As the country today celebrated World Environment Day with the slogan 'Restoring ecosystem and raising awareness', Nepal's civil society and environmentalists criticised the government's recent decision to exploit the Chure area.

Last week, Finance Minister Bishnu Paudel, announcing the budget for fiscal year 2021-22, had said that the government would export boulders, gravel, sand and other river-borne materials to neighbouring countries. A desperate move, taken by the government in a bid to reduce the ever increasing trade deficit in the country. The government's decision has been receiving widespread criticism from all corners including, environmental stakeholders, political parties and members of civil society.

The National Human Right Commission, which held a virtual meeting today with various environmental stakeholders, have said that uncontrolled excavation will bring more destruction in the country than prosperity. The participants said that rampant excavation of boulders, gravel and sand from the fragile Chure will dry the entire Tarai region.

The excavation will also increase chances of flash floods, floods, landslide, drought and other natural calamities.

Issuing a press release, the NHRC said, "We request the government to stop uncontrolled exploitation of natural resources and stop environmental pollution by introducing more effective programmes."

Chure, which comprises around 13 per cent of the total territory of the country, has been declared a conservation zone since June 2014. Any kind of activity resulting in deforestation, wildlife loss and excavation of minerals and aggregates is prohibited here.

The President Chure Conservation Programme Coordination Unit was established to implement the rule introduced to protect Chure under various departments of the Ministry of Forest in 26 districts.

Chure extends as a contiguous landscape from east to west in 33 districts which have an abundance of composition of unconsolidated loose materials. This is the first and lowest ridge of the Himalayan mountain system.

A version of this article appears in the print on June 6, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.