Although a Supreme Court order has halted the planned road construction through Chitwan National Park, environmental activist Chanda Rana is yet to feel a respite.
“I was shocked how the government can take such a decision to destroy one of the world’s renowned conservation areas. Any work to damage the Chitwan National Park is unacceptable for all, particularly to people like me, who have been working to protect the flora, fauna and endangered habitats in Nepal. It is certain that the recent decision of the government to construct the road through the Chitwan National Park, the house of flora and fauna and home of enormous endangered species, is a great threat. How does this government dare think of such an idea that will finally ruin Chitwan,” Rana writes in her open letter to the prime minister.
Environmental activist Rana has done several activities in Chitwan. They include the report preparation on ''SAVE CHITWAN CAMPAIGN '' and submitted to the PM for implementation in 2001.
She also visited the site to collect information on the state of garbage dumping in Chitwan. Rana found that there was the need of a permanent landfill site for Chitwan where wastes used to be disposed at Rampur jungle negatively impacting habitats.
She also completed a study to find a way to control industrial pollution in the Narayani River. After visiting the sites, Rana prepared an action-oriented report collecting information from industries which were disposing their wastes at the Narayani River.
She also raised a question about the need to protect Beesh Hazari Taal in Chitwan. Environmental activist Rana also demanded Chitwan land use plan be implemented to control rapid urbanization there. Along with these, she also launched Chitwan Mikania control project. All these projects were carried out by Chanda Rana at her own initiatives.
The Supreme Court issued a stay order against the government's plan to construct the road through the Chitwan National Park. A single bench of SC Justice Prakash Wasti concluded that the construction of the road inside the world famous conservation area could adversely affect bio-diversity and directed the government not to move ahead with the plan.
The Ministry of Physical Planning and Works was planning to construct a road through the Chitwan National Park. From local political parties to CIAA and environmental activists like Rana, everyone was opposing the decision. The government is yet to make the final move.
“I would like to request the PM to correct the decision by cancelling the road project. Whatever the reasons they want to show, it is unacceptable to destroy the national park,” said Rana.
The parliamentary State Affairs Committee (SAC) has asked the Nepal Army (NA) and the defense ministry to furnish details of the road to be constructed through the Chitwan National Park.
The committee asked the NA if it allowed the Ministry of Physical Planning and Works to construct the over 50-kilometer road or the ministry was constructing the road keeping the national army in the dark.
“This issue is not only related to the security of international border, national park and deforestation but is also crucial in view of protecting the Chure range. At a time when the government is trying to protect the Chure range, it is unfortunate that it is destroying the forest,” writes Rana in her open letter to the PM.
“I raised the issue because such a massive construction is reportedly being planned without holding any discussion with concerned agencies. If the government will not stop the construction of road, local people and environmentalists will be compelled to launch protests. I would like to request the prime minister to intervene in the matter to construct the road through the national park, which is renowned as a habitat of the endangered one-horned rhino,” Rana said.
UNESCO had declared Chitwan National Park as a World Natural Heritage Site. The world famous park is one of the major attractions to tourists coming to Nepal.
“I would like to request Prime Minister Babuarm Bhattarai to withdraw and cancel the idea of construction of the Hulaki road inside the Park as soon as possible. This will show his government is being serious and responsible towards conservation. It is our duty to preserve our national park. Nature teaches us more than she preaches. There are no sermons in stones. It is easier to get spark out of a stone than a moral,” says Rana.