Monday, December 31, 2007

["Multipurpose"] Melamchi: Dream or reality?

INSIGHT

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, December 30
What if the 35-year-old dream of drinking water from the Melamchi valley takes a few more years but comes with a bonus of electricity and irrigation?

A group of optimist infrastructure developers have a concept of transforming the old Melamchi project into a multipurpose one. They believe that it would increase the project cost but would be incredibly cost-effective in terms of the additional benefits.

According to the concept, water from Melamchi, Yangri, Larke as well as Balephi rivers will be tapped and used to generate electricity in different phases. The same water will then be brought into the capital to be used as drinking water as well as to add volume to Bagmati river. When it flows into the Tarai plains, it will be used for irrigation.

ELECTRICITY
The water volume of Melamchi will be added to the other rivers from the adjoining valleys — Yangri, Larke and Balephi. The first two rivers flow into Indrawati river and the third into Sunkoshi. To join the rivers tunnels will be constructed between them — 18-km between Balephi and Larke, 4.5 km between Larke and Yangri, and 6.6 km between Yangri and Melamchi. Also an additional 26 km tunnel between Melamchi and Sundarijal has been proposed.
Thus the water from Melamchi will generate 35 MW electricity. Also a dam could be constructed 900 metres down the valley on the Bagmati river, which will generate 190 MW.
This would solve the problem of load shedding. Nepal now faces a power deficit of 80 MW.

The promoters believe the responsibility of constructing the tunnels would lie on companies that get the licence to generate electricity. The first power plant will be built before the tunnel reaches Sundarijal. The second 140 MW power plant is designed for the valley, for which an 18 km tunnel will be constructed. The third 50 MW powerhouse will be constructed after digging another 8 km tunnel.

Technically, the present design of 26 km tunnel to be constructed from the Melamchi valley to Kathmandu, will be insufficient to bear the additional velocity from other rivers. So, it has been suggested that the tunnel’s diameter be increased to 5 metres from the proposed 3.5 metres. Technicians believe that it will not cost much and will be completed in a shorter period big-scale excavators will be used.

Economist Ratna Sansar Shrestha said the project seems to be an ambiguous one but it is not going to cost a lot. “It’s all about resource management. If the project draws people’s participation and support, the locals will also benefit,” he said.

He also said banks would not object to funding it if the project moves forward smoothly and is implemented on time.

DRINKING WATER
Traditional water sources in the valley are drying up due to the government’s negligence and changing lifestyle. In this situation, bringing in 1.12 billion litres of water per day would make any resident happy.

The existing $500-million Melamchi project has promised providing a mere 170 million litres per day after its completion. The officials concerned admit that they do not know when this project would be complete, though they have set a target for 2012. Development workers say that by the time this project is complete the water demand will be so high that it will again be insufficient.

So, instead of completing the present project and writing another proposal for a bigger project, it will be better to have a long-term vision.

[Vice] Chairman of NGO Forum for Urban Water and Sanitation, Padma Sundar Joshi, said that there is no alternative but to expand this project because the demand for water will surely increase.

Environmentalist Bhushan Tuladhar added the Bagmati river is waiting for a large flow of water even to clean itself.

“The volume of water will not only save the riverbed from encroachment but will also generate a natural power to cleanse itself,” he said.

IRRIGATION
The water from the powerhouse will again be used to irrigate the plains of Tarai. It will be used to irrigate fields in Rautahat and Sarlahi — 13,000 hectares for rice or 30,000 hectares for other cash crops.

“After production of electricity, the water should be channelled out. If this is done properly, it is going to be a boon for agricultural production in some Tarai districts,” Tuladhar said.

However, the process of turning this dream into reality isn’t easy. In the present political scenario, investors may be difficult to find. More importantly, since development projects are guided by party politics and the possibility of winning a big commission, this mega project will have to pass through many iron gates.

Also, as Asian Development Bank is in the process of sanctioning another term of loan, the people “concerned” may not want to let go of the opportunity.

The consumers have one concern that Nepal’s bureaucracy would stall this project and make fools of them yet again.

Member of National Planning Commission Ramakanta Gauro said: “There is no doubt the concept is wonderful. But the question remains — when will it be completed?”

Parliamentarian Lokendra Bista has the answer. “When we are thinking about a new Nepal, there should be no doubt over our capacity in bringing that about. Better late than never. We must gear up for this if there are advantages,” he stressed.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Expert asks govt to put mixing ethanol, petrol on hold

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, December 29:

At a time when government officials are readying to take a policy decision to mix ethanol with petrol, environmentalists have urged the government to put the idea on hold for sometime and make it environment-friendly so that Nepal could earn financial benefits from the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).
The CDM is a process, in which developed countries pay compensation to poor countries for the former’s production of Green House Gases.
“Though late, it was a welcome move of the government to make a policy on mixing ethanol with petrol. But we can win much more if we make the policy more environment-friendly,” Megesh Tiwari, a research officer at Winrock International Nepal, told this daily.
“Nepal will be qualified to claim $750 a day (Rs 17.5 million a year) from the developed countries if we can reduce the use of petrol by 30,000 litres a day by mixing ethanol with it,” he said.
Use of 30,000 litres of ethanol means reducing the use of petrol by the same amount and reducing the emission of carbon dioxide by 75,000 kg. Generally, the polluting country ‘buys’ the credit of carbon at $ 7 to $11 per tonne of carbon.
To earn the carbon credits by using ethanol, the whole process of ethanol production, including the use of fertiliser and other cultural practices in growing the plants that generate ethanol must be environment-friendly and should not contribute to the generation of greenhouse gases.
“For this, before actually going for mixing ethanol with petrol, it would be better to formulate strict regulations on ethanol production and thereby contribute to earn resources through CDM,” he said.
[ KATHMANDU, DECEMBER 30, 2007, Poush 15, 2064]

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Nepal to be a party to convention on intangible heritage

Razen Manandhar

Kathmandu, December 21:
It’s better late than never. The government is now working hard to become a signatory to the Convention on Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage.

The Department of Archaeology is preparing necessary documents to be sent to the UNESCO to become a part of the convention. “We are now working to become a party to the convention,” director general of Department of Archaeology Kosh Prasad Acharya told this daily.

The documents are currently in the ministry and will be sent to the cabinet for approval soon. After sending the documents to the UNSECO, Nepal will be a state party to the convention within three months, he said.

The General Conference of the UNESCO from September 29 to October 17, 2003, in Paris had adopted the convention.

The convention recognises the role of communities, in particular indigenous communities, groups and, in some cases individuals, in the production, safeguarding, maintenance and re-creation of intangible cultural heritage, thus helping to enrich cultural diversity and human creativity.

UNESCO defines intangible cultural heritage as practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills - as well as the instruments, objects, artifacts and cultural spaces associated therewith - that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognise as part of their cultural heritage.

This intangible cultural heritage, transmitted from generation to generation, is constantly recreated by communities and groups in response to their environment and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, Acharya said.

“We will identify and define various elements of intangible cultural heritage present in Nepal, with the participation of communities, groups and relevant non-governmental organisations,” he said, adding that educational, awareness-raising and information programmes will be launched to create awareness among the general public, in particular young people.
[ KATHMANDU, DECEMBER 22, 2007, Poush 07, 2064]

Friday, December 21, 2007

Can bio-fuel bail NOC out of red?

ALTERNATIVE ENERGY

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, December 20:
To meet the soaring power demand, the Nepal Electricity Authority generates 49 MW of electricity in thermal plants by using fossil-fuel to supplement hydro-electricity. But if this could be done using domestically produced bio-diesel, it would not only lower the pressure on imported fossil diesel but also check Greenhouse Gas emission by up to 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.

It is estimated that in December the Nepal Oil Corporation will bear a loss of Rs 560 million while importing traditional petroleum products from India.

The seeds of an inedible plant, Jatropha Curcas L, locally known as Sajiban, have the potential to produce bio-diesel that can be used in vehicles, for cooking, as well as for the generation of electricity.

Megesh Tiwari, research officer at Winrock International Nepal, said Jatropha seeds could be sold to thermal power plants or other industries.

“If a thermal plant uses bio-diesel about 4,000 kl of imported diesel will be saved and this could minimise NOC’s loss by Rs 18 million each year,” he said.

He, however, added that they were uncertain about the cost of commercially grown Jatropha or the price of the processed bio-fuel.

“But, if the consuming companies themselves grow the plants, it will certainly minimise the price of the yield and will be more cost effective,” he said, adding that the plant can be grown on wastelands and landless or extremely poor families would benefit if they take up growing these plants. “Introduction of bio-diesel will support long-term energy security and lessen fuel related economic losses,” he said.

Dr Jibendra Jha, chief of NEA’s Generation Section, said the bio-diesel would be a strong supplementary fuel that can be used to produce electricity at least during the dry period.

“I have heard about bio-diesel. I believe that it can help in running our thermal plants in the face of diesel scarcity,” he said, adding, “NEA would be happy to work with researchers who have been trying to use bio-diesel in energy production.”

He said the NEA had made a power purchase agreement for a similar plant around Bhairahawa some years ago but it has failed to generate electricity for NEA.

Currently, NEA has two thermal plants — the one in Hetauda uses diesel to generate 10 MW and the Biratnagar plant uses multi-fuel to generate 39 MW.
[ KATHMANDU, DECEMBER 21, 2007, Poush 06, 2064 ]

Friday, December 14, 2007

Mix ethanol with petrol, save money!

Alternative energy

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, December 13:

Tired of queuing up for petrol for your vehicles? Imagine of something what nature has given to us and has dual benefits. It relieves us, to some extent, from waiting our turns in petrol pumps and also helps keep our environment clean.

It is more relevant now at a time when the Nepal Oil Corporation has been failing to meet the demand of oil and the rise in price of petrol in international market is going on.

Different plants can be turned into something, which you can add in your fuel tank as much as 10 to 20 per cent, without modifying the engine. It has been in practice in countries like the US, Brazil and Indonesia since a long time.

In our context, if treated properly, waste of sugar mills can produce a liquid named ethanol that can be mixed with petrol to run vehicles. It is cheaper than petrol, provides relief from petrol shortage, helps mange the industrial waste and keeps the environment clean.

