Environment Protection Council inactive for 18 years

Kathmandu, June 12

Although the Environment Protection Act-1997 requires holding at least one meeting of Environment Protection Council a year, such a meeting has not been held for the last 18 years.

The Environment Protection Act-1997 was formulated to address environmental issues, but the council has remained inactive so far.

The highly ambitious council includes prime minister as its ex-officio chair and ten other ministers as members. It was formed with the aim of keeping environmental concerns at the forefront of policy makers.

A former joint secretary of the ministry said most ministers don’t even know of the existence of the council.

In 2008, the then Environment, Science, and Technology minister Ganesh Sah had attempted to hold its meeting but failed due to logistic issues. “I had attempted to restructure the council with the environment minister as its chair, but then prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal could not manage time, and the endeavour failed,” Shah said.

Spokesperson at the Ministry of Population and Environment Laxmi Kumari Basnet said she was also unaware of the existence of the council.

The council was active when it was first formed in 1993 by then Ministry of Forest and Environment.

Surya Man Shakya, then member secretary, said, “The council was powerful then, and during my two years’ tenure I called four council meetings, where it was decided that a separate environment ministry would be established within two years.”

Shakya added that the four meetings were chaired by two former prime ministers — Girija Prasad Koirala and Manmohan Adhikari.