THT 10 YEARS AGO: In Press censorship, Nepal on top: RSF

Kathmandu, January 4, 2006

Nepal tops the list of nations with highest instances of press censorship and China tops the list in the number of journalists kept in prison, says the annual report on press freedom published today by the Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF). The report enlists 567 cases of censorship in Nepal, which is more than half the number of cases reported globally. A total of 1,006 cases of censorship were recorded during 2005. Compare this with preceding year which saw only 622 cases. “The big rise was mostly due to the situation in Nepal, where more than half (567) of all cases worldwide were recorded. Since the state of emergency declared by King Gyanendra on February 1, the media has been getting a battering. This has included a ban on FM radio stations broadcasting news, blocking of websites, seizure of equipment and politically-inspired distribution of government advertising,” the report stated. When it comes to the cases of physical attacks and threats, Bangladesh and Nepal are on top of the list. “More than 1,300 physical attacks and threats were recorded by RSF during the year — more than in the previous one,” the report said. The report stated that at least 63 journalists were killed in 2005 while doing their job or for expressing their opinions, the highest annual toll since 1995. Iraq remains the most dangerous country for the third consecutive year with 24 journalists and five media assistants having been killed there. According to the report, two journalists were killed in Nepal. China is still the world’s biggest prison for journalists with 32 journalists being kept in jail this year.

Pollution endangering Fewa lake

Pokhara, January 4, 2006

The continued existence of Fewa lake is in doubt as pollution increases due to the emptying of sewers in it. Despite different conservation projects and studies being carried out to conserve the lake, blithe apathy of the concerned authorities towards their implementation is responsible its dismal state.

Officials from Pokhara sub-metropolis, District development Committee, Kaski, and Pokhara Valley Town Development Committee had agreed to take initiatives for the conservation of the lake, on paper, years ago. Environmentalists and tourism entrepreneurs have been calling for the diversion of the sewers and canals away from the lake. Chairman of Pokhara Tourism Council, Ganesh Bahadur Bhattarai, also highlighted the need to do the same to conserve the lake.

Sewers from Pokhara Camping Site, Barahi Ghat and Dam site are emptied into the Fewa Lake. A 42-km-long sewer passage that was constructed with the help of Rs 190 million in assistance from Asian Development Bank in 1997 is also linked to the Fewa Lake, Chairman of DDC,Kaski, Ramesh Bahadur Bhattarai, said.