“Waste of sugar industries is a source of molasses from which ethanol can be extracted,” said Om Bahadur Shrestha, the team leader of the research on ethanol-pe-trol blend for vehicles. He has recently done a research mixing sugarcane and etha-nol and successfully run eight cars and six motorcycles.

He said the use of ethanol he-lps emit less sm-oke. “If we run our vehicles with 10 per cent of ethanol and 90 per cent of petrol, the emission of the poisonous gas, CO, is reduced to 36.61 per cent,” he added.

As the NOC is not meeting the growing demand of petrol, any company which produces ethanol is going to make profit, he claims, adding that it is also going to provide a new market for sugarcane and create employment for farmers.

He urged the government to make mandatory laws for using etanol in its all vehicles and to cut the demand of oil.

Bhushan Tuladhar, the executive director of ENPHO, said that if all sugar mills start producing ethanol and market it in Nepal, the shortage of petrol will be considerably minimised.

According to him, some sugar mills have already produced ethanol but, since the government has no proper policy to promote it, they have exported the production to India.
[KATHMANDU, DECEMBER 14, 2007, Mangsir 28, 2064 ]

Friday, December 07, 2007

Alternative energy: Power outage? Turn to Solar Tuki



ALTERNATIVE ENERGY

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, December 6:
Load shedding is not a new phenomena in Nepal and fighting darkness during the power outage sometimes become a nightmare for people who have to rely on Tuki (kerosene-lamps), candles or low quality “emergency lights” with rechargeable batteries.
But now there is a durable solution — using Solar Tuki, a cheap solar lighting system.
Tuki is a traditional kerosene-lamp widely used in the cities and the villages for illumination and a Solar Tuki is a set of two units of 0.3 Watt White Light Emitting Diodes (WLED) powered by solar energy supplied through a built-in Nickel Metal Hydride rechargeable batteries, charged by 3 Watt solar photo voltaic panel.
The lamp unit also has a 3 Volt outlet for connecting a FM/AM radio. The fully charged Solar Tuki works for eight hours.
A newer version of the lamp, named Solar Tuki Plus, even supports a cellular mobile phone and Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) phone charger or a 12 Volt TV or a fan for improved cooking-stove.
Such lamps have already been popular in remote villages and are now waiting to be introduced in other areas.
In rural context, such lamps have been effective to reduce use of kerosene, help children study in the evenings, minimise indoor pollution and also to be informed by listening to radios in the places where there is no electricity.
“After distributing Solar Tuki in different remote districts across the country, we are concentrating on urban populations who need an alternative energy source for lighting homes during the load-shedding hours,” said Yogendra Chitrakar, the director of Environment Camps for Conservation Awareness (ECCA). In the urban context, such lights could be a relief for students, housewives as well as businessmen by using it for lighting purpose, he said.
The Tukis are now assembled in Nepal these days with materials imported from China, Taiwan and other countries and the lamp unit set with a solar recharge panel and two lamps costs Rs 3150 to 3500 and bears a guarantee for two to five years. A Solar Tuki consumes very low energy but produces sufficient light. Some three hours’ charge is sufficient
to illuminate a room for nine hours.
Over a dozen factories in the capital assemble such lamps. Sahadev Byanjankar, the chief of the Green Engineering and Technology Lab (GETL) said: “We have been producing the Solar Tukis from the past eight months. We have a capacity to produce 100 to 150 pieces in a month,” he said.
The solar-based lighting system, has also been awarded with the US Innovation Award by the US Tech Museum, for its innovative technology and utility.
[ KATHMANDU, DECEMBER 07, 2007, Mangsir 21, 2064]

Thursday, December 06, 2007

FM stations are mired; some are suspect

INSIGHT
Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu
[2007 December 6, Thursday]
One decade has passed since Frequency Modulation (FM) radio stations were introduced in Nepal, but over a hundred FM radio stations, aired from different parts of the country, are mired — they are still not clear where they are heading for.


The Kathmandu valley itself has two dozens of FM stations, out of 34 companies which have obtained government licences, trying to find their audience among the potpourri society of FM listeners. Those who claim themselves to be “community” or the others who remain “commercial” FM stations all are moving forward with an unclear audience.
Radio Sagarmatha was the first to get private firm to get the licence for broadcasting on May 18, 1997 after the state-owned Radio Nepal got licence for its FM station in February11, 1996. According to the government records, 305 companies have obtained permission for FM radio stations.

“Most of the radio stations, do not actually know for whom they are producing programmes and also have no idea whether the listeners are interested in the programmes they air,” said Krishna Adhikari, a media scholar, who has recently done a study on FM stations.

How many?

There is no hard and fast rule on how many FM stations are appropriate for the valley. “And there should not be either. But they must be serving the needs of the audience,” said Raj Shrestha, managing director of Times FM.

Earlier, it was decided that there would not be no more stations than 11 — out of which one was reserved for the then Royal Nepal Army and one was for the palace in the valley. But later , the number of stations the valley supposedly could hold grew — Kamal Thapa had issued licences to over a dozen new stations and the situation worsened when Krishna Bahadur Mahara became information minister, a media critic said.

The craze for license was so high that the one, which legally costs Rs 200 thousand, cost up to 10 million when the Jana Andolan II was taking its height. “I paid 3.3 million for my licence when I acquired it. A pro-palace agent came to me and
offered Rs 10 million because he needed a running station to disseminate views against the seven party agitation and to support the king’s direct rule,” said an owner.

He also says that many of the FM stations are owned by top-notch political leaders who will one day come up with their real intention in acquiring the licenses.

In general, the distance between two stations should be 0.6 MHz. But on one hand, the minimum distance is not maintained, while on the other, some stations have successfully stopped the government from issuing licences to nearby frequencies, so, keeping their air safe from possible encroachment.

Popularity and listeners
For the 1.8 million of the Kathmandu Valley we have 26 running radio stations, which mean the audiences are divided for their choice of stations but no clear indication has been drawn which one is the most popular one.

“Of course, nobody can stop me from claiming that my station is the best and most widely listened in the valley,” said Shrestha sarcastically. He said that there is no authority to compare or review the impact of the radio programmes, and those who claimed to be best or whatever are never criticised.

He added that it happens so because the listeners in the Kathamndu Valley are all dumb and they seldom react whether you provide them with the best or the worst.
A programme presenter of Radio Sagarmatha, Pratyush Onta, had to paste a
notice in the office of the radio station itself seeking feedback as he failed to get any critical comment for his 30 episodes of Dabali discussion programme in
November 1998.

And, according to Shrestha, making programmes only for the sake of society is also useless for they do not respond and you never know if the society makes any benefit or not. “Rather, I will go for making businesses by making programmes for the advertisers,” he said.

In recent days, a kind of understanding among the station owners has been made that one particular station cannot cover the need of the versatile and wide range of denizens of the valley. “So they are now trying to specialise their programmes so that a particular group of audience could be targeted — you can find news-oriented, intellectual, musical, religious or even humourous stations,” said he.

He added that since the government is always under the influence of the
political leaders, only society could bring the FM stations to a desired track by appreciating, warning, teaching or even boycotting them.

Manpower
A radio station needs 50 to 100 employees to run a station but hardly any of them is satisfactorily paid.

“Making a career in FM radio is a distant dream. During my study, I found that most of the stations are running with new, untrained staff or relatives, for which they don’t have to pay sufficiently,” said Adhikari.

He also added that in many cases, the owners have sought money from the programme presenters who want to be “famous” by airing a programme or two. On the other hand, many of the stations have a tendency to block chances[...]

News
News in FM has become a craze in the recent days. Almost every FM stations are airing news at regular intervals. Most of them have hourly news bulletins and some like Kalika FM of Chitwan has 24 hours news bulletins.

“It is almost a surprising craze. Once people used to look down on FM news, saying that they do not have sources and they are not reliable. But now, they take FM news as something comparable to papers,” said Binod Dhungel, editor of Nepal FM.

He said, however, most of the FM stations lack basic infrastructure— either a reporting team or a news desk.

“But, they all are running blindly only to do something innovative, driven by passion than by ability,” he said.

On the other hand, most of the FM news bulletins, like broadsheet newspapers or state-owned AM radio, are covering the usual political stuff and working as local or community radio stations. Meetings of the parties, speeches of leaders, changes in party philosophy are taking covering time, not local problems or day-to-day affairs of the people.

Dhungel admits that though many of the stations have news bulletins, they do not give emphasis to local news.

“We also tried to cover local incidents and stories trough a programme ‘Tole Chhimeki” but we lack that kind of manpower and the local audience do not want to help us,” he said.

He also added that since the advertisers want wider coverage, they prefer national news or stations, which could be listened to in other cities as well.

“We cannot blame all but most FM stations are only escalating crave for news among the audience and serving the audience with half-baked or misleading information,” said Adhikari.

Ownership/investments
Nothing is clear — some owners had to sale parental properties as they incurred heavy losses running FM stations, and some persons, who brought almost nothing from their hometowns, are running stations which are now worth billions.

Businessmen, media persons, municipal organisations and political leaders are also seen in investing in FM stations.

“Some owners are even unseen and even foreigners could also be traced behind stations,” Adhikari said, adding, that it is suspicious that most of the stations have invested billions but they all do not own land and buildings.

An investor said that hardly any of the stations are sincere in terms of investments. “Some are bringing surplus profit of their other business and others are inviting unseen and dubious investors to run the stations. Many of them are surviving only because of their ego problems with one person or institution,” said he, adding that the problems in FM stations can be traced to the fact that stations are run by businessmen, not professionals.
[Kathmandu, 2007/12/06]

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Yeti footprints found at Khumbu, explorers claim


Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, November 30:
A team of explorers has arrived in the capital with an exciting story of finding footprints of yeti near the base camp of Mount Everest, at Khumbu.

“We are happy to say that we have found footprints of yeti. And the snowman is no more a legend for us now,” Joshua Gates, the team leader of the expedition of the American television channel Destination Truth, told the media today.

Showing the model of the footprint, collected at the site, he added that some scientific research would continue in the US regarding its authenticity and other phases of exploration for further studies.

The team, consisting of 9 Americans and 14 Nepalis, left Kathmandu on 24 November and arrived here today after competing the expedition. After finding the footprints, they chartered a helicopter and directly flew back to the capital.

He said that the team found the footprints when it was returning from Khumbu by the confluence of Ghettekhola and Dudhkoshi rivers, near Monju village at a height of 2,850 metres.

