China’s Everest road plan draws experts’ flak

Kathmandu/New Delhi, June 20:

China’s plan to build a highway on the side of Mount Everest today drew sharp criticism from experts in Nepal and India.

Country representative of WWF Nepal Anil Manandhar said in Kathmandu that China’s plan to construct the highway is the result of the country’s total disregard to the world’s tallest mountain and its environmental and cultural values.

China’s state media on Wednesday said that the country plans to build a highway on the side of Mt Everest to pave way for the Olympic torch’s journey to the peak of the world’s tallest mountain.

“China’s idea of reaching the mountain top by road is a foolish one and driven by a total disregard to world environment,” Manandhar said. He added that road at the sacred and serene area would usher in human activities that will cause an irreparable damage to the atmosphere on the mountains, which is already suffering from pollution.

“I cannot believe it. I don’t know whether it was a government policy or some enthusiastic development worker just wanted to see the world react to the idea.”

Spokesperson for the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology Khumraj Punjali said it is too early to comment on the plan. In New Delhi, experts and analysts voiced serious concern about the highway plan. They said the proposed road would invite pollution and result in the collapse of the eco-system.

Professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Dr SD Muni, said Nepal should worry more about the adverse effects the road would have on the country.

Secretary of the Indian Mountaineering Federation PC Rautila said rare and endangered flora and fauna are already under threat in the fragile eco-system and the road would make matters worse.

A senior official of India’s Centre for Policy Research said all countries should protest the move.

Meanwhile, sources in the Indian capital said Chinese authorities in charge of the project are likely to hold talks with Nepal on the project.