding that there will still be a two-day weekly power cut in BID but not two consecutive days.
"We have also planned to instal a separate feeder in Nepalgunj Industrial District," he added. "Lately, IDM has been trying to ensure security in all the Industrial Districts and create a good environment for smooth operation of industries and ensure no more jobs cuts.
"Organised industrial development started in Nepal with the establishment of Balaju Industrial District in 1960 with US assistance. However, no new Industrial district was established after 1988, according to IDM.