Nepal | May 27, 2020

Experts question the logic behind one more highway in Chure area

Pushpa Raj Acharya
Share Now:

Kathmandu, May 28

As announced in the government’s policies and programmes, the next fiscal budget will allocate adequate resources for Madan Bhandari Highway, a new priority project that will span along the Chure foothills and connect eastern and western parts of the country. However, the rationale of a new highway in Chure range has been questioned, as a number of mega projects like Postal Highway, East-West Railway and East-West Highway have already been initiated in the same area.

“The new project that the government is going to initiate contradicts with the President Chure Conservation Programme, which aims to conserve the forest of the Chure area by controlling destruction and deforestation of Chure region which have adversely affected the groundwater balance in the Tarai region,” said Mahesh Acharya, former minister for the forest and soil conservation, adding, “The distance between Chure foothills and the Indian border is just 35 to 40 kilometres, and I do not see any sense of crowding the Tarai with railway and highway projects, as the region is already facing number challenges due to water-logging.”

Another highway project – Mid-Hill Highway – that will connect Panchthar of eastern Nepal to Baitadi (Jhulaghat) of western Nepal is being constructed to expand the access of road.

According to experts, the new highway project will create adverse impact on the environment as the Chure range is already fragile due to flooding and water-logging.

“Most of the country’s rivers/streams flow through this area and water-logging will be a serious challenge if we build another road structure,” Binod Bhatta, an environment and forest area specialist told The Himalayan Times. “We have seen during construction of different sections of Postal Highway that certain roads and culverts have been swept away, inundating hectares of arable land due to lack of proper drainage system.”

Citing an example of Dharan-Chatara-Hetauda road section (which will be aligned with the proposed Madan Bhandari Highway), where the destruction of forest is rampant and there are no retention walls to protect soil erosion and landslides, Bhatta said that development without adopting proper environmental safeguards will only result in destruction.

“Before initiating any development project, planners have to properly understand the pitfalls and environmental impacts,” he said. “The ropeway system from Tarai to Chure range is a more feasible, economically and environmentally sound alternative, but the planners have not paid any attention to it.”

Following the construction of a new highway project in Tarai, people from the high-hills and mid-hills will start migrating to either sides of the highway, and the increased human activities will make the entire Chure range – which is fragile as it is with half of the country’s population already living in the Tarai – more vulnerable to environmental degradation and risks, as per Bhatta.

“The policies and programmes have envisioned developing an industrial corridor alongside the Madan Bhandari Highway, which is against the principle of sustainable use of the environment and natural resources.”

Apart from the East-West Highway, Postal Highway, East-West Railway and proposed Madan Bhandari Highway, the Indian government has developed another road corridor along the border with Nepal and these five structures in this range would have serious impacts on the environment, which has been overlooked by the planners, according to environment conservation specialists.

“Moreover, the arable land of the Tarai will be wiped out along with the migration to the Chure range after the construction of the new highways, which could pose a challenge to government’s plans of doubling the agricultural output in five years.”


A version of this article appears in print on May 29, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.


Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

15 including ward chair arrested in connection with Dalit youth's killing in Rukum

JAJARKOT: Police have arrested Dambar Bahadur Malla, ward chair of Chaurjahari Municipality-8 along with fifteen others in connection with the death of three youths in Rukum West. Three more are still missing while scores were injured in the incident. One of the youths, Nawaraj BK (21) of Bheri M Read More...

Australian PM calls for economic overhaul to fuel post-coronavirus recovery

Truce between employers and workers needed: PM Australia plots economic recovery Australia records just over 7,100 cases of COVID-19 Six cases from ship recently arrived from the UAE recorded SYDNEY: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday called for an ideological truc Read More...

Nepal reports highest single-day spike, Covid-19 spreads to 46 districts

KATHMANDU: Health Ministry on Tuesday confirmed 90 new cases of coronavirus infection which has taken the Covid-19 case tally to 772 in the country. This is the highest single-day total recorded in Nepal, so far. The new infections were detected through tests carried out at the National Public Read More...

Prime Minister Oli calls an all-party meeting

KATHMANDU: Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has called an all-party meeting today. The meeting has been called to discuss COVID-19 situation in the country, the government's response and the way ahead. PM Oli had addressed the nation yesterday regarding the same. In addition, it has been learnt th Read More...

NHRC calls for immediate legal action in Chaurjahari incident

KATHMANDU: National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has expressed its concern over the killing of Nawaraj BK, Tikaram Sunar and Ganesh Budha and the circumstances of three others missing in the incident in Soti of Rukum West. Issuing a press release on Tuesday, NHRC expressed its sadness over the Read More...

FIFA bans Haiti soccer official for sexual abuse allegations

ZURICH: The president of Haiti’s soccer federation has been suspended from the sport while under investigation for alleged sexual abuse of young women players at the national training center. FIFA said its ethics committee investigators removed Yves Jean-Bart from duty for 90 days. That interim Read More...

Chinese climbers scale Mt Everest

KATHMANDU: A team of rope fixing Chinese climbers today scaled the world’s highest peak opening a climbing route to the top of Mt Everest from the northern side. The team reached the top of the world at around 2:25 pm by fixing ropes above 8,300 m on Tuesday, according to a source at the ba Read More...

PUBG rules as country languishes in ever extending lockdown

KATHMANDU: Esports in Nepal is still in its infancy but given the rise of the gaming community, it’s slowly but surely gaining traction. The Nepal Olympic Association has endorsed eSports as a sporting event with events like ComCon Nepal, Hackathons, ComCOsCOn and Nepal eSports Association (NESA) Read More...