Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Excerpt from Himalayan Times (Kathmandu, Nepal))

Please refer to the last blog ("Digging one's own grave"), rather coincidentally the "Himalayan Times" from Kathmandu (see here) also featured this story (connected with the same issue) on 04Jan2010.

Boulder,sand export barred
Last Updated : 2010-01-04

Arjun Bhandari
KATHMANDU: The parliamentary Natural Resources and Means Committee today directed the government to immediately stop exporting boulders, crushed stones and sand to India, citing serious environmental threat to the Chure range due to over exploitation of the natural resources.
The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by committee chairperson Shanta Chaudhary. The committee has directed the Ministries of Home, Local Development, Industries and Forests to implement the committee decision.
Minister for Forest and Soil Conservation Deepak Bohara, who was present during the meeting, lauded the committee’s decision.
Lawmakers said over exploitation and export of the country’s natural resources had resulted in heavy landslides, flash floods, environmental degradation and massive deforestation in the fragile Chure range.
They even warned that the fertile Tarai region would turn into desert if human encroachment in the range was not immediately stopped. The trucks loaded with boulders are also the major cause of damaging country’s highways that can withstand load only up 12 tonnes, the lawmakers said. Those trucks, however, carry more than 20 tonnes.
The revenue earned from the export of these items is far less compared to the environmental degradation in the Chure range and damage to the national highways, they observed.
With the committee’s decision suspending the export of the boulders, crushed stones and sand to India, hundreds of crusher industries located in the Tarai from east to west would suffer and the investment made in this business would be at risk.
Nepali Congress chief whip, who is a committee member, said the country could not afford the damage caused by environmental degradation in the Chure hills for a few million rupees.
Abhisekh Pratap Sah, a lawmaker of the Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum, objected the committee’s decision and wrote a note of dissent.
Other lawmakers — Navodita Chaudhary, Prithvi Subba Gurung, Rana Dhwoj Limbu, Ram Kumar Sharma — alleged that the government had yielded to the commission agents and did not care about preserving the environment of the Chure range, which plays an important role in maintaining ecosystem in the Tarai.
Rupandehi, Morang, Bara, Makwanpur, Kapilvastu and Nawalparasi are some of the districts from where the largest amount of boulders, crushed stones and sand are exported to India, where they are used for the construction of highways, railways and buildings in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
The committee has also formed a sub-committee to come up with a policy regarding the use of the natural resources. The committee had called environment, local development, industry and forest ministers. But Bohara was the only minister to be present during the meeting.

- my thanks to Dr David Petley, Durham University, (UK) for referring this story

Praful Rao

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