Three new trekking routes identified in Mustang

Three new trekking routes have been identified in Mustang to increase tourist arrivals as well as to prolong their stay. The Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) has identified the new trekking routes as an alternative to the routes which has been displaced due to the construction of roads. The trekking routes identified as those connecting Lupra-Muktinath, Thini-Tilichotaal and Kokhethati-Sirkung-Sauru-Chokhopani-Chimang-Dhumbatal, said ACAP Ranger Sanjok Thakali Accordingly, infrastructure construction, publicity and promotion have been started. The old trekking routes have been displaced due to Beni-Jomsom and Jomsom-Kagbeni-Muktinath roads. As dust and make it difficult to trek on the usual routes, tourists have demanded a route where they can enjoy nature without any disturbance. Trekking Guide Hari Nepali from Leyte, Mustang, said that the number of foreign tourists coming for trekking in Mustang has decreased after the construction of the road in the district. However, the arrival of domestic and Indian tourists has increased. According to ACAP Jomsom, 29.12 percent of foreign tourists visited Mustang in 2022, but in 2023 that decreased to 19.20 percent. In 2023, a total of 90,365 tourists came which included 18,166 from the third world countries and 72,190 from SAARC countries, said Pramodraj Regmi, head of ACAP Jomsom. An entry fee of Rs 1,000 per person has been set for SAARC countries and Rs 3,000 per person for other countries visiting the ACAP area, which includes Lamjung, Kaski, Manang, Mustang and Myagdi districts of Gandaki province. Source: National News Agency Nepal

Cyber legislation needed to resolve problems: Minister Sharma

Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Rekha Sharma, has said delay in cyber legislation has caused various problems. At a cyber security orientation organized for the chiefs of the government offices including IT officers in Dang district, Minister Sharma, however, said government had forwarded law making process on cyber security. She sought suggestions from various sides for the cyber law. Government would collect suggestions from diverse sectors and move ahead accordingly, Minister Sharma said, underlining the need for all tiers of government to launch public awareness on cyber security. Moreover, she said although information technology has eased work, it has brought host of challenges due to sheer misuse. On the occasion, Undersecretary at the ministry, Raj Kumar Maharjan, informed that the orientation was organized to impart knowledge on how the information and data could be kept safely. Even the policy issues relating to cybercrimes and challenges before government were shed ligh t in the interaction. On the occasion, Chief District Officer in Dang, Rambandhu Adhikari, said cyber security is a sensitive issue warranting informed community to deal with it. Source: National News Agency Nepal

UML picks Neupane as its Chief Whip in National Assembly

Kathmandu: The CPN (UML) has nominated Bhagawati Neupane as the Chief Whip of the UML Parliamentary Party in the National Assembly, the upper chamber of the Federal Parliament. UML Federal Parliamentary Party leader KP Sharma Oli today nominated Neupane the Chief Whip in the upper house. Neupane told RSS that Chair Oli nominated her the UML Chief Whip in the National Assembly as per the UML Parliamentary Party Statute-2077 BS effective from March 4. Neupane has been appointed in place of the current Chief Whip Bhairab Sundar Shrestha whose term is expiring from tomorrow. UML central member Neupane represents Tanahu in the National Assembly. Source: National News Agency Nepal

Law Minister demands more time for TJ bill

Kathmandu: Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Dhanraj Gurung, has demanded additional time to conclude a bill relating to transitional justice. During a meeting of the Law, Justice and Human Rights Committee under the House of Representatives held on Sunday, Minister Gurung, said although bill was being prepared to conclude transitional justice, some more days were required to finalize it. Additional debates are needed for further clarity on some issues relating to the conflict victims and justice, he added. "Provisions as forwarding prosecution if victims' consent eludes; and how punishment could be decided if prosecution is forwarded need discussion," he informed the meeting, seeking clarity on this significant legislation process. On the occasion, NC Chief Whip Ramesh Lekhak underlined the need of adopting international standard and the process that ensures justice to the victims. Chief Whip of CPN UML, Mahesh Bartaula, also said conflict victims' rights to justice must not be ignored in the bill. "In any case of conflict, regular legal proceeding could be adopted," he viewed. Other members of the Committee as Sushil Sharma, Ranju Kumari Jha, Naina Kala Thapa, Nagina Yadav, Sobita Gutam, and Santosh Pariyar said the conflict victims must not be deprived transitional justice. Committee Chairperson Bimala Subedi however informed that an integrated draft of bill will be prepared by incorporating the issues raised on it, and presented and passed by the Committee. Source: National News Agency Nepal

