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E-petitioners grow in number to protect CNP

- PRAGATI SHAHI, KATHMANDU

Mar 27, 2014-Online petition against proposed postal road and a railway through the Chitwan National Park is snowballing with thousands of people from around the world registering their disapproval of the projects announced by the Nepal government early this year.      

As of Wednesday, the petition “Save Tigers and Rhinos in Chitwan National Park” created by Animal Nepal, an NGO, had collected over 60,000 signatures on (thepetitionsite.com). The petition addressed to Prime Minister, Ministers of Finance, Roads and Forests aims to stop the government from constructing the proposed postal highway and East-West electric railway line cutting through the park, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and respect the privacy of the conserved wildlife and conserve their habitat. CNP serves as an importan habitat for one-horned rhinoceros, endangered Bengal tiger and numerous wildlife.  

The two projects under the government’s national development priority have drawn wide criticisms from different quarters, including conservationists, animal welfare activists and policy makers.  

Many people working in the field of wildlife conservation have voiced their concerns about the threat the projects will have on the safety of the protected animals and their habitats inside the CNP.   

The planned construction of a highway and a railway track, cutting through CNP, would severely threaten the existence of important wildlife and bird species causing an irreparable impact, they have said.  

Margaret Ayton, a petitioner from the United Kingdom has said the decision of Nepal government contradicts the very concept of wildlife conservation, and that building the road and rail line through CNP would change the way how the world sees Nepal.     

The petitioners have urged the government and the authorities to conserve protected lands and habitats of wildlife from unsustainable developmental plans that are threatening the whole tourism sector for which Nepal’s protected areas are famous in the international arena.

Earlier this month, Mahesh Acharya, the minister for Forests and Soil Conservation, had pointed out the urgency to protect the fragile environment from developmental works planned in this sector, and look out for alternatives sustainable to the existing environment.  Acharya’s call came at a time when the Ministry of Physical Planning and Works decided to start the construction without even conducting the Environmental Impact Assessment, said Kamal Jung Kunwar, CNP chief warden.

Published: 27-03-2014 08:26

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