We are at a serious juncture where environmental problems are spiralling in dangerous proportion and related consciousness has fallen low or got suppressed to the inferior level. That is why our development projects treat the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) just a ritual for formality, and in some instances, the idea is disregarded and discarded at all. Existing tree lines are eliminated on the pretext of road expansion and the damage done to the source of fresh air and cool shade is never compensated with re-plantation. Tree plantation activities get news coverage during special occasion like World Environment Day where important persons plant saplings in the glare of TV cameras. Once the ritual is done, necessary follow-ups rarely happen to ensure the care taking and full growth of the planted trees. The government plan in paper has made it necessary for every office to plant and grow trees within its premises. But one should not be surprised if s/he finds a government or corporation office without trees. Vanishing greenery, rise of concrete jungle and over population has made our cities and towns hotter every other day. Massive diggings are taking place in the former green patches in the city and the suburbs by real estate agents and developers. Creation of greenery and tree hedges has not been made the essential component of road construction. Rural road builders never give a thought to avoid areas with dense forests and water sources. In the plains, the rampant mining of sand, stones and soil and deforestation in the Chure range has pushed the crucial environment into the process of desertification. The young Siwalik foothills have turned barren and dry in absence of crucial green cover. As a result, soil erosion, landslides, siltation and monsoon flooding have increased to calamitous levels. Communities living in the vicinity of the Chure range have witnessed the sudden drying up of water sources in recent years. Water sources to provide irrigation to the Terai farmlands have depleted.
Crusher industries, cement factories and sand mining ventures have flourished but these industries are not made to take measures to put pollution and public health hazards at the minimum. It seems that commercial lobbies are influencing government policies, inviting an unfavourable situation for public health and ecology. This may be the reason why strict requirements for EIA for all development projects get lower priority. If the rule is implemented at all, it is done just for the sake of formality rather than for intended outcomes. Stinking industrial effluence coming out in open drains is a common sight in our factories and plants. Green belt of the capital’s Ring Road is vanishing due to rampant commercial encroachment and tree felling. No government authority is taking vigilance of such environmentally destructive activities. Fertile plots of land have been developed into housing plots. This is counterproductive in terms of environmental health and food security. Digging of the roads in the capital for laying water supply pipes has multiplied the dust hazards. Old and badly maintained vehicles cause a toll on public health by sending tiny dust particles and adding black fume into the air. This explains why we have more sick people and hotter days. Local activities have accumulating effect on the global warming which is already causing disastrous happenings.
Narayan Kaji Shrestha is the secretariat member and spokesperson of the ruling Nepal Communist Party. Although he had staked his claim to the post of...