It was Tul Bahadur Rai, assistant guide of the team, who first spotted the footprint by the riverbank.

“It was the night of November 28. I cried in excitement when I saw the footprints. I called all the members and they took photographs and also made a model of the footprint, after they were convinced that it indeed was a footprint,” he told this daily.

He also said that one of the prints was around 12 inches long and others were smaller because the ground was not even and the prints were not clear.

This is not the first time, footprints of yeti, a species of hairy, humpbacked and dark giant biped ape, were found in Nepal’s Himalayan valleys. In 1925 a Greek photographer, NA Tombazi, claimed that he had spotted an ape-like creature walking in the valley near Mt Everest. Another noted explorer who claimed to have seen yeti was the father of Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, the first person to climb Everest.

Similarly, British mountaineers Eric Shipton and Michael Ward found the yeti footprints in 1951 near the border area.

Even Sir Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay, found giant footprints on the way up the top of Mount Everest, in 1953.

[ KATHMANDU, DECEMBER 01, 2007, Mangsir 15, 2064]

Friday, November 30, 2007

Bio-briquettes can keep the winter at bay

ALTERNATIVE ENERGY

Razen Manandhar

Kathmandu, November 29:
Winter is already here but the Valley denizens have nothing reliable to heat up their rooms. With ever-increasing load shedding hours and the year-round shortage of LPG, using electric or gas heaters in not imaginable. But wait. There is a solution at your doorstep. You can go for something called bio-briquettes made of biomass, which produces maximum heat and almost no smoke.

One bar of bio-briquette can heat your room for nearly two hours just at the cost of Rs 15 to 20. A briquette stove however costs from Rs 700 to 1200. By using bio-briquettes, youwill be chasing away the chilly winter on one hand and helping to keep your city clean on the other. But one should be cautious while using bio-briquettes for heating purpose and ensure that the room is well ventilated.

In the capital, bio-briquettes are available in departmental stores and shops around hospitals, as the marketers presently intend to supply them for the purpose of generating heat for massage of newborns.

“We can produce bio-briquettes by using wastage paper, saw-dust and other parts of the garbage. We can generate energy and help the municipality to minimise the volume of waste side by side,” said Sanukaji Shrestha, the chief of the Foundation of Sustainable Technology.

He has developed a technology for producing bio-briquettes out of waste materials. But he does not produce them for commercial purpose. Instead, he teaches people from different localities on how to produce them and contribute solid waste management.
Bio-briquettes have not however been effectively marketed so far.

Integrated Development Society (IDS) has provided training on bio-briquettes in a dozen of districts. “We provide training to communities but most of them are not producing bio-briquettes commercially,” said Santosh Guragai, a trainer of IDS.

Nirmal Nepal, the director of Nepal Bio-briquette Company Pvt Ltd, said they will be focusing on marketing this winter.
[ KATHMANDU, NOVEMBER 30, 2007, Mangsir 14, 2064 ]

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Making of a planned Kathmandu Valley

Razen Manandhar

kathmandu - The fertile green land of Kathmandu valley is turning into a concrete jungle so rapidly that, the planners estimate, after 25 years, Kathmandu Valley’s agricultural land will be at a zero.

The shortage of agricultural land in this legendary valley will not only distort its ecological balance but also destroy its livelihood and will create a huge crisis among the residents, a draft report states.

Is it possible to safeguard this "piece of heaven", this capital city, which has passed the limits of uncontrolled, unscientific and illegal development? One can hardly imagine making a healthy metropolis out of this valley which has called the haphazard construction of houses, urbanisation. Still, the urban planners are hopeful of bringing back a balanced and environment-friendly Valley.

The minister of works and physical planning, the minister of state, director-general, deputy director-generals, mayors, deputy mayors and other urban planners sat together for the umpteenth time two weeks ago to think seriously about finding ways to stop Kathmandu from further deterioration. (The minister Mahanta Thakur, however, left even before the resource person shed light on the objectives of the programme).

The Planning Team of Kathmandu Valley Urban Development Committee has developed the latest Kathmandu Valley Development Plan - 2020. This draft plan aims at reducing the external factors of population growth and assisting the government implement the programmes and projects as per the plan’s targets.

The making of a planned Kathmandu Valley has innumerable challenges. It is not that the government has done nothing in this field. But, the counter current is so strong and is coming en masse that it is beyond the reach of any law, by-laws or regulations. Those were the days when the valley was in the hands of the dwellers who lived to serve it, decorated it, made it even more beautiful. Now, the power of those who encroach, squat and ruin the beauty of the city is on the rise.

The present challenges:

Since it is the main valley, it obviously creates the most opportunities for starting a career and job hunting. So, the inflow of immigrants is natural. In 1950, the population of the valley was around 400,000 but now it is estimated to be over 1.5 million. During the 1981-91 period, out of the total population, 37.5 percent were found to be immigrants. In the same period, the urban population of the valley jumped to 61 percent from an earlier 56 percent.

Despite the present development trends, the Valley has made its identity as a place rich in cultural heritage. It was so inscribed in the World Heritage List in 1979 but the drastic urbanisation has increasingly threatened this age-long heritage. Encroachment onto public and religious lands and turning traditional buildings into concrete matchboxes has been the present tendency. This is the reason why the Valley was proposed to be included in the Heritage in Danger list.

Until 1981, 75 percent of the valley population depended on agriculture whereas in 1991, only one third are found engaged in any agro-profession. This change reflects the changing economic condition of the residents and this needs to be taken into consideration while introducing new plans for the valley. The increasing number of industries are encouraging signs but when we read that 40 percent of the polluting industries like kilns and carpet industries are in the valley, this definitely disheartens the planners. Three industrial estates cover 55 hectares of the valley.

The valley is occupied by a total of 943kms of road on which over a hundred thousand vehicles travel every day. And out of the total, 86 percent are found to be private ones, responsible for the present excessive number of vehicles in the valley — 60 percent of the country’s total vehicles use the Valley’s roads.

The legendary lake valley is in dire need of drinking water. The concerned body distributes only 80-115 million litres daily to meet the demand of 145 million litres. Only two thirds of the population depend on pipeline water and others make their own underground water source. The traditional sources of waterspouts are also drying up.

As a capital, the valley definitely houses the biggest number of institutions to provide different facilities to the citizens. There are over 2500 educational institutions, government and private, working in the valley. In the health sector also, there are 173 institutions with a bed capacity of around 4000. Out of around 300 standard hotels and resorts of the country, 87 percent are located in the valley alone. Despite the attempts and plans to promote decentralization, all the opportunities for a better life is congested in the valley but the actual capacity has never been calculated.

The rising population, industries, vehicles can be blamed for making the valley unsuitable to live in from the pollution point of view. Medium and big industries are responsible for 104 tonnes of dust particles with the smoke they jet out everyday. Lead particles found in the air around Bhotahity, Kalimati, Kingsway, Maharajgunj etc. can be held responsible for the growing cases of respiratory and reproductive illnesses.

Will this long-term plan for the coming two decades be strong enough to combat these challenges? In retrospect, we have already had several plans, which had in general little impact upon the random development in the valley. For the last 30 years, many steps have been taken in this regard: The plans of 1971, 1976, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1991, 1994, 1995 are either not finalised, not ratified, not implemented or not working forcefully enough.

Still, this is perhaps the last ray of hope to make this small valley really a model capital city — that respects both traditional traits and modern developments. The government is presently busy, discussing the draft of this long-term plan. There is hope that it can do something to put an end to the unwanted, abrupt and unsystematic development which makes many desperately wish for another tragic earthquake to level the mushrooming buildings and encroachments that stand against healthy urbanisation.
[Kathmandu, Sunday, April 15, 2001 Baishakh 02, 2058.]
http://www.nepalnews.com.np/contents/englishweekly/sundaypost/2001/apr/apr15/2ndpage.htm#7

Kailali jungles face encroachment

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, November 28 [2007]:

Encroachment is going unabated in the jungles along the Basanta corridor in Kailali, thanks
to poor implementation of law and order and support from some political quarters, said a forest official today. This corridor links Bardiya Wildlife Reserve with Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve.
In the past six months, 3,000 households have occupied land in 30 places in the Basanta area alone, Man Bahadur Swar, district forest officer of Kailali, told this daily today.
“Out of 47,000 hectares of jungle area here, at least 2,100 hectares have been encroached upon recently. If the encroachment goes on at this rate, there will be no forest at all in Kailali district in 10 years,” he said. The Kailali DFO recently carried out a survey in the area.
With 2.08 lakh hectares of jungle, Kailali is one of the most densely-forested districts. In 2001, the government and local communities removed the encroachers, who had occupied some 5,000 hectares of land.
The district can collect revenue equivalent to Rs one billion per year if the encroachment is brought to a halt, according to Swar.
He said the jungle always suffers due to unstable political situation because neither the governments nor the leaders give priority to conservation.
“Some organisations and some political parties are supporting the landless people and the freed Kamaiyas. The intention could be praiseworthy, but it is inviting fake squatters to destroy the jungles,” he said.
Santosh Nepal, field coordinator of the Tarai Arc Landscape Programme, said: “The encroachment in the area is so rampant that the whole patch of jungle is now ‘decorated’ with plastic sheets donated by NGOs”. “Why they were given land may not be our concern. But why were they given forest land? This is going to create problems,” he said.
[ KATHMANDU, NOVEMBER 29, 2007, Mangsir 13, 2064 ]
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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Climate change poses risks for Nepal: UN

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, November 27:
Avalanches and floods pose special risks to densely populated mountain regions, such as Nepal, where glaciers are retreating at a rate of several metres every years, states the United Nation’s Human Development Report, released today, which is focussed on climate change this year.
“Lakes formed by melting glacier waters are expanding at an alarming rate. The Tsho Rolpa Lake being a case in point, having increased more than seven-fold in the past 50 years,” the report, ‘Fighting Climate Change: Human Solidarity in a Divided World’, says.
It also stresses that the time and energy being spent for fuel wood collection is also affecting Nepal’s productivity. “In Guatemala and Nepal, wood expenditure represents 10-15 per cent of total household expenditure in the poorest quintile. Collection time for fuel wood has significant opportunity costs, limiting opportunities for women to engage in income generating activities. More broadly, inadequate access to modern energy services restricts productivity and helps keep people poor,” the report says. The report also appreciates the attempts being made in Nepal. “In Nepal, communities in flood-prone areas are building early warning systems — such as raised watchtowers — and providing labour and material to shore up embankments to prevent glacial lakes from bursting their banks,” it says, adding that farmers across the developing world are responding to emerging climate threats by drawing on traditional cultivation technology.
If climate change is not properly addressed in South and East Asia, changes in rainfall, temperatures and the availability of water would cause great loses in productivity of food staples, thereby thwarting efforts to cut rural poverty, it states, adding,”Central Asia, Northern China and the northern part of the South Asia are particularly vulnerable to retreating glaciers”.
The report makes a case for the urgency with which climate change needs to be addressed. “Time matters for all of us. Today we are living with what we did yesterday/ tomorrow we will all live with what we do today. We need to take action now,” it says.

