Pokhara, March 15
Nepal has proposed that its successful community forestry management programme be taken up by all SAARC member-states as it has received worldwide fame and acclamation in this regard.
Nepal, as the incumbent Chair of SAARC, floated this idea during the regional bloc’s 52nd Programming Committee meeting that concluded in Pokhara today.
“We would like to gift this programme and we are ready to share our experience, expertise and know-how in community forestry management with our fellow SAARC members,” said Mani Prasad Bhattarai, who had chaired the PC meeting attended by joint-secretaries of all SAAARC countries, namely, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
This was the first of three-tier meeting of the ongoing 37th Session of SAARC Council of Ministers in the Lake City.
“It has not only protected our environment and ecosystem, but also generated income and widespread accolade,” he added. “Why can’t we expand this project in the entire region.”
Almost 14,000 forests are being managed by the local community in Nepal.
Nepal also proposed engaging SAARC observers including China, EU, US and South Korea, to implement this project across the region.
The PC meeting also stressed making SAARC regional bodies such as South Asian University (SAU) and SAARC Development Fund more inclusive, while appointing staffers and faculties and to give the due share of all member-states. It has also endorsed a proposal for starting under-graduate courses under the SAU.
During the meeting, all member-states decided to discuss formation of the regional planning commission to plan and coordinate all developmental activities under the framework of SAARC.
Similarly, the meeting also stressed on tackling the menace of terrorism and illegal trade of narcotic drugs and contraband substances by setting up an effective mechanism.
According to Bhattarai, the meeting also emphasised that all member-states rectify the regional act to combat terrorism. It can be recalled that some member countries, including Pakistan have not rectified the act.
The PC, however, fell short of taking up the much talked about SAARC Motor Vehicle and Railway Service agreements, which were pledged to be inked within three months of the last Summit held in Kathmandu in November 2014.
Bhattarai told The Himalayan Times that this issue would be discussed during the Standing Committee meeting to be led by foreign secretaries of the regional body tomorrow.
Meanwhile, foreign secretaries of all SAARC countries, including India’s S Jaishankar arrived in Pokhara for tomorrow’s meeting, which will consider the reports submitted by the PC and finalise the agenda for the ministerial meeting to be held on Thursday.
Foreign Secretary Shankar Das Bairagi of Nepal today hosted a dinner reception in honour of all his regional counterparts.
According to an official, Foreign Secretary Bairagi and his Indian counterpart Jaishankar held an informal meeting during the reception.
A version of this article appears in print on March 16, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.