Nepal police yesterday demolished the largest remaining settlement of people displaced by a powerful earthquake that struck nearly two years ago, a move that will leave hundreds homeless. Around 100 families were still living in the camp in Kathmandu when police wearing riot gear used bulldozers to flatten the bamboo and tarpaulin structures. “The gods will curse the government. We don’t have our home and can’t rent a room from our earnings in Kathmandu,” said Kabita Limbu, tears rolling down her face. Limbu’s husband fainted when their tent was destroyed before the couple were able to retrieve their processions. Apsana Tamang, 19, was breastfeeding her one year-old baby in her makeshift home when the authorities arrived early morning. “I have nowhere to live as my parents’ house in Kavre district was also damaged in the earthquake,” said Tamang, who was pregnant when the 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal killing more than 9,000 people. “We have received nothing from the government or other organisations except food and tarpaulins.” About 2,000 people lived in the camp at its peak, but many had left in recent weeks after authorities gave residents a one month eviction notice. Despite the prior warning, residents were taken by surprise and rushed to gather their belongings from their homes as the bulldozers moved in. The government has faced mounting criticism for the slow pace of reconstruction following the earthquake, which destroyed more than one million homes. International donors pledged $4.1bn after the earthquake - the strongest to hit the impoverished Himalayan nation in 80 years. But political wrangling over control of the funds and formation of the government body to oversee the reconstruction effort meant the first instalments of a housing grant were only paid out in March 2016. The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) has now distributed the first Rs50,000 ($460) of a promised Rs300,000 grant to around 550,000 households. Govind Raj Pokharel, head of the NRA, said that he had forwarded a proposal to the government to provide an extra Rs200,000 grant to families who now needed to be relocated from the camp. But he acknowledged that the extra cash was not a panacea. “The main problem is there are limited options (to earn a) livelihood for the earthquake victims in their villages so they don’t want to return to their village,” Pokharel said. Nepalese homeless people carry their belongings from a makeshift camp for people displaced by the 2015 earthquake after it was demolished by police in Kathmandu yesterday.
Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal is scheduled to visit China next week to participate in the annual Boao Forum for Asia conference, a media report said yesterday. According to his personal aides, Prime Minister Dahal has started internal preparations to fly to China on March 24, My Republica daily said in the report. “The prime minister has received an invitation to address the conference. We have just started internal preparations on the visit,” said the premier’s press adviser Gobinda Acharya. Although the visit is being made to address the Boao conference that is themed “Globalisation and Free Trade-Asian Perspectives”, Dahal is likely to make a brief trip to Beijing from Hainan province and sign some major bilateral deals. The 2017 annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia is being held from March 23 to 26 in Boao, Hainan province. The official opening of the ceremony that is divided into four modules-globalisation, growth, reform and new economy - is scheduled to take place on March 25.
Nepal police on Tuesday demolished the largest remaining settlement of people displaced by a powerful earthquake that struck nearly two years ago, a move that will leave hundreds homeless. Around 100 families were still living in the camp in Kathmandu when police wearing riot gear used bulldozers to flatten the bamboo and tarpaulin structures. "The gods will curse the government. We don't have our home and can't rent a room from our earnings in Kathmandu," said Kabita Limbu, tears rolling down her face. Limbu's husband fainted when their tent was destroyed before the couple were able to retrieve their processions. Apsana Tamang, 19, was breastfeeding her one year-old baby in her makeshift home when the authorities arrived early morning. "I have nowhere to live as my parents' house in Kavre district was also damaged in the earthquake," said Tamang, who was pregnant when the 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal killing more than 9,000 people. "We have received nothing from the government or other organisations except food and tarpaulins." About 2,000 people lived in the camp at its peak, but many had left in recent weeks after authorities gave residents a one month eviction notice. Despite the prior warning, residents were taken by surprise and rushed to gather their belongings from their homes as the bulldozers moved in. The government has faced mounting criticism for the slow pace of reconstruction following the earthquake, which destroyed more than one million homes. International donors pledged $4.1bn after the earthquake -- the strongest to hit the impoverished Himalayan nation in 80 years. But political wrangling over control of the funds and formation of the government body to oversee the reconstruction effort meant the first instalments of a housing grant were only paid out in March 2016. The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) has now distributed the first 50,000 rupees ($460) of a promised 300,000-rupee grant to around 550,000 households. The head of the NRA Govind Raj Pokharel told AFP he had forwarded a proposal to the government to provide an extra 200,000 rupee grant to families who now needed to be relocated from the camp. But he acknowledged that the extra cash was not a panacea. "The main problem is there are limited options (to earn a) livelihood for the earthquake victims in their villages so they don't want to return to their village," Pokharel said.
