Supreme Court issued an Interim Order to stop all the activities regarding the clearing of the forest in Nijgadh for the construction of an international airport. After hearing from the petitioner, the division bench headed by chief justice Cholendra Sumsher Rana and Justice Kumar Regmi issued an interim order asking the government to stop all the activities.
The court decision was a historic milestone to preserve remaining portion of the highly valuable rain forest of Nepal’s terai and entire Gaga belt. The court order also gives a message that the environment and endangered wildlife are precious for the country.
This also gives to sigh of relief to conservationists and environmentalists who have been pleading to defend the highly valuable forest of Nijgadh.
Along with the habitat of the endangered Asiatic elephant, the forest area has pre-historic significant. Some of the trees within the areas are as much as 500 years old.
According to the EIA report, 2.4 million trees are required to clear for the construction of Nijgadh International Airport. However, lawyers argued that 90 million trees will be cleared for the construction of the airport.
Earlier, Single bench of Supreme Court headed by Justice Tank Bahadur Moktan issued an interim order on 27 November summoning both the parties to come to defend their case. In his interim order, Moktan issued an order not to touch the forest and areas.
Filed by former secretary Dwarkianath Dhungel, senior advocate Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, Shukdev Khatri, Dr. Chiranjibi Bhattarai, Pankaj Kumar Karna, Bijaya Kumar Singh Danuar, Ranju Hajur Pande Chhetri, Bharat Basnet, and Keshar Mani Aryal.
Senior advocates Krishna Prasad Bhandari, Dr, Surya Dhungel, Dr. Tara Prasad Sapkota, Dr. Surendra Bhandari and advocate Sunil Kumar Pokharel, Keshar Mani Aryal and Pankaj Kumar Karna.Dr. Tara Prasad Sapkota pleaded in the court.
Despite court interim order, Minister of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Yogesh Bhattarai has announced to start the clearance of forest from the end of November. Minister Bhattarai directed concerned officials to start the clearance of forest.
Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation has spent a lot of money recently through media in favor of Nijgadh Airport justifying cutting the trees for the international airport.
Although House of Representatives Committee led by former Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal also directed the government to move the present site five kilometers south, officials have been insisting that there is no alternative than to clear the forest.
Lalbakiya and Pasha, two major tributaries of the Bagmati river, are also passing from close to the airport site. Creating havoc during the monsoon in Nepal and India, change of river course will likely add further devastation in both the countries.
The petitioners have pleaded that the construction of an airport in Nijgadh damaged the environment badly thus demanded to move to other alternative sites nearby areas.
After the interim order of the court, the work of clearing forest in the proposed site will be halt. Under the EIA report, the Ministry of Forest and Environment gives permission to cut 2.4 million trees.
Filed by environmental activist and senior advocate Prakash Mani Sharma and ten other petitioners including environmental activist Chanda Rana and petitioner Sanjaya Adhikari on September 10, a public litigation petition is also under a hearing of division bench of Chief Justice Rana and justice Regmi. The petition has postponed from hearing today due to a lack of time.
In the petition filed by senior advocate Sharma, a single bench headed by justice Bam Kumar Shrestha ordered concerned authority and government of Nepal to appear before the court for an interim order and present EIA.