Taplejung, April 17:

The Kanchanjunga Conservation Area Project (KCAP), which had remained stalled for 17 months, resumed its work from Saturday. The Maoists had vandalised the office of the project and set it on fire on December 29, 2004.

They had prohibited people from entering the office since then. According to a staff, the project resumed due to pressure from the local people.

The Maoists unlocked its central office and four branch offices unconditionally, said chairperson of the Project Management Council, Dawa Tshiring Sherpa.

The KCAP covers Lelep, Tapechowk, Yamphudin and Olangchungola VDCs. The central office is located at Lelep VDC while there are branch offices at Tapechowk, Yamphudin, Olang-chungola and Lelep VDCs. Various local organisations and intellectuals had urged the Maoists to create an environment conducive for opening the project. Journalists and intellectuals met the Maoists and urged them to create an environment for the resumption of the project.

Illegal activities like destruction of forest, smuggling of valuable medicinal herbs and wildlife had increased after Maoists prevented the staff of the project from entering the project area.

The project was launched in 1997 with an objective of conserving and promoting long-term development. Situated at an altitude between 1200 to 8585 metres above sea level, the KCAP covers an area of 2035 square kilometres.