Nepal has reported firmed an outbreak of severe H5N8 bird flu on a poultry farm in the Koshi region, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said yesterday, citing a report from the Nepalese authorities. The virus killed 3,650 of the 6,200 hens exposed, with the remaining animals culled, the Paris-based OIE said. Nepal had already reported last month an outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu among backyard chickens and ducks. In February, a fresh strain of bird flu case was detected in the tourist hub Pokhara. Local authority declared Khaltemasini and its vicinity as infected zone and called on stakeholders to halt transportation and distribution of birds. A farmer complained the death of her 11 chickens and 17 ducks, the sample were sent to regional veterinary laboratory for test on February 17. The test detected the presence of H5N1 virus. Birdflu was first detected in Nepal in 2009.
At least 141 people were arrested and 600 motorcycles seized in the Nepalese capital during the annual Hindu festival of Holi yesterday, police said. Thousands of revellers - their faces painted with coloured powder - thronged the streets of Kathmandu yesterday as people poured water over the crowd from rooftops. Security forces patrolled the city in a bid prevent scuffles that typically occur during the festival, which took place in Nepal’s mountainous region yesterday. South parts of the country will celebrate it today. Bam Bahadur Bhandari, deputy inspector general of the Metropolitan Police in Kathmandu, said 141 people were arrested for hurling water balloons and colour at pedestrians without their permission. He added that the motorcycles had been seized because the drivers had violated traffic rules and speed limits. India is set to celebrate the festival today. Holi, alternatively referred to as the Festival of Colours, marks the beginning of spring and the triumph of good over evil.
At least 141 people were arrested and 600 motorcycles seized in the Nepalese capital during the annual Hindu festival of Holi on Sunday, police said. Thousands of revelers - their faces painted with coloured powder - thronged the streets of Kathmandu on Sunday as people poured water over the crowd from rooftops. Security forces patrolled the city in a bid prevent scuffles that typically occur during the festival, which takes place in Nepal's mountainous region on Sunday and in the country's south on Monday. Bam Bahadur Bhandari, deputy inspector general of the Metropolitan Police in Kathmandu, said 141 people were arrested for hurling water balloons and colour at pedestrians without their permission. He added that the motorcycles had been seized because the drivers had violated traffic rules and speed limits. India is set to celebrate the festival on Monday. Holi, alternatively referred to as the Festival of Colours, marks the beginning of spring and the triumph of good over evil.
Nepal said it will investigate a report claiming poor women are being trafficked and duped into selling their skin to be used in the global cosmetic surgery market. An investigation by the Indian news website Youth Ki Awaaz (Voice of the Youth) said Nepali women were selling 20sq inches (130sq cm) of skin tissue from their backs for $150 to be used in plastic surgery. Women, Child and Social Welfare Minister Kumar Khadka said the government was shocked after reading the report published on March 6. “We are stunned by the report,” Khadka said. “We will investigate and if found to be correct, the government will make all efforts to stop this heinous crime and punish those responsible.” The trafficking of Nepalis from the impoverished Himalayan nation to neighbouring India for labour and sexual exploitation – and even kidney transplantation – is widely reported, but cases of trafficking in human skin tissue are unheard of. The report, by Indian journalist Soma Basu, said the Nepali women were trafficked to brothels in Indian cities such as Mumbai and then later duped into selling their skin. Some victims said they were drugged and their skin removed. The skin tissue, said the report, is sold onto pathology laboratories in India where it is processed and exported to companies in the United States which manufacture skin and tissue derivative products for the global plastic surgery market. Women’s rights activists called on the government to urgently investigate the report and launch public campaigns in high-risk, poorer districts of the country prone to trafficking. “The government should be serious about this and protect our women,” said Sunita Danuwar of Shakti Samuha, a charity which helps to rehabilitate victims of trafficking. “Mere lip service will make no difference and innocent villagers will continue to be trafficked for their organs like skin and kidneys.”
