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 ]