Chandan Kumar Mandal, The Kathmandu Post, 31 May 2018
The government has slashed budget for the President Chure Conservation Programme in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2018-19 and other environmental areas have also suffered similar cuts.
The ambitious programme that aims to prevent massive degradation of natural resources in Chure range, has received Rs 1.69 billion, which is 0.22 billion less than the current fiscal year’s amount of Rs 1.91 billion.
Unveiling the budget in the Parliament on Tuesday, Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada said the government’s priority was effective implementation of the programme in co-ordination with the local and provincial governments.
According to Hemlal Aryal, member secretary of the President Chure-Tarai Madhes Conservation Development Board, which is implementing various projects for Chure’s conservation under the President Chure-Tarai Madhes Conservation and Management Master Plan, the budget cut will affect the implementation of the master plan.
“Even nearly Rs 2 billion of budget is only 20 per cent of the amount required for implementing the master plan. The budget crunch and lack of technical human resources have already affected our efforts in implementing the master plan. Slashing it further would definitely have an impact on our work,” said Aryal. Forest and environment sector budget is also slashed. It accounts for only 1.26 per cent of the total budget.
The government has allotted Rs 16.58 billion for forest and environment whereas forest and land management sector, in FY 2017-18, were allocated combined Rs 22.14 - Rs 15.34 billion for the forest sector and other Rs 6.80 billion for the land reform and management. The government has prioritised programmes on scientific forest management, forest conservation and utilisation, and forestation.
“Programmes of biodiversity and environment conservation and protection will be conducted. Likewise, soil erosion will be controlled whereas river resources and riverbank will be protected,” said Minister Khatiwada.
The government has given emphasis on setting up forest produce based industries, making arrangement for forest products and herbs collection and processing as well as promoting eco-tourism in protected areas in collaboration with private sector.
The budget for the environmental sector has experienced another major cut especially when the Forest and Environment Ministry have merged. The government has allotted Rs 14.52 billion for the Ministry of Forest and Environment in FY 2018-19. The two separate ministries - Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation (MoFSC) and Ministry of Population and Environment (MoPE) - were allocated Rs 15.43 billion and Rs 7.64 billion respectively in the FY 2017-18. The budget under the heading of environment protection, which incorporates allocation for waste management, waste water management, research and development and other non-classified environmental activities have gone up to Rs 22.71 billion in the FY 2018-19 from Rs 15.13 billion in the FY 2017-18.
The budget has laid emphasis on programmes of climate change mitigation, greenery, conservation of Himalayan ranges, cleaning drive at surrounding areas of highest peaks, minimising air, dust and noise pollution in the Kathmandu Valley, setting up new Air Quality Monitoring stations in major cities among other actions intended at environment protection.