The death toll from a major bus crash in Nepal has risen to 26 after several people died of their injuries, local police said yesterday. The overcrowded passenger bus veered off a mountain road in north-western Nepal on Thursday, killing 26 people dead and injuring 36 others, said Suman Kharel, police inspector in Jajarkot district. “Among the injured, four are being treated at the district hospital and the rest have been airlifted to Nepalgunj (the nearest town,” Kharel said. The bus was heading west to Khara village from the district headquarters of Khalnga. The bus fell 200m downhill and plunged into a stream in the village of Bohara Gaun. “Most of the passengers were local people travelling to their home,” he said. The single-lane paved road, which connects villages with the district’s main town, winds through rugged hills, he added. Kharel said the driver lost control of the bus, which led to the accident, one of the major crashes in the accident-prone country. Poorly maintained vehicles coupled with reckless driving and bad roads lead to numerous fatal road accidents in Nepal every year. Eighteen people were killed when a bus carrying passengers crashed on a narrow mountain road in central Nepal in September last year.
Indian border guards killed a Nepali citizen over a local dispute in a rare shooting at the border, Nepal’s government said, prompting anti-India protests in the area and in the national capital yesterday. India and Nepal share a 1,751km (1,094 miles) long and open border and thousands of people cross over each day to work and trade, but Nepali politicians have often accused India of meddling in its affairs. Dozens of people were protesting over a damaged culvert in Nepal’s Anandabazaar near the border with India on Thursday when Indian border guards opened fire, killing a 25-year-old man, a government statement said. An Indian foreign ministry spokesman said India’s border guards had opened an inquiry and had asked Nepal to provide a forensic and post mortem report on the victim. “The Government of Nepal is being requested through diplomatic channels to share post-mortem and forensic reports to facilitate the process,” ministry of external affairs (MEA) spokesperson Gopal Baglay said. The MEA said officials from the two countries had met and agreed to take steps to maintain calm. But yesterday, fresh protests erupted in Anandabazaar, which is 477km (298 miles) southwest of Kathmandu, with an even bigger group of Nepalis attacking a local government office, home ministry spokesman Bal Krishna Panthi said. “The area is tense,” a police official in the region said. Another group of demonstrators tried to march on the Indian embassy in Kathmandu in protest over the shooting, but were stopped by police, leading to scuffles, police official Chhabi Lal said. A dispute erupted in the border area after Nepal-India pillar number 200 went missing and both sides staked claim and counter-claim over the area in no-man’s land. The Nepali side was constructing a culvert in an area that is claimed by India. The situation became tense on Thursday after India’s SSB personnel, who were accompanied by residents of the Indian border town of Basahi, allegedly fired in the air. Nepali residents said the SSB personnel contended that Indian territory was being transgressed upon in the digging for the culvert. Nepal’s ties with India were strained towards the end of 2015 and into last year after it blamed India for tacitly supporting a months-long blockade on fuel and goods by Indian-origin plainspeople who are opposed to Nepal’s constitution.
At least 24 people were killed when an overcrowded bus skidded off the road and crashed in remote western Nepal on Thursday, local officials said. Sixteen people were killed instantly as the bus careered off the road in Jajarkot district, while the other eight died in hospital, local district official Suman Kharel told AFP. The nearest hospital was struggling to cope with the number of casualties and some people were being taken to other districts for treatment, he added. ‘The district hospital is crowded with injured and we are still searching for people at the accident site,’ another local official Krishna Chandra Paudel said. The officials said that there were around 50 passengers on the bus, blaming the accident on overcrowding. The bus was also in a poor state of repair, Paudel added. The bus which was travelling down a narrow and windy road from the village of Khalanga in Jajarkot district to Khara in Rukun. Deadly crashes are relatively common in the impoverished Himalayan nation because of poor roads, badly maintained vehicles and reckless driving.
A Spanish climber yesterday abandoned his attempt to make the first winter summit of Mount Everest in over two decades, saying it would have been “suicidal” to push on. Extreme cold and strong winds forced Alex Txikon, 35, to return to base camp, giving up his bid to scale the world’s highest mountain without using oxygen tanks. The last successful winter summit of Everest was in 1993 by a Japanese team. But no one has reached the peak in winter without additional oxygen since a Nepali mountaineer in December 1987. “It would have been suicidal to continue,” Txikon said from base camp, according to a statement released by his team. “As the person responsible for the expedition, I must not endanger the lives of my companions and also not my own. And believe me, it is more difficult for me to go down to base camp than to go up to C4 (camp four),” added the experienced climber who last year made the first ever winter ascent of Nanga Parbat in Pakistan, which has been nicknamed “Killer Mountain”. Txikon’s expedition to make a rare winter ascent of the 8,848m (29,030ft) peak was mired by setbacks. The Spaniard was forced to return to Kathmandu in mid-February after making it as far as camp four – the last before the summit – following a disagreement with his expedition organisers. He returned to Everest last week with a new team of Sherpa guides. Txikon’s climbing partner, Spanish skier Carlos Rubio, 28, pulled out in late January after being crippled by altitude sickness while at camp two – 6,400m above sea level. Meanwhile the government liason officer who was meant to accompany the team died of altitude sickness before even reaching base camp in mid-January. Txikon is expected to return to Kathmandu within days and fly back to Spain next week, Gontzal S?enz, a member of his organising team, said. Most people attempt to summit Everest during a narrow window of favourable weather between late April and May. Mountaineering experts say climbing in winter is more dangerous than in spring, owing to high winds and temperatures that can plunge as low as minus 60C. The extreme cold also makes it more difficult for the body to absorb oxygen, which is already limited at high altitude.
