River mining halted after protest

Ramechhap, August 8

In the wake of mounting public pressure, authorities in Manthali Municipality, Ramechhap, have stopped excavation work in the Tamakoshi River.

Earlier, political parties, civil society, journalists  and locals had protested Mayor Ramesh Kumar Basnet’’s move allowing a private sand processing company to extract river materials at Ranajor Dobhan in the river to clear excess silt deposited in the riverbed.

As the protest built up, the municipality reverted on its decision. After a directive from the local administration, excavation was halted.

Chief District Officer Krishna Prasad Sharma called an all party meeting to discuss the issue. Speaking at the meeting, Mayor Basnet argued that the decision to let a private company carry out mining in the river was taken in view of the possibility of excess silt deposition on the riverbed, posing risk of floods upstream. “There was no ulterior motive,” he claimed.

“The government rule clearly bans excavation of river products for three months from mid-June, so allowing a select company to harvest river products for whatsoever reason speaks of something else,” argued Raj Kumar Shrestha, an entrepreneur who deals with river products. “If it is just about clearing silt at the riverbed, why not allow other companies as well?” he asked.