Onset of pre-monsoon spell: Cloudy weather forecast across country

Kathmandu: The pre-monsoon spell has commenced in Nepal recently with winter coming to an end. The winter this time was less cold and brought little rainfall than estimated. Although the pre-monsoon period started from last Friday with the termination of winter, it will take some days more for the pre-monsoon to become fully active, according to the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology. Today's cloudy weather is the first such case after the onset of the pre-monsoon period, sad Rojan Lamichhane, a meteorologist at the Meteorological Forecasting Division. He said the recent cloudy weather is mainly due to the Westerly wind and the moisture-laden wind from the Arabian Sea. According to him, the weather is much cloudy in Lumbini, Bagmati, Gandaki and Karnali provinces while it is less cloudy in the Sudurpaschim, Koshi and Madhes provinces at present. He further said the latter provinces will also witness cloudy conditions as the clouds have been advancing towards these provinces. This trend will increase un til tonight and the weather will improve gradually from tomorrow. Meteorologist Lamichhane shared that the western region will witness more cloudy condition tonight. Kathmandu is receiving light rainfall since the morning today. November 2, 2023 to February 29, 2024 was the winter period this year. Although winter is gone, the influence of Westerly wind still remains, according to the Division. Source: National News Agency Nepal

Nepali institute runs AI schools for foreign scholars

Kathmandu: At a time when Nepal is often described as a latecomer in technology, the arrival of foreign scholars on data, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) to attend learning camps here can be the elation beyond IT sector. Information to this was shared during an AI conference organized in the federal capital, Kathmandu, on Sunday. It is NepAl Applied Mathematics and Informatics Institute (NAAMII), an organization run by youth scientists, which has been catering knowledge and skills to the foreign scholars- doing PhD in data, robotics and AI through summer, winter and spring schools. They are 11-day schools. Director at NAAMII, Dr Bishesh Khanal, informed that they had conducted four editions of such AI schools in which the AI students and students of data sciences from more than 30 countries have attended. The PhD students visit NAAMII as part of their academic study. Although NAAMII does not provide credit to them, the students are imparted world class knowledge on AI by the acclaimed national a nd international scientists. "Even the data scientists from Britain's Prime Minister's Office have applied to study AI here," he claimed. The students from the countries including China, Russia, Nigeria, Uganda and others study in the NAAMII schools paying fee. NAAMII was established in Nepal in 2018. In a question whether Nepal could prosper AI in the face of barriers ranging from lack of infrastructure to informed policy, he responded, "It's wrong to deny AI opportunities in Nepal. NAAMII's team has stood first in the global competition of the scientific research on pressing issue." Dr Khanal however demands state to augment investment in research and development, establish centre of excellence, and facilitate in creation of infrastructures eg special computer for special research. "Nepal can be rich in startups to boost national economy, for which proper policy is required," he suggested. At the event, 'AI Conference for Prosperous Nepal: Future of Work', organized jointly by Ministry of Education, S cience and Technology, The Asia Foundation, Robotic Association of Nepal, Frost Digital Ventures and AECon, other speakers also underlined the need of more investment and research for AI to leverage it to the benefit of every Nepali. 10-year vision for AI needed Head of Strategy and Managing Director at Fusemachine for South Asia, Parag Shrestha, said Nepal needs to set 10-year vision for AI. "We need to think of sovereign AI in Nepal," Shrestha said, adding that vision, policy, infrastructures, national awareness, research and development are other essentials to benefit from AI. Earlier in the inaugural of the event, Alan Turing Fellow at The Alan Turing Institute, UK, Dr Sethu Vijayakumar, viewed AI can be utilized for climate change mitigation, food security and healthcare. "Data should be programmed in a way the robots respect human," he said, adding that robotics and data are not only for high tech community but also for addressing pressing challenges of present society. According to him, converting society into intelligent society is a challenge to this end at present. Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' and Minister for Education, Science and Technology, Ashok Rai, had also addressed the inaugural of the conference. PM Dahal stressed that AI should be utilized for innovation and productivity. "Developed countries have given huge significance to AI and global race for it is astonishing. So, Nepal can not stay idle, but need to adopt AI and robotic technology in an informed manner," he mentioned. Emerging AI landscape in Nepal The PM reminded that government had allocated budget for the science technology and innovation fund for the ongoing fiscal year. He expressed happiness over emerging AI landscape in Nepal. "Despite opportunities, challenges of AI as impact on privacy, equality and job displacement must be taken into account," he made aware the stakeholders. Similarly, Minister Rai believed modern technology including AI could be leveraged to graduate Nepal to the status of developing countries by 2026. On the occasion, British Ambassador to Nepal, Rob Fenn, said UK is proactive and enabling environment to foster AI debate and development. "IT, in particular AI, is in priority of our assistance in Nepal," he shared, adding that AI can be used for healthcare, reduction of poverty, disaster vulnerability etc. Secretary at Education Ministry, Pramila Devi Bajracharya, informed that the conference was organized to whet debate on AI and prepare informed AI Policy. It is worth noting that Nepal has been ranked 150th out of 193 countries in the Government AI Readiness Index, 2023. Source: National News Agency Nepal

