chure conservation: Minister hints at Army deployment

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu
chure conservation: Minister hints at Army deployment

Jun 1, 2014-

Minister for Forests and Soil Conservation Mahesh Acharya has hinted at the possibility of Army deployment for Chure conservation if the demand for it comes from a national-level consultation of stakeholders.

At an interaction organised by the Nepal Forum of Environment Journalists on Sunday, Acharya said it was possible to deploy Nepal Army personnel in some pocket areas of Chure region that are being degraded by deforestation and illegal extraction of natural resources.

The statement comes a day after the Federation of Community Forestry Users’ Nepal (Fecofun) that comprises some 16,000 forest user groups warned that Army deployment would be counterproductive as it would discourage communities to take up forest management.

They have blamed the failure to effectively implement the Rastrapati Chure Conservation Programme by involving local communities that have been managing forests in the low-elevation belt between the Tarai and the Hills extending from Jhapa in the east to Kanchanpur in the west for the sorry state of nature conservation there.

The multi-million-rupee project launched in 2010 has been criticised for its failure to check rampant deforestation, excessive extraction of boulders, sand and gravel in the strip that accounts for 12.6 percent of the country’s total land area.

Uncontrolled exploitation of resources is feared to be inviting environmental disasters and leading to Chure’s desertification.

Acharya stressed the need for a high-powered authority to implement the Chure programme. “Given the present ecological state, a national debate is necessary for coming up with measures to conserve Chure, Bhawar and Tarai regions,” the minister said.

He suggested that the government make sure, while signing agreements

on forest-related projects, that donors specify their priorities.

The ministry is said to be working to restructure the Chure conservation programme to ensure the participation of all concerned such as government entities and communities.

Rameshwor Khanal, former finance secretary, is of the view that the Chure

programme under the patronage of President Ram Baran Yadav was launched to reverse forest degradation by involving a number of stakeholders. Khanal charged that instead of working jointly on the field the project seemed accountable only to the President.

Published: 02-06-2014 11:26

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