The Presidents paid enough attentions on environment and climate issues
By Purna N. Ranjitkar
The low hills range in the south above the plains is Chure while the heightened plains in Chure are called Bhawar. The Chure range also known as Shiwalikis extended from Indus river of Pakistan in the west and Bharamaputra of India in the east. This hill region was formed by the deposition of the river products around 40 million years ago. The Chure range in Nepal spreads across Ilam in the east to Kanchanpur in the west. That is all along the eastern border to the western border of the country. The region covers around 12.78 per cent of 37 districts in total. As this area is made up of the fluvial sedimentary rocks which is not fully adjusted and all the rivers and rivulets from Mahabharat range flow from this area to the Terai, which is naturally much sensitive area.
After the eradication of malaria, human settlements were expanding in Chure and Bhawar areas. Thereafter, rapid deforestation took place to develop for cultivation. Deforestation, overuse of forest products, open grazing, unscientific land use, etc. have led to a decline in the biodiversity and land productivity of the region, which has had a negative impact on the overall ecosystem of the region. As the condition of water bodies in the Chure Hills and Bhawar region is deteriorating, many environmental problems appeared in Terai-Madhesh and water resources are also started drying. Most of the annual floods are due to the accumulation of sand and silt in the arable lands of the TeraiMadhes and the erosion and inundation of the villages.
The Chure region as a whole, the common problem that comes up the most is the presence of illegal settlements in the region. From east to west the number of illegal settlements propping up along the highway has led to increased populations which has increased the need for basic necessities thus making the resources available in the area and businesses scarce.
This upturn in numbers but downturn in resources and business has led to the people of the area suffering tremendously. People living in Chure, especially the one living in the lower riverside areas, suffer the most, authorities involved explain.
If this is not stopped in time, the ecosystem of the Chure region will become more vulnerable and the people’s life in the Terai-Madhesh may become even more critical. About 50 percent of the total population of Nepal lives in Terai Madhes. With this in mind, the Government of Nepal launched the ‘Presidential Chure Conservation Program’ from the Fiscal Year 2066/67 to conduct Chure Conservation as a campaign. As the work of Chure Conservation is a multi-dimensional, multi-faceted and multi-stakeholder issue, the Government of Nepal has exercised the right given by Article 3 of the Development Committee Act 2013 to conduct it in a coordinated manner. (Formation) Order 2071 “was issued. Government of Nepal has constituted President Chure Terai-Madhesh Conservation Development Board to carry out activities to conserve Chure range in Nepal. It is notable programme is “Chure soil to Chure, clean water to all”
President Chure-Terai Madhesh Conservation Area Programme is one of the National Pride Projects initiated by the Government of Nepal. The aim of the program is to conserve the natural resources of the Chure range by sustainable management and promotion of ecological services.
Conservation of Chure Region has been discussed since the Fourth Five Year Plan (1970-75). Earlier discussions were confined to protecting forest areas and managing watersheds. However, concerns with regard to the misappropriation of the region as a whole came to the fore when the first president of Republic of Nepal, Dr. Ram BaranYadav showed his worries about the impact of Chure’s destruction on the Tarai. His concerns were mainly on the increasing incidents of draught and devastating floods in, and gradual desertification of, the lowland areas. This led Government of Nepal to launch “Rastrapati Chure Tarai Madhesh Conservation Programme” in 2010. However, the stakeholders, such as forest user groups and ethnic communities have criticized the programme on various grounds.
Last year at a programme in Chure area, President Bidya Devi Bhandari said that the Chure conservation activities would also help creation of jobs at local levels. She also mentioned that the Chure region is not only the habitat of varieties of wild animals but also the mine of plants and medicinal herbs. It is the region that has the source of irrigation water, she added.
President Bhandari further added that conservation of Chure region helps prevent Tarai-Madhes from natural disaster. She urged the newly elected local representatives to forward development activities taking into account the rights of people and environmental degradation. Extraction of natural resources as pebbles and sand should not jeopardize environment, she made aware.
It is worth mention that the government formed after the second Constituent Assembly election of 2013 realized that the degradation of Chure was multifaceted in nature. Therefore, it required a political intervention and an integrated approach to tackle the problems effectively. To this end, the government declared the entire Chure Region as a conservation area according to the Environment Protection Act, 1996. A high-level “President Chure-Tarai Madhesh Conservation Development Committee” (PCTMCDC) was formed in 2014. As per the mandate of the Development Committee Act, 1956, the committee was to oversee and coordinate the management, utilization and conservation of the Chure resources in an integrated manner.