One killed in incident of fire

A woman has been killed in an incident of fire in Itahari. The deceased has been identified as 52-year-old Gopimaya Katwal of Itahari-6. Katwal died in the fire that broke out in the house of Bishnu Khadka of Itahari-6 last night, Deputy Superintendent of Police of Sunsari Naveen Krishna Bhandari said. Katwal was living in a rented room of the house with her son and daughter-in-law. Preliminary investigation by police has shown that Katwal may have resorted to self-immolation, as the room was locked from inside. Further investigation into the incident is underway, Sunsari District Police Office said. Family sources said that Katwal had been on a medication for depression. Source: National News Agency Nepal

DoB of bride and groom mandatory in invitation card

The Aathbiskot Municipality-3 of Rukum Paschim has implemented a provision that the date of birth of the bridegroom and the bride must be mentioned in the wedding invitation card. Ward Chair of Athabiskot-3, Kesharman BK said that the provision to mention the date of birth of the bridegroom and the bride in the wedding invitation card has been implemented to prevent child marriage. Furthermore, initiatives have been started to control consumption of alcohol and tobacco products in marriage function. BK said that since alcohol and tobacco products are used during marriage functions, the ward has implemented a system where the ward must be given a commitment not to use alcohol and tobacco products by the concerned sides. It is believed that around 10 couples indulged in child marriages in the ward in the 10 months of the current fiscal year. The ward office was successful in stopping the wedding of a minor couple. The ward office also warned of action according to the law if the rules are violated. It may be noted that alcohol and tobacco products have been banned in the ward for the past five years. Source: National News Agency Nepal

PM Dahal bats for ‘paperless and faceless’ system to enhance good governance

Kathmandu: Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' has said good governance can be made meaningful only by delivering services through the 'paperless and faceless' system in the coming age. Addressing the scientists' conference entitled 'AI for Prosperous Nepal, Employment for the Future', here today he stressed on the need of giving priority to the use of technology for providing public services. "The government will take the necessary initiatives that it needs to take from its side for the development of computer technology, robotic technology, data science, machine learning, internet of things and computational infrastructures," the PM said, adding that the government would move ahead coordinating the policy related to AI with the National Science and Technology and Innovation Policy, 2076 BS and the Digital Nepal Framework, 2019. Stating that the government has pursued various studies and research works in the emerging technology sector, he said budget has been allocated for setting up the Scienc e Technology Innovation Fund, attaching importance to the science and technology sector. On the occasion, PM Dahal directed the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology for creating the opportunities of self-reliance in the technology sector. According to him, special importance would be given to science technology research and innovation in the policy and programmes, and the budget for the upcoming financial year. "This sector has been included with due importance in the proposed 16th Periodic Plan as well, he added. The Prime Minister expressed the belief that the government bodies will emphasize on developing projects increasing the role of AI from the next year alone for enhancing innovation and productivity, the PM's Private Secretariat stated. He also made it clear that 'ChatBot' services and projects related to metadata analysis based on AI would be implemented with priority for the information of services provided by the government agencies. Prime Minister Dahal expressed the confidence that the conference with the theme of 'AI for prosperous Nepal - employment for the future', jointly organized by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and various stakeholders, will support in materializing the dream of building a prosperous Nepal. It is time saving and of multiple useful for innovation and productivity growth while carrying out the regular works done by people or the works taking long time and those works people cannot do through the use of AI, the Prime Minister asserted. Source: National News Agency Nepal

