Industrial area project affects plan of community forest

Kathmandu : The government’s initiative to establish industrial area in Shaktikhor, Chitwan has affected the preparation to open Udayapur Community Improved Furniture Industry, putting the plan of community forest in dilemma.

Earlier, the Ministry of Forest and Environment had provided four necessary machines to establish Community Improved Furniture Industry. Now, the machines are gathering dust at Udayapur Community Forest.  The plan to establish Community Improved Furniture Industry was taken ahead with an objective to provide windows, doors, chairs and tables, among other wooden things, to the consumers.

Community forest Vice-Chairman Sudarshan Adhikari said the plan to open a timber industry has not moved ahead due to the government’s initiative to establish an industrial area in Shaktikhor, Chitwan. Machines have been kept on the premises of community forest office. “The work has not gained momentum as per the plan. Water sources will dry once the trees are cut down to establish the industrial area. That is why, we have not made any decision about the next step,” Adhikari said.

The proposed industrial area lies in Ward 3, 7 and 8 of Kalika Municipality, and Ward 7 of Ichhayakamana Rural Municipality. The proposed industrial area occupies 812.99 hectares of land of Udayapur Community Forest, 338 hectares of land of Thangkhola Community Forest and 27 hectares of land of Tinkalya Community Forest.

According to Industrial Area Management Limited, there will be hospital, furniture, meat processing center and chemical production factory, among other things, within the industrial area.  According to the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report, there are around 242, 829 trees in the proposed industrial area. The report stated that 159, 874 trees will be cut down while establishing the industrial area. The EIA report further stated that 1, 178 hectares of forest land will be changed permanently, affecting the conserved species of vegetation and habitat of wild animals.

Similarly, the environment will also be affected due to the use of machinery equipment and operation of big vehicles. Likewise, the report also stated that the industrial area and surrounding villages will have to bear the brunt if the garbage and rain water are not managed properly. The EIA report has asserted that there will be job opportunities and the number of tourists will increase after the establishment of industrial area.

Meanwhile, Udayapur Community Forest Consumers’ Committee has reached Singha Durbar with a complaint that the entire forest area will be destroyed if the industrial area is established in Shaktikhor. Forest Consumers’ Committee Chairman Keshav Lama and other members of the committee have urged the government to find an alternative as the establishment of industrial area will affect the eco-system.

According to the Chairman Lama, the government has not taken any decision yet. Chitwan Udhyog Banijya Sangh, Industrial Area Management Limited and Udayapur Community Forest had held rounds of talks at the local level in the past regarding the issue. Tripartite agreement has been made to address the demand of committee through discussion.

Though the establishment of industrial area will create job opportunities for some locals, it will not conserve water sources and rivers, Lama said.

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