Birgunj, December 11

Residents of Raxaul on the Indian side along the Nepal-India border started a sit-in saying that clinkers entering Nepal had caused air pollution.

The protest has halted import of goods to Nepal. Locals launched the sit-in at the entry route to Birgunj from Indian railway’s Raxaul yard from today morning.

The locals on the Indian side obstructed the supply to Nepal to press the railway to control the adverse impact on the health of people stemming from the dust coming from loading and unloading the tinkers. Clean Raxaul campaign has warned it will obstruct the supply to the Nepali side indefinitely.

Birgunj Chapter of Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that import of raw materials including clinkers, coal, slag, iron ore and gypsum was halted from Raxaul via Birgunj to Nepal.

FNNCI Birgunj Chairman Pradip Kumar Kedia said that residents on the Indian side had staged the sit-in at the route leading to the railway godown through Dankan Hospital.

Around 20 locals are staging the sit-in. Ranjit Kumar Singh, Clean Raxaul Campaign’s founder said that they would give continuity to the sit-in unless their demands were met.

Local leaders of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata party and Bihar’s ruling party Rastriya Janata Dal have thrown their weight behind the protest.

Locals on the Indian side said that contaminated air stemming from dirty cargo entering Nepal had adversely affected the health of people. Residents of Raxaul had been agitating against air pollution for the past ten years. They said that they were forced to stage the sit-in as the government had turned a blind eye to their demand.

Following the halt of imports, national importers today urged Parsa CDO to settle the problem and allow uninterrupted supply of goods to Nepal.

Parsa CDO Keshavraj Ghimire said that he had written to Raxaul’s SDM to resume the supply to Nepal. He informed that the process would start from tomorrow as today was public holiday in India.

Nepali importers argue that it is wrong to halt the supply to Nepal to press the Indian railway.

Local importers led by FNNCI Birgunj are planning to meet the concerned Indian officials tomorrow. The sit-in will hit many industries including cement factories in Bara and Parsa.

Over a dozen cement factories import clinkers from Raxaul-Birgunj border point for cement production.