Devel­op­ment vs. en­vi­ron­ment

People's Review - - COMMENTARY - PR PRAD­HAN push­para­jprad­[email protected]

The fun­da­men­tal the­ory of some of the Western coun­tries which want eco­nomic hege­mony over the un­der­de­vel­oped na­tions, is to keep such na­tions un­der the poverty line al­ways. And our south­ern neigh­bour In­dia, which has ex­pe­ri­enced the pain un­der the British colo­nial rule, wants her small neigh­bour­ing na­tions poor all the time so that she will be able to en­joy an eco­nomic hege­mony over these coun­tries. If any un­der­de­vel­oped coun­try wants devel­op­ment, she should be able to avoid ar­ti­fi­cial hur­dles cre­ated by those coun­tries who want eco­nomic hege­mony. In Nepal's case, if one will go through those po­ten­tial projects, strong op­po­si­tion was wit­nessed when the World Bank was about to start con­struc­tion of the Arun 3 project some three decades ago. Those "dol­lar farm­ers" were so strong that they were able to ma­nip­u­late the then UML gen­eral sec­re­tary Mad­hav Nepal to work with them. Nepal had writ­ten a let­ter to the World Bank chair­man to post­pone the project. Fi­nally, when se­ri­ous con­tro­versy sur­faced at the po­lit­i­cal level, the World Bank de­cided to with­draw its hands from the Arun Project. The beauty of the Arun 3 project was that Ja­pan and Ger­man had be­come ready to fund the project at very nom­i­nal in­ter­est rates. Due to the can­cel­la­tion of the project, Nepal al­ways suf­fered from load-shed­ding prob­lem. Dur­ing that time, small and medium size tur­bine man­u­fac­tur­ers from Europe and spe­cially the In­di­ans had spent bil­lions of ru­pees on Nepali "en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivists" who were known to be the "dol­lar farm­ers". We also saw strong op­po­si­tion dur­ing the time of im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Kali­gan­daki hy­dropower project. Lo­cals in the project area who were alert from the fate of the Arun Project, had fed grass to those "dol­lar farm­ers" when they were mak­ing ef­forts to pro­voke the lo­cals to op­pose the project. The govern­ment is all set to con­struct an in­ter­na­tional air­port in Ni­j­gadh. The govern­ment is con­struct­ing a fast-track road from Kath­mandu to Nji­gadh and it is ex­pected to be com­pleted within four years. Con­sid­er­ing the air-traf­fic pres­sure at the Trib­hu­van In­ter­na­tional Air­port, Nepal needs an al­ter­nate in­ter­na­tional air­port close to the cap­i­tal city Kath­mandu as soon as pos­si­ble. There is no al­ter­nate to Ni­j­gadh as af­ter years of study Ni­j­gadh was lo­cated not to­day but decades ago as the place where a sec­ond in­ter­na­tional air­port has to be con­structed. Un­for­tu­nately, the so-called en­vi­ron­men­tal ex­perts, who were in deep sleep for decades, have wo­ken-up now and started to protest against the Ni­j­gadh air­port project. They are sug­gest­ing the govern­ment to change the venue as a huge num­ber of trees are go­ing to be chopped away which will cre­ate an en­vi­ron­men­tal haz­ard in many as­pects. De­for­esta­tion is a se­ri­ous prob­lem in Nepal. Land mafias and for­est mafias are chop­ping trees all over the coun­try. The "en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivists" have re­mained silent on such a mas­sive level de­for­esta­tion in as­so­ci­a­tion with the po­lit­i­cal lead­ers. The po­lit­i­cal lead­ers are tak­ing de­ci­sions to en­croach for­est ar­eas for new set­tle­ments. In such de­ci­sions also, those "ac­tivists" have re­mained silent. Even in Ni­j­gadh area, the peo­ple have en­croached for­est land and con­structed houses. On this also, those "ac­tivists" are silent. Even if the Ni­j­gadh air­port is not con­structed, surely, the trend of il­le­gal de­for­esta­tion will not be stopped as mafias are stronger than the govern­ment. With­out im­ple­men­ta­tion of strong laws and strong reg­u­la­tions against them by the govern­ment, the trend of de­for­esta­tion is not go­ing to be stopped. There­fore, those "ac­tivists" have to put pres­sure to the govern­ment for strong laws and heavy pun­ish­ment against those crim­i­nals must be re­al­is­tic, not only ide­al­is­tic. Nepal is still an In­dia-locked coun­try. In­dia doesn't want a well-equipped and mod­ern in­ter­na­tional air­port in Nepal, it is well-un­der­stood by all. Just re­cently, In­dia re­jected Nepal's de­mand for al­low­ing four new en­try and exit routes for the Nepal bound air­crafts. This is solely In­dian hege­mony on Nepal and also this is an at­tempt to avoid con­struc­tion of the pro­posed Ni­j­gadh in­ter­na­tional air­port. And, with­out strong com­mit­ment among the Nepali lead­ers for na­tion build­ing, it is still doubt­ful that the Ni­j­gadh in­ter­na­tional air­port is go­ing to be con­structed as we are talk­ing about this air­port since our child­hood days. Due to the heavy air­craft traf­fic at the TIA, one air­craft ap­proach­ing the TIA has to re­main on hold in the Kath­mandu sky for min­i­mum half an hour to three hours be­fore they can land. One can as­sume, how much level of air pol­lu­tion one air­craft will cre­ate while fly­ing ad­di­tional hours in the Kath­mandu sky. Sim­i­larly, how much sound pol­lu­tion will be cre­ated by one air­craft on hold for hours, we can as­sume our­selves. To ovoid all these prob­lems, we need an in­ter­na­tional air­port not in ten years or so but im­me­di­ately. This is the time to put pres­sure on the govern­ment to con­struct the Ni­j­gadh air­port at a war foot­ing level rather than cre­at­ing dis­putes as we don't have any other al­ter­na­tives.

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