The government has made it clear that the policy of exporting aggregates to reduce trade deficit mentioned in the budget for fiscal year 2021-22 has nothing to do with the Chure area.

The government clarified that pebbles, gravel and sand to be exported would be excavated only from 92 quarries of 14 districts which have already been identified by the Department of Mines and Geology.

Point No 199 of the recently released budget has mentioned that trade deficit will be reduced by exporting pebbles, gravel and sand on the basis of environmental impact assessment.

Stating that attempts have been made to politicise this provision in the budget in the name of Chure though point 199 of the budget has not mentioned about Chure, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Bishnu Prasad Poudel said that there would not be any interference in the Chure ecology.

He expressed commitment that the government would not compromise on protection of Chure area.

At a virtual programme organised today by Nepal Forum of Environmental Journalists, Finance Minister Poudel said the government would not carry out any activity beyond constitutional and legal provisions.

Similarly, Finance Secretary Shishir Dhungana said that different countries of the world had made progress by exporting goods available with them and its trade.

President Chure Tarai Madhes Conservation Development Committee Chairperson Kiran Poudel said that post-budget discussions and arguments on the government's policy had further clarified the matter that the policy was not related to quarrying in the Chure area.

Chure area occupies 12.78 per cent of the total area of the country. It sprawls across 37 districts and stretches from Ilam district in the eastern part of the country to Kanchanpur in the west.

Secretary at the Ministry of Forest and Environment Prem Narayan Kandel said that the government's policy of excavation and export of sand, soil, gravel and other aggregates had nothing to do with the Chure area. According to him the Chure area did not have quality stones worthy of export either.

Department of Mines Director General Ram Prasad Ghimire opined that excavation of raw construction materials would best be quarried from the mines than rivers. According to him, excavation of minerals from 92 identified mines would fetch the government more revenue than those from rivers.

The government in 2014 had identified 92 mines in Dhankuta, Morang in the east to Chitwan and Makawanpur in the central part of the country to Surkhet, Doti, Dadeldhura among others, in the west.

A version of this article appears in the print on June 10, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.