July 20, 2024, Saturday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Chure and its conservation has been a serious concern

The Nepal Weekly
June 18, 2024
Prime Minister Dahal planting tree on the occasion of 10th Chure Conservation Day

The 10th Chure Conservation Day was celebrated on Sunday by organizing a variety of programmes in Kathmandu and other places. The day is observed commemorating the formation of the President Chure-Terai Madhesh Conservation Development Committee. The Nepal Government formed the committee on Asar 2, 2071 BS (2014 AD).

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ speaking at a tree plantation programme organized on the occasion of the 10th Chure Conservation Day in Siraha, mentioned need of collaboration and cooperation among the three-tier government, local communities, and authorities in conserving the Chure region.

The Prime Minister mentioned that the conservation of the Chure is a multifaceted issue connecting to the livelihoods of Tarai-Madhesh people. He stressed the necessity of combined efforts for its preservation.

Highlighting the need to implement the 20-year Chure Tarai-Madhesh Conservation and Management Master Plan endorsed in 2074 BS, with subsequent amendments, the Prime Minister said the need for a dedicated act on the Chure conservation has been realised and the government is coordinating towards that end.

PM Dahal also urged the all three levels of Governments and all the state agencies to collect and excavate stones, gravel and sand only by conducting environmental studies in accordance with the concept of systematic physical development, taking care of the right of the future generations to live in harmony with nature there.

Spread across Nepal from Ilam in the east to Kanchanpur in the west, the Chure region falls in 37 districts of the country, with an area of 12.78 percent of the total land area.

In view of the possibility of desertification of Terai Madhesh due to over exploitation of natural resources, 164 river systems and their watersheds related to the lifestyle of about 58 percent of the 37 districts of Chure-Terai Madhesh region have been declared as sensitive and vulnerable geographical areas.

The main source of water for irrigation in the Terai and Madhesh regions is the river system flowing through the Chure and Mid-hill ranges and the underground water sources recharged by them.

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 Chure region, which occupies 12.78% of Nepal, by sustainable management and promotion of ecological services. The programme was launched after the 1st Nepalese Constitution Assembly in 2067/68 BS under the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation.

The Chure region is considered as a fragile mountain range in the Himalayas because of its young age. This region is a major source of water, ecology, and biodiversity. Sometimes, this region is also referred to as the water tower because the Terai region, where millions of people reside, depends directly on the water supplied by this region. In the recent years, the rivers in this region started to dry which possibly due to mass extraction of sand and boulders for construction works.

Thus, to protect the region, a programme was initiated with focus to reduce the possible damage by climate change and natural disasters. This is supposed to be done by implementing sustainable management of natural resources such as land, water, vegetation and biodiversity in the Chure area of Terai region. The programme also focuses on water-borne disasters. In addition, the program works with the community to increase access to firewood and fuel resources to reduce the impact in the environment.

Main objectives of the Master Plan are: (1) to mitigate the damage likely to be caused by the climate change and natural disasters through ensuring the sustainable management of the natural resources (land, water, vegetation and biodiversity) of the Chure hills (including gullies) and Bhavar region, favourable to their geological, physiographical status and ecosystems. (2) To mitigate the damage likely to be caused by the water induced disasters in the Chure hills, Dun and Terai Madhesh Landscape, and to continue the flow of the environmental services. (3) Maintain accessibility in the household use of energy, and to increase the accessibility of the residents (especially from the Terai Madhesh region) living far from the national forests, in the use of timber, wood and other energy resources.

Main programmes conducted are (a) mitigation of natural resource degradation/decline, (b) stabilization of environment and increase in productivity, (c) mitigation of climate change and water production disaster risk impacts, (d) integrated river system resource management infrastructure, (e) stabilization of upper watershed region, (f) mitigation in damage caused by river erosion and inundation, (g) development of trees outside forest, (h) extension of renewable energy-related technologies, (i) other multi sector and institutional development programme.

The programmes with inadequate budget for significant achievement, Chure could not have been conserved as thought. Thus, intensified actions should be implemented for Chure to be life line of Terai and Madhesh. Soil conservation, rain water collection which help regain the water levels in the deep borings made for irrigation, tree plantations including bamboo, grass and bushes like Vetiver should be massively carried out. The plan to excavate stone boulders and sand to sale out for petty gain must be abandoned. So as life in Teari Madhesh can be fruitful to produce better food crops.  

On the other hand, the fresh movement of the Teari people in Kathmandu should be taken as a live instant that they are suffered due to worsening status of Chure. The sit-in protest by the Chure Conservation March Group in the capital highlights a critical issue that demands immediate attention from government authorities. After a walking 25-day march from Bharadaha of Saptari to Kathmandu, the group has brought to the forefront the dire need to halt the exploitation of the Chure region. This issue is not just about conserving a landscape; it is intrinsically linked to the lives and livelihoods of the people across the Terai Madhesh region.

The recent statements mention that although the government has spent 14 billion 60 million in the name of protection and development of Chure, encroachment on Chure is increasing. According to the government’s 20-year master plan for conservation and development of Chure, there is a plan to invest 2 trillion 49 billion 72 million. It was estimated to spend 80 billion 856 million in the first five years. (The Nepal Weekly)