Leaders of opposition parties have opposed the government's move to allow export of natural resources, including stones, pebbles and sand.

Point no. 199 of the annual budget for the fiscal 2021-22 recently unveiled by the Minister of Finance Bishnu Prasad Paudel states that trade deficit will be reduced through export of mineral-based construction materials such as stones, pebbles and sand as per Environmental Impact Assessment. The government has also granted customs duty waiver on construction materials for ropeway.

It will be extended from the industries to the point of export for transportation of mineral-based products.

Nepali Congress leader Gagan Thapa termed it a policy corruption committed by the KP Sharma Oli-led government through the annual budget.

"This unconstitutional government has exposed its ugly face by incorporating the provision for export of natural resources of the country in the budget, that too by bringing it illegally through ordinance. This is policy corruption," he wrote on his Twitter page today. It shows how insensitive this government is regarding protection of the environment and the Chure region.

NC leader and former finance minister Mahesh Acharya called on the provincial and local governments to protest against the federal government's decision granting permission for the export of river products. "If this decision comes into force, it may cause ecological disaster in the Chure region as well as in the cross-border areas due to excessive exploitation of natural resources. I call on the sub-national governments to exert pressure on the federal government to roll back this decision," he said.

Acharya urged the chief minister and chiefs of local levels of Province 2 to hold discussion with people in a bid to avert environmental crisis in the future.

"The destruction of Chure region will convert the fertile land of Province 2 into a desert," he warned.

Chairperson of Janata Samajbadi Party-Nepal Upendra Yadav condemned the provision of the budget and labelled it as an anti-national move. "The government intends to destroy the Chure region and cause ecological disaster through the annual budget on the pretext of reducing the trade deficit.

It will lead to desertification of the fertile land of Madhes," he said in a press statement.

Yadav also warned the government to withdraw this decision from the budget.

Former prime minister and Chairperson of NCP-MC Pushpa Kamal Dahal demanded that the anti-national and anti-people decision be withdrawn without delay to prevent desertification in the Tarai. "This government is playing anti-national and anti-people tactics to prolong its power. This decision is guided by the government's premeditated plan to turn the land of Tarai into desert," he wrote on his Facebook account.

Former prime minister and Chair of the Federal Council of Janata Samajwadi Party- Nepal Baburam Bhattarai, Rastriya Janamorcha Nepal Chairperson Chitra Bahadur KC, among other political parties, have also condemned the government's move.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Finance has defended the government's decision. Issuing a press statement, the ministry said the government was committed to protecting and conserving the Chure region.

"The government will make necessary provisions to enhance the export of natural construction materials without causing environmental impacts on the region and people by formulating and implementing directives, procedures, standards and polices as per the suggestions of experts," the statement reads.

A version of this article appears in the print on June 3, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.