Nepal ranks 142nd in HDI
• Nepal has gained 0.007 in HDI value but dropped 4 places in rank from the
last year’s.
• Nepal ranks 142 out of 177 countries with the HDI value of 0.534. In 2006, Nepal ranked 138 with an HDI value of 0.527.
• Iceland stands at the top and Sierra Leone at the bottom in the HDI.
• Nepal ranks last in South Asia; Pakistan (rank 136 and HDI 0.551) and Bangladesh (rank 140 and HDI 0.547) being nearest in the HDI. The regional average HDI value for South Asia is 0.661. Nepal’s HDI value is also below the average for all developing countries (0.691).
• Life expectancy at birth in Nepal is 62.6 years, adult literacy rate is 48.6 per cent, and combined gross enrolment ratio for primary, secondary and tertiary education is 58.1 per cent.
[ KATHMANDU, NOVEMBER 28, 2007, Mangsir 12, 2064 ]

Monday, November 26, 2007

Plan for Lumbini development soon

Razen Manandhar

Kathmandu, November 25[2007]:
Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha and one of the four World Heritage Sites of the country, is soon going to have a framework for future plans in the sacred archaeological site soon.
Since the site is now a centre of attraction for religious pilgrims, architectural students and tourism entrepreneurs, the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is going to come up with a framework based on which all new master plans and other development works will be carried out.
“The drafting of the framework has begun. It is going to stop the government as well as other institutions from making unwanted changes in the site,” said Kai Waise, the adviser for drafting the framework for the UNESCO Kathmandu Office.
The Integrated Management Plan (IMP) will define the significance, size and right of authorities concerned from different aspects, the UNESCO adviser further said. More than a single plan, it is a system, process or function of the area, which will be the supreme guideline for Lumbini, once it is endorsed by the cabinet, he said.
Though the focus of the framework is the patch of land measuring 1.92 square metre, in which Lord Buddha was born, the framework will also come up with recommendations for buffer zones and other surrounding development zones in this Integrated Management Plan, in line with recommendations made by the World Heritage Committee to prevent the total de-listing of the site from the World Heritage Site list. “We will also draw certain lines on how existing factories, the proposed construction of the international airport and dams in nearby rivers will or could affect the vulnerability of the site,” Waise said.
The government must make sure that development works to be carried out around the site do not affect the site, Waise further said.He said that the plan itself is not a master plan, but a broad and long-term guideline that will govern drawing of new master plans and other initiatives for conservation or development of the the area.
“It is good to hear that Lumbini will have its IMP, finally,” said Kosh Prasad Acharya, director-general of the Department of Archaeology (DoA) who was also involved in drafting of the project proposal.
He said that since the DoA is the nodal agency of all World Heritage Sites of Nepal, it is our responsibility to support the process of drafting it.
“Drafting of IMP was the requirement of the World Heritage Committee. And since the master plan of Kenji Tange was only a development plan, a separate plan was needed to draw strict lines for conservation of the sacred garden,” Acharya further said.

[KATHMANDU, NOVEMBER 26, 2007, Mangsir 10, 2064 ]

Friday, November 23, 2007

Produce cooking gas at home!

Alternative energy:

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, November 22[2007]:

Here’s good news for all of us, who have been facing gas shortage and sewerage disposal problems. These problems can be solved at a cost of Rs 20,000.
By installing a small plant on the rooftop of your house or on the backyard, you can get rid of kitchen and toilet waste. On top of it, cooking gas will be available at your kitchen round the clock for free, concludes a recent experiment, supported by the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST).

Hari Prasad Pandey, a sanitation engineer at the Department of Water Supply and Sewerage in Jhapa, worked out this solution after conducting an 18-month-long experiment.

He has built a domestic plant, which converts kitchen waste and human waste into cooking gas. “You can run a gas stove for around 90 minutes per day out of the faeces and urine of two persons as well as kitchen waste you dump in the plant daily. It means you save at least Rs 400 per month,” he told The Himalayan Times, adding that there will be no foul smell or explosion.

A kitchen waste inlet, part of the plant, is linked to the outlet of the toilet. Both the lines feed a 1,100-litre reactor tank and 300-litre pressure tank, which has an effluent outlet. Another 300-litre tank is also used for drying the sludge.

On average, 1.5 kg of kitchen waste and toilet waste of two persons can generate gas equivalent to 802 kilocalories of energy. “Thus, it is possible to reduce the generation of biodegradable solid waste by 60 per cent. If the plant is installed in all houses in the Kathmandu Valley, the generation of solid waste can be reduced by 750 metric tons every day,” he said, adding, “This will also help keep the Bagmati river less polluted.”

“After keeping the waste in the plant for about two months, it can be disposed in the river. Biological Oxygen Demand in the water will be reduced from 6,000 milligrams per litre to 938 mg,” he said.

Pandey said, “I will not go for patenting this experiment, but will be happy if my invention serves the public.”
[KATHMANDU, NOVEMBER 23, 2007, Mangsir 07, 2064 ]
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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ex-army men to approach UN

Want money ‘grabbed’ by NA from UN peace-keepers back

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, November 14[2007]:

Former Nepal Army personnel who had served in various UN peacekeeping missions have decided to demonstrate in front of the UN Complex in Kathmandu after they failed to get back nearly Rs 65 billion that the Nepal Army has “illegally grabbed” from them.
Since1973, Nepal has sent as many as 61,000 army men to dozens of countries around the world on UN missions. The Nepal Army collects as much as 90 per cent of the salary the peace-keepers get from the UN.
“We don’t know where the money is. Our gross calculation is that the government has grabbed as much as Rs 65 billion out of our sweat money,” said Ambar Bahadur Thapa Magar, the chairman of the Nepal National Free Ex-Army Council. According to the council, a soldier got only $110 out of the $500 provided by the UN as monthly salary during the missions from 1973 to 1977. He got only $150 out of the $680 from 1977, $300 out of $950 from 1980 and $800 out of $1,028 from 2001.
The Nepal Army kept the rest of the money and kept saying that it has been deposited in the Army Social Welfare Fund.
The peace-keepers do not get a penny from the $2,000 they get along with the medals, $1,000 for clothing, $1,000 for training, $1,000 for family support and $950 as support for one extra month. It is estimated that the Nepal Army chops off Rs 500,000 from each soldier serving six months in any peacekeeping mission.
Thapa said the government gave a deaf ear to their pleas to give the money back to its rightful owners.
The Council has decided to stage demonstration and hunger strike in front of the UN Office from November 21, after holding a relay hunger-strike at Maitighar for nine days.
“We have heard that the money is in Nepal Army’s possession. It is used for studies of high-class army officers abroad and wedding parties of their children.” He claimed few senior army officers have opened a bank by using this money, while others have begun real estate business in Pokhara and Itahari.
Despite a Supreme Court decision, the government has not paid the sum back to the soldiers. The SC had ordered the government to make the money public and distribute the “confiscated” money to the soldiers.

Money will not be returned: Army
KATHMANDU: Nepal Army spokesperson Ramindra Chhetri said the army collects some percentage of the perks the peacekeepers get from the UN and it has been deposited in the Army Social Welfare Fund. He said the interest coming from the money is being used in various welfare programmes. “The money we take from the soldiers is utilised in education, health and other welfare of soldiers’ families. It is transparent. As the fund is being run with the government’s consent, the money will not be returned,” he said. — HNS
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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Load-shedding to be delayed by few weeks

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, November 13:

Electricity consumers will witness more bright nights this winter as load-shedding, a regular practice in Nepal, is going to start some two to four weeks later as compared to the previous years.
“Thanks to the prolonged monsoon this year, the load-shedding will begin two to four weeks later than the usual routine,” said Sher Singh Bhat, the chief at the System Operation Department of the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), adding that the scenario of power deficit will be clear after the festival of Chhath.
In general, the NEA prepares the routine of load-shedding by the end of November. But the NEA has not yet begun to draft the load-shedding routine for this year.
He said that the country cannot go without load-shedding at least for several years to come but, this year, the consumers will have some relief.
Last year, the consumers had to face 21 hours of load-shedding every week in the winter. The load-shedding hours reached as high as 12 hours a day by April.
During festival periods like Dashain and Tihar, the demand for electricity goes relatively down than in other normal days. “In general, we have 380 MW of power consumption in the day time but the consumption during Dashain and Tihar was only 310 MW,” he said.
“I guess the demand will rise after Chhath,” he said, adding that most of the powerhouses in the country are running in good condition at present.
“Most of the power plants are running in full capacity these days and the possibility of importing 40 MW of power from India through Kataiya-Duhabi line will also help us minimise the deficit,” he added.
Generally, there is a demand for 650 MW of electricity in the winter season, but the electricity authority has been facing a deficit of 50 MW.
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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

ADB loan renewal for Melamchi not before January

By: Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, November 14[2007]
The loan renewal with Asian Development Bank (ADB) for the Melamchi Water Supply Project (MWSP) will be postponed till January 2008 due to a delay in the handing over of Nepal Water Supply Corporation to a semi-private body and other changes in the project infrastructure.