Call for managing security outside of LDT area

A demand has been made for making the security management at Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, more effective. A delegation comprising the office-bearers of the Lumbini Development Trust (LDT) met with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Narayan Kaji Shrestha today and discussed with him on the topic of responsibility of security management outside of the area covered by the LDT master plan. On the occasion, LDT Vice-Chair Dr Lharkyal Lama called for managing the security outside the LDT master plan area by mobilizing the Armed Police Force (APF), keeping in mind the security sensitivity of Lumbini. Stating that before this a meeting of the LDT had decided on setting up a permanent base of APF and send a file related to the decision to the Ministry of Home Affairs, the LDT Vice Chair drew the Home Minister's attention for additional initiation to that connection. During the discussions, Home Minister Shrestha expressed the commitment to take initiatives for establishing the APF's permanent base camp. With regard to the LDT's works, he said, further initiatives would be taken with the Ministry concerned for its management and development. Vice-Chair Lama said that they expected cooperation from the federal government in the context of the development of the greater Lumbini area and the implementation of the LDT master plan. LDT Treasurer Dhundi Raj Bhattarai shared that they have been managing the security within areas covered by LDT master plan through internal resources and urged the government to prioritize this topic in the budget. LDT Member-Secretary Sanu Raja Shakya stressed on the need of strengthening the security mechanism in the LDT as the area is sensitive area. He suggested that the APF should be given the responsibility of security in areas outside of LDT and urged for upgrading the present temporary APF camp in the area into a permanent base. Source: National News Agency Nepal

Republic is the outcome of martyrs’ blood, sweat and sacrifices: Minister Sharma

Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Rekha Sharma, has said nobody can dare challenge the federal democratic republic established on the foundation of the blood, sweat and sacrifices of the martyrs. Minister Sharma said this while addressing a programme of garlanding the statues of the martyrs, who laid down their life for establishing the republic, organized on the occasion of the CPN (Maoist Centre)'s Martyrs' Week at the Sahid Park, Ghorahi Sub-Metropolitan City -6 in Dang today. She reiterated that nobody should under estimate the contribution and sacrifices of many martyrs for establishing the present system and change. Describing the federal democratic republic as the most developed of political systems in the world, Minister Sharma said there is no room for anyone questioning this system. Although the elements who want to create instability have been criticizing the existing political order, all should understand the foundation of establishing the republic and its dimension, she further added. "It is about to be two decades since the initiation of the peace process in the country. It was said the peace process would be finalized in six months. It has actually become too late by this time. The remaining works of the peace process should be taken to a meaningful conclusion at the soonest by keeping them in priority. The government is seriously working to that end," said Minister Sharma, who is also the government spokesperson. She stressed that now there should not be any delay in providing justice to the individuals and families of those who suffered due to the long struggle waged for changing the political system in the country. "The government is in the process of having the bill related to transitional justice passed from the parliament," the Communications Minister said, adding that getting the bill passed from the parliament is important for addressing the topic related to the disappeared combatants. She added that a work procedure has been prepared ensuring the medical treatm ent of the combatants injured during the people's movement. The CPN (Maoist Centre) has been observing the Martyr's Week every year from Fagun 14 to 21 as per the Nepali calendar. Source: National News Agency Nepal

Rain stops Namibia-Netherlands game under International Triangular T-20 series

Kathmandu: Rain has affected the game between Namibia and the Netherlands held here today under the ongoing Triangular International T-20 Series. The play had to be stopped in the 15th over after it started raining. Namibia which was sent into batting first after losing the toss had made 98 runs, losing four wickets in the 15th over. The pitch is now covered by tarpaulin sheet. The match is taking place at the Tribhuvan University Cricket Ground in local Kirtipur. Source: National News Agency Nepal