Budget crunch hits masterplan execution

  • Some rivers face problem of over extraction of sand, stones, whereas in others non-extraction poses risks

Kathmandu, June 27

Chairperson of President-Chure-Tarai Madhes Conservation Development Board Birendra Yadav said budgetary crunch was the main hurdle the board faced in achieving the goals of the masterplan launched two years ago to protect the Chure range.

He said the President-Chure-Tarai Madhes Conservation Development Board was supposed to get between Rs 10 and 12 billion every year to work as per the masterplan but it was currently getting less than two billion rupees.

“Due to budget crunch, the board, which was supposed to work on 64 river systems in five years, was working only on 29 river systems,” Yadav said. There are 164 river systems within the Chure range.

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As per the masterplan, the board was required to build dams, carry out plantation programmes and research flora and fauna to recommend appropriate policies to maintain equilibrium in the environment.

Degradation of the Chure range could lead to floods and desertification of the Tarai land and also the border regions of India.

Yadav said the board has involved some academic institutions to know what kind of plantation programmes it needed to introduce in the upper catchment area to prevent degradation of the range.

According to Yadav, the goals of Chure conservation could be achieved in the next 10 years provided all the key measures recommended in the masterplan were sincerely implemented. To achieve the goals of the masterplan, the government will have to implement multi-year crops plan, control wildfires and discourage human settlement in the Chure range.

Yadav said that in some rivers, over extraction of river materials such as boulders, clinkers and sand was a big problem; while in some other rivers, non-extraction of river materials was a problem as deposition of river materials in those rivers was causing risk of flooding in the Tarai region. There are only around 25 rivers in the Chure range that suffer due to over extraction of river materials.

“We need to encourage entrepreneurs to extract materials from rivers where there has been over-deposition of river materials over the years,” Yadav said.

He added that  contractors were not willing to extract materials from other rivers as they needed to build infrastructure for that, which could increase the cost of production.

“Local levels can create infrastructure and also build places to store river materials,” Yadav said.

The board is carrying out its project in 37 districts in the Chure range from Ilam in the east to Kanchanpur in the far west. A total of 12.78 per cent land is covered by the Chure range in Nepal.

Chure conservation expert Vijay Kumar Singh said budget crunch and lack of political will were the main challenges that needed to be tackled if the goals of Chure conservation were to be achieved. “As per the masterplan, Rs 10 to 12 billion has to be spent, but the government is not providing more than Rs 1.75 billion to the project,” he said.

Singh said land use policy that could prohibit people from farming in the hilly areas should be implemented sincerely.

“But the parties lack political will to conserve the Chure range. Besides, the government is trying to build highways through the Chure range which could encourage migration along the highways and eventually increase challenges to conservation of the Chure range in the long term,” he added.