The ADB was supposed to renew the loan agreement for S120 million this month with the Nepal government for the construction of 26.5 Km tunnel in the Melamchi valley.
An ADB mission, which studied the project's progress in the Kathmandu and in the field for the past six days, presented a report to the project. The report said the renewal of the agreement will not be possible before January. The Melamchi's agenda was supposed to be presented to ADB board meeting on November 22. "The mission, in short, told us that the renewal of the loan agreement will be held only in January," said Purna Das Shrestha, deputy executive director of Melamchi Water Supply Development Board. He said that the project was moving forward with temporary extension which has been taking place in every three months. "Now, we cannot approve tender bids for the construction of the tunnel. However, we have been continuing the process for calling the tender," he said adding that as it is a big-scale construction, the bidder do not want to make bids before the loan approval.
He said that a delay in handing over the assets and liabilities of NWSC to the semi-private company—Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited (KUKL)—could be the major reason for the delay in the loan agreement. "Due to some changes in KUKL and as NWSC also had some problems to complete its duties, the handover problems to complete its duties, the handover was delayed, which ultimately affected the process of loan renewal," he said.
The ADB had agreed for the loan in December 2000, which will be used mainly in the construction of the tunnel.

Source: The Himalayan Times, November 7, 2007

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Lack of bridges makes half of rural road network ‘defunct’

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, November 3:

At least 4,000 bridges connecting over 21,000-km rural road network have been awaiting immediate construction.
Construction technicians have urged the government to give high priority on construction of these bridges so as to make the maximum use of the rural road network, half of which is already defunct due to the lack of bridges.
“An exclusively dedicated Rural Road Bridge Programme is necessary for authentic special planning, prioritizing, and fixing the bridge capacity, technical norms and standards as well as for fixing uniform implementation procedures and executing bodies,” said Artha Tuladhar, a research consultant on construction of trail bridges.
He said that the government has to immediately construct 4,000 such bridged to take advantage of the already constructed 21,000-km rural road network.
He stressed that an authentic institution under Ministry of Local Development is necessary to fix the exact location and capacity of a rural road bridge considering the geology as well as technical and socio-economic aspects of the area.
Tuladhar also pointed out that rural road construction and bridge construction requires close coordination as there are different categories of rural roads which may need bridges of different capacities.
There are 521 suspension bridges, 2,483 suspended bridges, 140 steel truss bridges and 236 other types of bridges in trails and tracks of Nepal.
Around 20 national and international agencies are involved in the trail bridge construction in Nepal. In addition to extended support of Swiss government, World Bank and Asian Devlopment Banks are showing interest in extending their hands in teh construction of rural roads in various districts.
Prof Deepak Bhatarai, the principal of the Nepal Engineering College, said that the government should prioritise this issue. “Not all the bridges that are required can be constructed immediately. A system of prioritizing on bridge construction will remain challenging in the present socio-political context,” he said.
He also said trail bridge building in Nepal is also suffering from the lack of trained manpower and low retention of skilled personnel.
Dr Jagadish Chandra Pokhrel, the vice-chairman of the National Planning Commission, however, added that budget must not be a constraint in development activities. He also urged engineers to come up with unconventional technologies to provide access to rural areas through rural bridges.

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Small parties to team up for TPR

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, October 31:

Unlike big parties, small parties are rooting for the adoption of a Total Proportional Representation (TPR). They say an alliance should be forged between small parties and other alliances for the adoption of this system. The Jana Morcha Nepal, CPN-United, CPN-Unified and the NSP-Anandidevi are some of the parties that have been demanding that the constituent assembly polls be held on the basis of TPR.
Ganesh Shah, general secretary, CPN-United, said today: “We will wage a joint struggle to break the monopoly of the big parties.”
Kabiraj Timilsina, spokesperson, Nepal People’s Party, said only a coalition among the pro-TPR parties and forces will put pressure on the big parties.
Chairman of the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN) Pasang Sherpa said that the adoption of an all-out proportional representation will suit the country.
Demanding the TPR, the NEFIN handed over a memorandum at the PM’s Office yesterday. “TPR is a matter of our existence. Women have been sidelined by parties in polls. Now, we want to have our seats secured in the CA and this is the only way for us,” said Dr Renu Rajbhandari, coordinator, National Alliance of Women Human Right Defenders.

NEFIN’s proposal
KATHMANDU: The indigenous people will assure the government that those who will be elected in the constituent assembly will not claim their share in the government, NEFIN chairman Pasang Sherpa said on Wednesday. “We know, the major parties are worried that we might seek our seats in the government. We want to make it clear that we, the Janajatis and as minorities, are not asking for total PR to become ministers. We just want to have the right to write our own statute,” he said. According to his option, elected assembly will be engaged only in drafting the statute, while the seven-party coalition will stay in the government even after the polls, probably in an expanded form. — HNS

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Chlorine lacking in piped water in Valley: Survey

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, October 27:

Piped water distributed in many areas of Kathmandu Valley is lacking in chlorine, according to a survey to be released soon. Both high and low chlorine concentration are harmful for public health.
The Free Residual Chlorine Survey in piped water, conducted in the valley for the past three months, has shown that water in at least 17 out of selected 93 areas contains no chlorine at all, while there is low concentration of chlorine in piped water distributed in many other areas. A total of 120 volunteers from all five municipalities took 1,552 samples to prepare the report, to be published after Tihar.
“The report has shown that piped water distributed in the Valley is not at all suitable for drinking. It shows the poor condition of water and sanitation in our capital,” said Triratna Manandhar, a programme officer at the NGO Forum for Urban Water and Sanitation (NGOFUWS). The survey was conducted by NGOFUWS with supports from UN-HABITAT, as part of Cholera Mitigation Campaign 2007.
The problem of absence of chlorine in piped water has hit the small town of Kirtipur the hardest. Out of the seven points examined there, piped water distributed in four places — Dhusitole, Nagaun, Tyanglaphant, Khasibazar — had no chlorine at all.
In Kathmandu, 11 places out of 57 survey points showed that piped water distributed there is totally lacking in chlorine. The places where water is distributed without chlorine include Ombahal, Chapali, Hyoomata, Jaishideval, Dhokatol, Bauddha Phulbari, Goldhunga Balaju, Maruhiti, Thapathali, In addition, over 75 per cent of the tests in Maru, Jhochhen, Indrachowk, Guchhatole, Yatkhabahal, Milanchowk Kapan showed nil chlorine in those areas.
Out of 12 points in Bhaktapur, severe problem of chlorine deficiency was observed only in Katunje. Lalitpur is relatively less affected. Only in Sundhara, 80 per cent of tests resulted in nil chlorine.
On the contrary, chlorine concentration was found to be high in a number of areas. The areas with high chlorine in Kathmandu are Putalisadak Newplaza, Maharajgunj Chakrapath, Milanchowk Baneshwor and Jhwabahal. In Lalitpur, Nirmalbasti of Satdobato was found to be the only area where the concentration of chlorine was high.
Only nine spots of Kathmandu and two of Kirtipur are blessed with normal concentration of chlorine. The areas include Dhapasi Chauki, Old Baneshowr, Tankeshowr, Wotu, Dallu Awas, Chhetrapati Chowk, Bijeshwwri, Soaltimod and Pepsikola Koreshwor of Kathmandu and Kamalpokhari of Kirtipur. Generally, 0 to 0.2 milligramme of chlorine in one litre of water is considered less, 0.2 to 0.5 mg is considered normal and 0.5 to 1 mg is taken as high concentration. “The WHO has set that 0.2 to 0.5 mg of chlorine in a litre of water is standard. Less than it means that bacteria still live in the water and excessive chlorine in long term may cause cancer to the public,” said Rosha Raut, lab in-charge at the Nepal Environment and Public Health Organisation.
The study was conducted in 56 places in Kathmandu, 11 places in Lalitpur, 12 places in Bhaktapur, seven places in Kirtipur and three places in Thimi.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Call for clean development projects

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, October 18:

Nepal has urged the international community working for Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) to encourage participation
of the private sector in small-scale projects that provide social and environmental benefits.
“Our agenda in the third meeting of the CDM Designated National Authority (DNA) Forum in Ethiopia was to lobby for private sector’s participation in CDM projects,” said Batu Krishna Uprety, the chief of the Environment Assessment Section at the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology, talking with this daily.
Uprety recently returned to Nepal after participating in the meeting organised by the secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in the UN Conference Centre in Addis Ababa of Ethiopia.
The participants of the meeting focused on capacity needs of CDM, need for raising awareness on CDM at political level and use of existing framework of cooperation. “We considered CDM to be a mechanism for economic development and adaptation on climate change,” he said.
“I stressed on how profit-making private sector could participate in social benefits related CDM projects, and the need for exploring and supporting for further participation of public sector in such small scale CDM projects,” he said. “I raised the issues related to methodologies of the small scale biomass projects with focus on realistic baselines, social responsibilities of the DNA in developing and implementing CDM projects and capacity building of stakeholders,” he added.
“It was a great opportunity to raise our voice in such big forum. Our voice needs to be heard so that we can take advantage of CDM and time has come that we would earn money through carbon trading,” he said.
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Monday, October 15, 2007

Russian wants to traverse the world by 2010

• Heads to Pokhara from City on foot
• Aims to act in Bollywood flicks


Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, October 14:

After travelling in Kathmandu for a week, 33-year-old Russian world-traveller Sergej Chikachev headed to Pokhara on foot today.
He was uncertain of his future when he left his home near Moscow on August 2004 with some 2,000 US dollars in his pocket, but as time passed, after going through ups and downs on the way, he is now pretty sure that he would leave his footprints in 100 countries by the end of 2010.
“What you need during long-distance travelling is your brain. You need language, friends, information, attention and curiosity, but on top of it all, brain guides you all the way,” he said talking to this daily.
Most of the time, he travels on foot. With a 35-plus-kg rucksack on his back, he has walked over 10,000 kilometres till date. “Among others, I cannot forget walking across the Gobi desert and the dense jungle of Indonesia,” he said, adding that he had to draw water from fog using a cup and T-shirt when he was lost in the Gobi desert. Still, he thinks the frost, snowfall, hunger, thirst and fatigue in Tibet are the most unbearable.
He has travelled in dozens of countries in Asia, but he has never stayed in any hotel or guesthouse. He always finds friends in new countries, who offer him bed and meals. He said: “Besides food and bed, I get information about the country.”
From Russia, he travelled across Mongolia, China, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Australia before going across scores of small countries in the Pacific and then to China again.
“Apart from walking, I hitch-hike or get free tickets — for bus, train, ship and even for airplanes in business class. I don’t beg, they offer me,” he said.
He spent most of his money in acquiring a visa. “I wish the whole world terminates the visa system; international travel would become tremendously easy if that happened,” he said. Quite often, language causes problem for him. By using Esperanto language, he contacts the local people, who help him on the way.
After travelling in Nepal, he is planning to go to India, where he aims to work as an actor in Mumbai.
Then, he will proceed to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Africa, Latin America, the USA and Europe. “After completing this round, I will travel around the world on an off-road vehicle,” he said.
He shares his experience by writing articles in a Russian web magazine “Argumenty A Facty”, the remuneration from which goes to his wife and son.
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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Water, sanitation projects making tardy progress

