Former President Dr Ram Baran Yadav, who has been stressing the need for preserving the Chure hills right from the time he assumed the high office in 2008 as he is very familiar with the consequences of deforestation and soil erosion in the Chure hills, is not happy with the performance of the government regarding Chure conservation.
He is of the firm belief that protection of the Chure hills is essential to keep life in the Terai region safe, which he reiterated during his on-site visit under the President Chure Conservation Programme the other day. He rightly stressed the need for the effective enforcement of the laws relating to Chure conservation to stop deforestation in the region and highlighted the importance of Chure preservation to conserve the water sources and protect the fertile lands of the Terai.
Obviously, the Chure hills are the lifeline of the people residing in the Terai, providing water and other essential resources. However, the excessive exploitation of the resources, mostly the trees and stones, by the illegal quarries operating here has put the entire region at high risk of desertification. The landslides in the Chure cause massive floods, damaging the paddy fields and settlements in the Terai. The government has failed to implement some of the measures it introduced to control the operation of stone quarries and export of stones in the past.
The nexus between the business people engaged in exporting stones to India and law-enforcement authorities is often blamed for the continued exploitation of the Chure. The resources of these hills are supplied to the local markets as well as India. Therefore, there is an urgent need to save the Chure hills by formulating and implementing additional laws. If we fail to save the Chure in time, we will be helpless when natural calamities strike as a result of the destruction of these hills.
Excessive extraction of natural resources has put the fragile Chure range—spanning over 36 districts and accounting for 12.6 percent of country’s total area—on the brink of an environmental disaster. Excessive extraction of sand, boulders and stones are causing desertification. Water sources are drying up, causing great inconvenience to the locals for irrigating the lands and conducting other agriculture related works.
The cases of flooding have increased every year and rampant extraction of resources in this region has been ascribed as the cause of massive flooding in the plains. Chure serves as a lifeline to sustain Nepal’s eco-system both up in the hills and the mountains and the areas in the plains. If extraction continues at this rate, a vast majority of people living in the plains will have to suffer the consequence.
The Oli government proved its mettle by dismantling transport syndicates and it has been rightly appreciated for this. It has set a good precedent that with one single bold move even the strong nexus of illegal actors can be broken. Similar bold and result-oriented intervention is now required for Chure. Not only our ecology, but the livelihood of millions is at stake.