Statue project in dispute

  • The construction of the statue will ruin the birds’ habitat. Jagadishpur Lake will soon be a history: Baral
Authorities plan a 60-foot Buddha’s edifice in the middle of Jagadishpur Lake without permission and environment impact assessment

Dec 16, 2018-Kapilvastu Municipality and the Jagadishpur Lake Management Forum are preparing to construct a 60-foot tall Buddha statue in Jagadishpur Lake, Kapilvastu, by ignoring the due process required to build any constructions at a site that has been enlisted in the Ramsar Wetlands List.

The forum and the local unit are planning to install the statue in the middle of the lake and build other infrastructures to promote tourism. In a meeting held last week, the forum decided to start the construction soon, but they have neither taken permission from Ramsar nor carried out environment impact assessment.

To build any constructions in the site that is included in the Ramsar Wetlands List, one has to get permission from the Ramsar Secretariat. Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation is the Ramsar’s representative in the national level while Division Forest Office is Ramsar’s local representative.

As per the existing legal provision, the department can grant permission for any constructions in the wetland site through the division office.

However, an official at the department told the Post that they have not granted a permission for any constructions in the Jagadishpur lake.

Jagadishpur lake, an artificial lake constructed for the purpose of irrigation, was recognised as the Ramsar wetlands site in August 2003. The lake is spread over an area of 157 hectares in Kapilvastu Municipality. According to conservationists, 167 different species of birds are found in the lake. Every winter, birds migrate to Jagadishpur from Siberia, China, Russia, Mongolia, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan and stay until February. More than 22,000 birds including Gadwall, Leaser Whistling duck, Tufted duck, Ferruginous duck, Northern pintail, Northern shoveler, Eurasian Wigeon, Common Pochard and Cotton Pygmy-goose were counted in the lake last year.

Meanwhile, the conservationists are concerned over the growing encroachment of the lake in recent times.

 “Earlier, they decided to operate boats. Now, the statue is being constructed,” said conservationist Raju Acharya. “The number of birds in the lake has decreased lately due to the boat operation. The department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation should take immediate action to stop the encroachment.”

The ward No 9 and 10 of Kapilvastu Municipality has been operating six boats in the lake for the past three months.

According to ornithologist Hem Sagar Baral, various water birds will certainly be disturbed with the increasing human activity in the lake. “The construction of the statue will ruin the birds’ habitat. Jagadishpur Lake, a safe haven for birds, will soon be a history,” said Baral.

The provincial government has allocated Rs 20 million budget while the federal government has provided Rs 1.5 million for the development of the lake. Along with the statue, the forum has decided to construct a bio-diversity park, a tower and some buildings around the lake to utilise the budget.

“Sculptors recently inspected the area to build the statue. We will install the statue in the lake at any cost,” said Shiva Bahadur Wagle, the ward chairman of Kapilvastu-9.

A raised platform of about 70 feet circumference was constructed in the lake around six months ago to install the statue.

Published: 16-12-2018 07:51

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