Water, sanitation projects making tardy progress

Razen Manandhar
Of 527 projects, only 115 will be over by year-end

Kathmandu, October 6:

Work on water and sanitation projects, one of the major sectors of infrastructure development, is not moving at a satisfactory pace in the districts.
A document describing the details of present status of the projects shows that the Department of Water Supply and Sewerage (DWSS) is working on 527 projects. However, only 115 projects will be completed this year. The government is working on 148 old projects and 227 new projects.
The government will spend Rs 1.2 billion to complete the projects, which are expected to benefit 3.5 lakh people.
Water and sanitation projects are underway in all 75 districts, but no district will be able to complete all its projects this year.
An official at the DWSS said that the government undertakes new projects just to “highlight them in progress reports” and make the donors believe that work is in progress. “But they (the government) do not want to complete the projects because it will render many of the project employees jobless,” he said, seeking anonymity.
The DWSS has added 16 projects in the existing five and continuing two projects
in Nuwakot district. But none of the projects will be completed this year.
Eleven projects are underway in Surkhet, 10 in Sindhupalchowk, 8 in Bhaktapur, 7 in Dolkha and 6 in Saptari. However, none of these projects are going to be completed this year.
Sixteen such projects are underway in Morang, 15 in Gulmi, 14 in Gorkha, 12 in Baglung, 8 in Parbat and Darchula, 7 in Lamjung, 6 in Khotang and Bhojpur, 5 in Siraha, Makawanpur and Dhanusha. However, each of these districts will witness the completion of one project this year.
Development region-wise, 19 water and sanitation projects out of 102 in the eastern region, 30 out of 172 in the central region, 36 out of 136 in the western region, 18 out of 65 in the mid-western and 12 out of 52 in the far-western region will witness completion this year.
Asked to comment on this scenario, director-general of the DWSS, Hari Prasad Sharma, said that the department has not been able to meet the targets every year.
He said that the policy of the government of not releasing sufficient budget in all districts was to blame for the pace of progress. According to him, the “progress” in projects is more satisfactory compare to the past.
“We have to say that this much of progress is achievement. The delay in project completion occurs when the political leaders recommend more projects in their respective constituencies and the Ministry of Finance refuses to allocate budget for the completion of the projects,” he said.
The DWSS has a budget of Rs 2,650 million for various projects for the fiscal year 2064/65.
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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sanitation Projects in the Offing in Chitwan

THT Online
Kathmandu, September 26

The Department of Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation (DWSS), UN Shelter Programme UN-HABITAT) and local communities are working to provide total sanitation in two towns of Chitwan district.
In this connection, the Bharatpur and Ratnanagar municipalities, the DWSS and the UN- HABITAT recently signed an agreement to carry out Country Level Capacity Building of Stakeholders on Total Sanitation and Promotion of School-Led Total Sanitation programme.
The project will be implemented by DWSS in partnership with Water Supply and Sanitation Division, local non-governmental organisations and other stakeholders.
"This is a new effort to provide sanitation education in towns, which had been left unaddressed," said Dr Roshan Raj Shrestha, the chief technical advisor to UN-HABITAT, Water for Asian Cities programme.
In the $274,100 project, the DWSS will contribute $23,000, UN-HABITAT $97,600 and the remaining $153,500 will be provided by the local community.
The project will benefit 150 professionals, 1,000 students from 50 schools and 1,500 members of local child-clubs. In addition, it will help provide toilet facilities in 2,500 households.
"Our target is to provide health and hygiene services to all communities from two municipalities of Chitwan," he said.
The main objective of the programme is to take an initiative to institutionalise monitoring and evaluation system and also to make stakeholders responsible and accountable towards effective monitoring, evaluation, follow-up, reporting and documentation of health and sanitation programmes.
According to government reports, 54 per cent of the country's population still lacks latrines.
"The project has been prepared to empower the stakeholders and undertake monitoring and follow-up action with a view to promoting total sanitation for achieving Millennium Development Goals," Dr Shrestha added.
http://www.thehimalayantimes.com/fullstory.asp?filename=aFanata0vcqzpba2Ua7pa.axamal&folder=aHaoamW&Name=Home&dtSiteDate=20070926

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Piped water for landless in Tanahu village

Razen Manandhar
Tanahu, September 25:

First time in the country, over 400 families without proper land-ownership will have rinking water pipelines in a hilly village of Khairenitar in Tanahu district, around 30 km south-east of Pokhara.
The consumers of the locality have identified the families, which do not own legal land, as
“extremely poor” and have provided them with pipelines through special requests of the local consumer group, though according to the government rules, one requires to produce land-ownership certificate to subscribe to piped drinking water.
The 20.4-million-rupee-project of Khairenitar Small Town Water Supply and Sanitation Project (KSTWSSP) — a joint effort of the government, the consumers as well as the Asian Development Bank — is now in the final stage. The project is going to benefit 4,634 people in 808 households.
The project has earmarked Rs 19.8 million for water and Rs 0.5 million for sanitation. For this the government will provide a loan of Rs 6.5 million through Town Development Fund to the consumer groups.
In general, each of the subscribers has to pay Rs 16,000 but the extremely poor can get the same for Rs 7,800 in 24 installments. They will get additional free fitting service worth Rs 3,200. Poor who own houses, have to pay Rs 12,200 in 12 installments. For water, they will pay Rs 40 per month for 60 cubic litres of water and an additional Rs 6 for each cubic litre.
Some 855 households have already been provided with pipelines, of which eight are “extremely poor” and 13 are poor. KSTWSSP collected Rs 1.55 million in last fiscal year from them.
The project also provides building material worth Rs 2,500 to each of the poor families to build toilets.
However, the user group is facing problems, as the installed water treatment plant does not function properly during the monsoons. “With help of UN-HABITAT supported project, we will install a pre-treatment plant and work on capacity building for the consumers,” said Ram Chandra Upadhyaya, the secretary of the committee.
“The consumer group is now working on Khairenitar model as a demonstration project, making it a source of inspiration for surrounding towns,” said Laxmi Sharma, project officer of STWSSP for Asian Development Bank (ADB).
The project has a cost-sharing modality between the government and the beneficiaries.
[http://www.thehimalayantimes.com/fullstory.asp?filename=aFanata0sa2qzpba2Ua5ua.axamal&folder=aHaoamW&Name=Home&sImageFileName=]

Friday, September 07, 2007

Man in Japan sponsors Nepalis’ education

Razen Manandhar
Yokohama, September 6[2007]:

He calls it “Bazaro”, that’s the closest he comes to pronouncing the word bazaar. Over 20 people in the three-storey building in the Kusugaya area of Yakohama city work on different handicraft products from Nepal and he manages to dispatch them to over 700 shops all over the country. This is what he means by the organisation called “Nepali Bazaro”, which promotes Nepali products in Japan and provides scholarships to 200 Nepali children every year.
For the past 15 years, Tsucihya Kanji has been operating a kind of NGO in Yokohama, selling Nepali goods since 1992.
Kanji, in his late fifties, told The Himalayan Times, “Every morning, I wake up thinking about Nepal and my days end with Nepal’s images in my mind. The simple and honest Nepali faces come to my mind when I look at their products.”
“It is all I can do for my love to the country. It is my small effort to provide some comfort to Nepal. I wish I could do more,” he added.
His social work started in a small scale and a well-paid employee at Mitsubishi Electric Company, he slowly got himself obsessed with Nepal to the extent that he finally gave up his job in 1997 and concentrated on his firm Nepali Bazaro Ltd, which promotes Nepali craft products in Japan and provides scholarships for Nepali children out of the profit it makes.
Nepal Bazaro imports coffee, tea, spices, threads, cotton, incense sticks, embroidery works, clay works, bamboo works, and other crafts goods. And after re-packing them with information of the products in Japanese language, he dispatches them to Japanese shops.
For the past six years, he has been providing scholarships to over 200 students and is thinking of doing something more. “We are now thinking about providing scholarships to more students,” he said.
He said the demand for Nepali products is growing in Japan these days. Earlier, it was tough introducing some thing from Nepal, a country known to few people in Japan.
“We used to roam around shops, from mornings to evenings and tried to leave some goods to be displayed at their windows. First they openly refused to give space and later agreed to take in the condition that they would pay us back only after those goods are sold. And it went on endlessly,” he said.
The consumers love Nepali goods because they are natural, organic, and comfortable for wearing, according to him.
“Nepalis are hard-working but they are yet to understand the significance of quality production. Sometimes, it becomes really difficult to work with them. Still, I’m hopeful that the quality of production will improve,” he said.
Among others, he has taken initiatives to run a proper shop named “Verda” to promote goods from Nepali Bazaro in Yokohama. He said that in the bustling city like Yokohama, his shop is doing “not bad” business and more than profit, he is concentrating on introducing Nepali products in the country. Apart from this, he has published six books on Nepali folk stories in Japanese language. (Mr Manandhar was recently in Japan)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

This is Yokohama

It's fun being here in Japan. It was in 8.30 I arrived in Narita Airport. After a lenghy process of document checking (in comparison to Nepal, it was not so irritating. I remember, the "Nepali" official at TIA was not ready to leave me because I did not cash the usual 1500 dollars). And my press card helped me to save from being sent back!

After travelling from Kathmandu to Bangkok. I had to wait around three hours at Bangkok Airport. The market there was wonderful. And I had no intention to buy anything. And, to my surprise, Anil recognised me in the crowd. We used to study in American Language Centre, may by by 1995! He was going to Sydny for his banking training. it was a nice meeting.

And the flight to Narita was intolerable. I hardly slept for half an hour and all the night I spent moving from right to left.

In the morning today, it was fresh. I entered to security and presented my passport. The girl asked me if it was my first visit, I said yes. And she called another person who led me to a new room and did a small interview kind of thing. She copied all my documents and then let me in!!

