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Nepal’s decision to ban sand, stone export to hit India
KATHMANDU, JAN 5 (IANS):
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Published on 5 Jan. 2010 10:56 PM IST
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Nepal’s decision to ban the export of sand, boulders and crushed stone to prevent environmental degradation is going to hit hard India’s booming construction industry, especially in the Terai plains close to the Nepal border. A parliamentary panel on natural resources Monday directed the coalition government to immediately stop the export of sand and stone to India after growing concern that the depletion was making the region environmentally fragile. The sand and stone were primarily exported from Nepal’s Terai plains and the Chure-Bhawar region. The Chure hills are the Siwalik mountains at the foothill of the Himalayas and run parallel to southern Nepal, with an average height of 900 meters. An explorer’s paradise and rich in fossils of mammals and birds that have become extinct, the ranges have been subjected to uncontrolled excavation to export boulders and crushed stone to India, amounting to nearly 800,000 tonnes, including sand, daily. Accusing political parties and bureaucrats of malpractice in the region, the parliamentary committee has asked the government to draw up a Master Plan for the protection of the area. The chairman of the committee, Shanta Chaudhary, has ordered seven ministries - home, local development, forest and soil conservation, commerce and supplies, finance, environment, and commerce-to stop the export, warning that over-exploitation of the natural resources was causing landslides, floods and massive forest degradation. There have been warnings by environmental experts that if not checked immediately, the ongoing denudation would one day turn the Terai plains - Nepal’s food basket - into a desert. However, parliamentary committee’s directive has triggered protests from Nepal’s biggest umbrella of industries, the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry. The federation says nearly 130 industries operate in Nepal, crushing stone. They have invested about NRS 40 billion. While exporting products to India worth about NRS 5 billion, they have also been paying the government taxes worth NRS 2.5 billion. The federation says the industries have been working within environmental guidelines and has urged the government to study before imposing a sweeping ban.

 
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