Outside, I saw Hirokaz Doi kaj Cxieko Doi, who had invited me. They were nice to wait for me for over an hour. I was scheduled to be 7.30. After driving for around one an a half hour, the took me to Yokohama, were the world congress of Esperanto would take place. Then we moved to meet some other local Esperantists before we finally went to their home.

Then I had a chance to visit their work-room and then to the amazing Esperanto-library they have - there were over 500 Esperanto book there! Of course, hte Esperanto-movement in Japan has been over 100 years. They themselves have published over a hundred books. We Nepalis should learn something from them - not only to take advantage of it, but also to contribute for the international language.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The MoEST to have a separate department for environment conservation soon

By Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, July 25[2007]:
MoEST is doing homework to set up a Department of Environment Conservation. A draft concept paper in this regard will soon be forwarded to the chief secretary for final approval. A special team headed by joint secretary Khumraj Punjali has been formed to develop a framework for the department. “A separate department will give a boost to our environment conservation initiatives,” said Punjali.

According to the framework developed so far, the department will have six sections — environmental planning and auditing, pollution control and standard, laboratory and research, communication, law and administration. As per the framework, the new department will have less than 50 civil servants.

The MoEST believes that the department will be run by staffers of several government offices, who are capable but are lying idle. “So, it is not going to be a big financial liability for the ministry. Nonetheless, we will have to assign duties and responsibilities to staffers,” he said.

A government officer said, “The budget will not be a problem for the department as we have not been able to utilise budget allocated for us. Inability to execute projects is the problem.”

“The department will be outside Singha Durbar premises. This way, more and more people will visit us and we will interact with them on various issues,” the official said.

Source: The Himalayan Times, July 26, 2007

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Melamchi office and staffers to be shifted to project site

Posted by Triratna Manandhar

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, July 22[2007]
The New Baneshwor-based office of the Melamchi Water Supply Project (MWSP) will be shifted to the project site — Melamchi Pool Bazaar of Sindhupalchowk — within a week. Though the decision to shift the office of the project, primarily responsible for bringing water from the Melamchi valley to the Kathmandu valley, was taken long time ago, the decision was not implemented.
The office, manned by over 100 staffers, is being shifted as per the direction of Minister for Physical Planning and Works, Hisila Yami. “The MWSP office will be shifted to the project site in a week or so, and the staffers’ strength will also be downsized so as to run the project more smoothly,” Ishwari Prasad Paudyal, spokesperson for the Ministry of Physical Planning and Works, told this daily.
The ministry has noted that the expenditure in the capital-based project office has been rising while locals of Melamchi have to come to the capital even to lodge complaints.
Taking into account the efficiency of MWSP staffers, the number of staffers will be reduced to a maximum of 80, Paudyal said.
Source: The Himalayan Times, July 23, 2007

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Excess staff, strike hit water supply body

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, July 18:

Staffers of the Nepal Water Supply Corporation have been on strike for the past three months, hitting drinking water supply in the capital. According to the government records, the capital is in need of 190 million litres of water daily while the government body has been able to supply only 80 to 90 million litres per day.
The water supply has been in disarray for years. After every government change, hundreds are appointed in the corporation due to political pressure. Sources said former minister of physical planning and works Gopal Man Shrestha was responsible for at least 150 appointments in the corporation.

“Over-staffing is spoiling our corporation. We have to employ more persons after every government change but there is no one to take care of the degrading distribution system,” Gautam Bahadur Amatya, the general manager of the NWSC, told this daily.He added that the “illegal recruitment” was rampant and some of them hired on daily-wage basis were enjoying the perks reserved for those on contract.

At present, the corporation has 2,252 on its staff, of which 1,579 are permanent. As many as 12 staffers are working on 1,000 pipelines in Nepal. “The pipeline to staffers ratio is incredibly high. Countries like Singapore, Philippines and South Korea are rendering far better service with one-third staff,” said Amatya. Chairman of NWSC Management Board Dr Laxmi Prasad Devkota said the board needed to take the bold and unpopular decision of cutting its staff. One of the prerequisite of handing over the NWSC to private company for successful implementation of Melamchi Water Supply Corporation was laying-off “excessive” staffers.

On the other hand, the trade unions claim that it won’t be fair to “dump” those who had been working for the corporation for years. Raj Kumar Thapa, secretary of the Joint Struggle Committee, said, “The management acted irresponsibly by not extending our friends’ contracts.”

NWSC forced shut
KATHMANDU: A joint-struggle committee of two trade unions of the Nepal Water Supply Corporation on Wednesday forced shut the office, as the management refused to extend the contract of 255-odd persons working for NWSC. Some of the trade union activists were hurt when the cops intervened while they were trying to lock the office door. — HNS

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Biogas plants to be installed in Valley

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, July 7[2007]:

The Water for Asian Cities (WAC) is extending partial financial support for construction of several biogas plants across the Kathmandu valley and develop them as models.

The construction aims at spreading a message that direct disposal of drain-water and waste in the rivers can be largely reduced by producing biogas from the wastes and help keep rivers cleaner.

WAC, a part of the UN-Habitat, is partially funding the construction of biogas plants in Khokna, Godavari, Kalimati, Patan, Tribhuvan University premises, Amrit Science College premises and Thimi.

“By promoting biogas plants in urban areas, we want to prove that we can contribute greatly to solid waste management and keeping the rivers free from pollution,” said Manandhar, a programme associate at the WAC. The demonstration plants will encourage installation of similar plants in the city localities, she said.

A biogas plant established at Manokranti Meditation Centre at Godawari has recently come into operation. The plant is fed with human night-soil to produce biogas for a canteen run at the centre. There are plans to install two plants on the premises of Tribhuwan University.

Each in the Boys’ Hostel on the TU premises and the Central Department of Environment Sciences (CDES).

Likewise, a biogas plant is also being installed at the hostel of Amrit Science College, Lainchour, where night-soil and other organic waste will be fed. Another biogas plant is being installed at the vegetable market at Dhapagal of Patan, which will be fed with vegetable waste produced in the area.

Meanwhile, the waste-water treatment plant at Sungaa of Thimi Municipality is also being converted into a biogas plant. Further, construction of a community-level biogas plant at the Khokna village of Lalipur has completed. A study is being carried out to establish a biogas plant to manage the vegetable waste produced at the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market as well.
[ KATHMANDU, JULY 08, 2007, Ashad 24, 2064]

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Poor to pay dear for Melamchi water

Razen Manandhar Kathmandu, July 4

Once the ambitious Melamchi Water Supply Project (MWSP) sees the light of day, private water vendors will literally sell water, especially to the poor living in the slums of the valley.A Low Income Consumer Support Unit (LICSU), a side project of the MWSP, is going to handle the supply to the poor through local interested bodies who will collect money from the poor for letting them use the community taps, to be installed for the the slums dwellers and the squatters.

The LICSU will be a part of Kathmandu Upatyaka Khanepani Limited, the authority to generate water sources and manage and distribute the water supply in the valley.

After consulting the LICSU, the management contractor will prepare a plan — Community Tap Improvement Plan (CTIP) — to improve the service from the standposts. It will detail the LICSU’s role in managing the drinking water in slums by transferring management responsibility for existing standposts to either Water User Groups, municipalities or private water vendors, according to the draft contract paper of MWSP.
It is not clear who will be the water vendors, and how they will be authorised to collect money from the slum dwellers for using taps.

The water utility office and the operators of the community taps will reach a community tap connection agreement (CTCA). The management contractor will not be responsible to relocate the old community taps. “The funding for the relocation of the existing standposts and the construction of new community taps will be obtained from external sources,” adds the contract paper, without clarifying the source.
As per the contract, up to 350 new community taps will be installed in the valley. As per the arrangement, the LICSU should have called local operators by May 1, but the controversy surrounding the Melamchi project has delayed that.

Diwas Bahadur Basnet, the team leader of LICSU project, says the project intends to provide drinking water at affordable price. “We are doing our best to provide water to the poor, who, otherwise, will be deprived access to water,” he said.

Source: The Himalayan Times, July 5 2007, www.thehimalayantimes.com

Friday, June 15, 2007

Yami to write to ADB today on her terms

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu , June 14[2007]: The Ministry of Physical Planning and Works is writing a "final" letter to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) tomorrow on its stance on the Melamchi Water Supply Project.

"We will write to the ADB tomorrow, requesting it to let the Melamchi project materialise the way we want," Minister for Physical Planning and Works Hisila Yami told this daily today. The ADB headquarters sent a letter to the ministry yesterday, urging Yami to clarify her stance. The ADB also asked the ministry to respond at the earliest so that Nepal's final stance on the project can be discussed at the ADB's board meeting, slated for June 16 in Manila.

The ADB has been asking the government to adhere to what the former government decided ― let the British company, Severn Trent Water International (ST), work ― if it wants the ADB loan for the $500m project.

The ministry has said it will accept the ADB loan if the government chooses any other means of institutional reformation for distribution of water in the valley, except the handover of the operation of valley's water distribution system to the ST.

Ruling out the "comeback of the ST", Yami said she has a new plan to let Nepali or other foreign experts handle the valley's water distribution system.

She said that the ministry is now working on strengthening the Kathmandu Upatyaka Khane pani Limited, Kathmandu Valley Water Board and Tariff Fixing Committee.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Pact to rid Tarai water of arsenic

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, June 3[2007]:
The government, along with three international partners, will spend over one million dollars over the coming 18 months to mitigate the adverse effect of arsenic, a type of carcinogenic mineral found in most of groundwater in Tarai.

A Memorandum of Understanding to this effect was signed today between the Department of Water Supply and Sewerage and three UN organisations.

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) agreed to support Nepal, pledging a fund of over $1,182,192. The fund will be spent on 20 arsenic-prone districts by the end of 2008.

As per the MoU, the DWSS shall allocate Rs 27,692,000 ($395,600) to purchase test kit reagents, arsenic removal options/components and supplies for new wells.
The UN-HABITAT shall contribute $303,661 to support the cost of training, well testing, supervision, monitoring and entry of information into the arsenic management information

database; support public information dissemination; and supply arsenic removal filter components.

The WHO shall contribute $28,000 to support capacity building for arsenicosis screening and management and develop district surveillance and patient referral systems according to the attached Project Proposal and Budget.

The UNICEF shall contribute $302,931 to support the cost of well testing, supervision and monitoring, verification tests, material for reinstalling wells, installation of filters and dissemination of test results in the districts. The project will conduct tests in around 350,000 wells. It will cover around 3.5 million people through well-testing and 135,000 people through arsenic mitigation.

Dr Roshan Raj Shrestha, chief technical adviser to the UN-HABITAT, said that the overall aim of the project is to address the problem of arsenic contamination in drinking water in 20 Tarai districts, through a programme of blanket testing of all wells providing drinking water, provide and promote options to avoid arsenic contaminated water or remove arsenic from drinking water and identify arsenic affected persons and support the case management of arsenicosis patients.

The MoU was signed by Ishwor Man Tamrakar, director general of the DWSS, Atoine King, the director of Programme Support Division of the UN-HABITAT, Han Heijnen, the
Environmental Health Advisor of WHO and Larry Robertson, the chief of CWE Section of the UNICEF.

Over the last three years, the testing activities have been scaled up through DWSS (with UNICEF support) and up to March 2007, over 637,000 wells have been tested in 13 districts.

Out of this, 8 per cent of the wells showed concentrations higher than the WHO guideline value of 10 ppb, whereas around 2.3 per cent of the wells exceeded the Nepali Interim Standard of 50 ppb. Based on these test results, it is estimated that over one million people living in Tarai districts may be drinking water with an arsenic concentration higher than the WHO guideline, and nearly 300,000 people are using arsenic contaminated water higher than the government’s interim guideline value of 50 ppb.
[ KATHMANDU, JUNE 04, 2007, Jestha 21, 2064 ]

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Lobbying on to bring back Bikram tempos

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, June 1[2007]:

The Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology (MEST) is making secret arrangements to bring back diesel-run Bikram tempos back in the capital streets.
Following a series of protests, environmentalists had finally succeeded in banning the polluting Bikram tempos three-and-a-half years ago.
The government had then introduced a plan for the Bikram owners to replace the two-stroke diesel-run vehicles with gas or battery operated ones. The government had made a provision for them whereby they could import one microbus or two sets of three wheelers with 75 per cent tax exemption.
“Some parties are piling pressure on the ministry to grant permission to two parties who want to import diesel-run three wheelers,” a source in the ministry said.
Without naming them, he said a motorcycle importer and an eminent industrial group have been urging the ministry to make an “extraordinary” decision on importing the banned vehicles.
“The ministry’s regulations have no provision of granting permission to import diesel-run three-wheelers. But they claim that the ones they would bring in are ‘improved’ ones. They also want us to revise the regulation or ignore it altogether so that a decision could be taken to let them import the vehicles,” the source said.
While two rounds of meetings of “stakeholders” have taken place in the ministry in this regard, a third round was scheduled for today. The source added that the parties plan to import an infinite number of “dangerous” vehicles in Nepal.
Joint-secretary at the MEST Khumraj Punjali admitted that two parties have approached the ministry for acquiring licences to import diesel three-wheelers. He refused to give details and said the ministry is not taking any decision very soon.
“It is very disappointing that some businessmen are again planning something that will give rise to air pollution in the Valley,” said Bhushan Tuladhar, executive chairman of Environment and Public Health Organisation.
Gopal Raj Joshi, the chief of Clean Energy Nepal, said environmentalists would obviously come to the streets again, adding no prominent environmentalist was invited to the so-called stakeholders’ meetings.
[ KATHMANDU, JUNE 02, 2007, Jestha 19, 2064 ]
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Friday, June 01, 2007

INGOs plan Bengal tiger census in Nepal

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, January 30[2007]:

Various international non-government organisations are making plans to carry out a census of Bengal tigers (Panthera tigris) in Nepal’s national parks.
Recent studies have put the number of the wild cats in Nepal at about 350 to 375.
A tiger survey has been initiated in the Bardia National Park with a focus on the Babai river floodplain. A team of seven park personnel will start monitoring from the Chepang area, the gateway of the Babai, according to the last updated draft of the tiger count plan.
“We are currently working on methods to conduct a survey in the national parks to find
out how many tigers are living in the habitat, which is constantly under human threat,” Dr Ghanashyam Gurung, the action country representative of WWF Nepal, told The Himalayan Times.
He expressed the hope that the count will most probably begin this season with support from various other institutions and will last for some six months.
“This is the first time the WWF is initiating such a survey. The past five years of the insurgency have had a marked impact on wildlife population in the Babai river floodplain,” he said.
Gurung added that the WWF will also develop a congregated methodology of counting rhinos. He, however, refused to comment on the financial aspect of the surveys.
The current tiger population estimation is based on various sources and surveys carried out in the past three decades.
However, it has been felt that there is insufficient information on the demographic patterns of the tigers such as population structure, spatial distribution, home-range size, movements, social organisations, age-structure, survival rate, extent for breeding etc, according to a recent outline document for tiger conservation.
Currently, three isolated areas in Nepal remain as tiger habitats. Chitwan occupies the largest area where 75 per cent of the tigers are within protected areas. The other two populations are those in Bardia and Shuklaphanta.
A $1million revised action plan to conserve tigers and their habitat is on the final stage of drafting. It will consolidate various programmes on tigers for the coming five years.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

"Nepal Adahrsha 41"


My school, my pride!
I’m proud of many things. And today I’m really proud of my school. There is nothing special in my school itself – all schools in the world are as good as mine. What made me proud is that I belong to the group of people who are proud of their schools. Indeed, the beloved school produced them all.
A blissful rendezvous took place yesterday 92007-05-12) at Park Village, who had appeared in SLC ten years ago (…) from Nepal Adarsha Madhyamik Bidhyalaya, (Ganabahal, Kathmandu, Nepal). I really felt nostalgic may be for the first time for my na├»ve, simple and straightforward school days. Those were the days – I murmured.
I felt embarrassed Raj and Suresh told me about this programme two weeks ago. I hardly remembered anybody from my class. I tried to remember some – Gautam, Sanuraja, Ujwal, Rabindra, Bishwa, Aishwayarya and some. I visited at Ujwal’s and asked him to find some more friends. I later failed to collect any as he himself could not participate.
I was wondering what kind of faces I would see when I went to Mahakal temple at 2.00 pm. I saw some familiar faces – I recognized them just because I was told that they would be there.
And the after waiting for some more minutes we took off to the venue. We felt uncomfortable in the luxurious and formal hall – it was like a seminar – always a ‘no-no’ for me. Some refereed to be in the garden and some said the verandah would be okay. But we had to be in the hall.
After a lengthy introduction round – lengthy because hardly anybody would remember you from the crowd just because you tell them your name. It was still interesting to listen to the names you had forgotten long ago.
The discussion turned serious as Ashakaji proposed to help the school as it is in misery. Different ideas sparked all of a sudden and our gathering turned into a serious discussion what most of us did not want. I suggested continuing it two parts –one be an informal gathering and another be a brainstorming to support the school.
We all realized that gathering like it was necessary and should be held frequently. We came to a point of making a website and an e-group. Some added that telephone list would also be necessary as many do not have access to internet.
A refreshing tea break brought us closer and started gossipy comments - who changed how much, who is working where and who has how many children and so on. I could not hear if some were recalling they school day romance - only two of the pairs materialised their dreams. Many among us are living abroad. I have a secret to tell – only one among us was fortunate to remain unmarried – don’t tell others... It was followed by a jolly photo session.
The second part was really serious. First, a proposal came to make a fund by contributing regularly so that it could be used a capital to issue loan for our members. It was a good idea but we preferred to concentrate on making charity for the school.
Then we jumped into the possibility of helping the school. We all were aware that our dear school was in deplorable condition and we felt as if it was asking us for some help. Genius, interesting, and thought-provoking ideas spouted one after another. Let me jot them without giving the credit for each.
=The school is now in deplorable condition. It lack students, the SLC results are discouraging and there is no incentives for parents to enroll their children there.
=We may collect fund by ourselves by paying Rs 50 or 100 per month to contribute the fund to the school. We may later go to industrialists who had studied in our school for bigger fund.
=We may help school in collecting children.
=We may provide sponsorship for some needy students.
=We may also sponsor some brilliant students so that the school’s SLC result will improve.
=We may raise a fund to pay some good teachers for taking extra classes as SLC preparation course for some selected students.
=We may collect some money for the school by organizing a cultural programme.
=We can invite the teachers for a dinner and discuss over the situation of the school and ask them what we can do for them.
And followed some critical comments too:=Money is not the problem for the school.
=It is the internal problem of two factions in the management or the teachers, which should be solved.
=How can the school improve when a teacher is running a private boarding school at his home?=We all love our school but we should not forget the ground reality.
=We should not propose any help to the school that it may not welcome or need.
=Our help would be meaningful only if the school management disapproves=We should understand the cause behind this deterioration.
=Trying to collect student for our school is meaningless if the teachers themselves do not enroll their children in the school they care for.

Let me come to my points now. There is no doubt, I love my school, I honour my teachers and wish all the best I can for the school’s future. Beside this sentiment, I believe that the school does not need our help. We all know that the government schools are harvesting good crops every year. They don’t care if the number of student is going down or they are giving shameful results in SLC (I’m not talking about some newsmakers). Our dear school is also running in sufficiency if not in affluence. Regardless of the bleak image, the teachers are well paid and have much more facilities than they deserve. So much so, some private school teachers recently staged a demonstration, demanding as much of payments as the government school teachers are cashing.
What our school lacked is commitment and transparency. First they must be committed to continue the 55-year old legacy of the school. Then they should make the school suitable for the present students’ demand – glorious history is not enough to run a school in this century. On the top of it, we see the school slowly turning into a business mall – there is a printing press, a motorbike workshop, a grocery and what not. When the teachers are not paying attention to decreasing number of students, they are making money out of the vacant classrooms. If we really love our school and feel a sense of responsibility toward it, we must seek the details of the school’s income and expenditures. This is the intervention we can make and the school really deserves. Are we ready? But of course, there is no doubt that we must feel the pain if the school is suffering and be ready to offer our small helping hands – as much as we could.
Finally, we made a 10-member team to go to the school and talk with the school management. We would rather ask them what help we could offer. And after that we will visit the school in group.
Yes. We made it a decision to make similar gathering once a year and one of the gathering is going to take place in the school itself!
After the hot discussion, we really did not want to go for merry making as we planned. We again wanted to go to the Budhanilkantha temple but, we sat in the bar and waited for the dinner. After the nice dinner, we came back to our present day world, we have to live with.