Curfew was imposed in Nepal’s Terai and Madhes regions yesterday in view of the prevailing tension there since the death of three Madhesi Morcha cadres in a clash between security forces on the previous day. Sporadic protests and demonstrations took place in several parts of Nepal’s southern region yesterday in reaction to the deaths. An alliance of Madhes-based parties has called for a two-day strike to protest against the killings. Public transport, factories, industries and educational institutions were badly hit, as irate Morcha cadres held demonstrations and burned tyres in Rajbiraj - the headquarters of Saptari district. Markets in Bhardaha, Kanchanpur, Rupani and Kalyanpur areas remained shut during the day. Hundreds of protesters took to the streets and chanted slogans demanding compensation to the kin of the deceased, medical treatment to the injured, declaration of the deceased as martyrs and action against the guilty. They vandalised the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxists-Leninists) [CPN-UML] regional office at Lahan Municipality-1, gheraoed Saptari district administration office (DAO), ransacked Rajbiraj Municipality and Nepal Telecom office, and also damaged a National Human Rights Commission vehicle, police said. In view of the violent protests, security has been beefed up at the district court, DAO, district police office and the district land revenue office. Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, meanwhile, called a meeting of Home Minister Bimalendra Nidhi and security chiefs and urged them to exercise restraint while using force. After the meeting, the Home Minister called the chief district officer and local security chiefs of Saptari district to the national capital for clarification. “I am really saddened by the tragic incident that took place in Saptari. The government will pay compensation to the deceased and bear all costs incurred on the treatment of the injured,” said Prime Minister Dahal. Three Morcha cadres died and at least two dozen were injured in police firing on Monday when the alliance of the Madhes-based parties attempted to disrupt the Mechi-Mahakali campaign of the second-largest party, CPN-UML, in the Rajbiraj industrial zone. As tension grew, the Saptari administration clamped curfew in Rajbiraj. According to the Morcha, seven of the injured demonstrators were in critical condition. They were undergoing treatment at the Dharan-based B.P. Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, while others were being treated at the Gajendra Narayan Singh Sagarmatha Zonal Hospital in Rajbiraj. Meanwhile, the main opposition CPN-UML at a press conference in Kathmandu on Tuesday alleged that the attack on their office was a plot to kill all the top leaders of the party. The Monday clashes took place immediately after the top CPN-UML leadership concluded a mass meeting.
Buddhist leader and environmentalist, the 12th Gyalwang Drukpa – the spiritual head of the 1,000-year-old Drukpa Order – was felicitated in a US Congressional resolution for supporting green initiatives and empowering women in the Himalayas, his private office said yesterday. The Gyalwang Drukpa was presented with a US Congressional resolution from Carolyn Maloney, the US Congresswoman for New York’s 12th Congressional district, during his birthday celebrations in Kathmandu on Sunday. The resolution recognises the Gyalwang Drukpa as a world-renowned humanitarian, environmentalist and champion of gender equality, besides recognising his efforts to provide relief services to tens of thousands in the Himalayas following the devastating 2015 earthquake in Nepal. The resolution mentioned his initiatives to protect soil erosion and support clean air through his one million trees project, besides empowering, educating, protecting and inspiring girls and women in the Himalayas and around the world. Besides Sri Sri Ravi Shankar from the Art of Living Foundation, the gathering saw the presence of All India Organisation of Imams of Mosques chief Imam Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, Jain spiritual leader Acharya Lokesh Muni and Mahabodhi International Meditation Center founder Bhikkhu Sanghasena. US administration officials were also in attendance of the birthday celebrations that will culminate on March 8. Just two months after the flash-floods that devastated Ladakh in 2010, the Drukpa Order with around 9,000 volunteers, planted 50,033 willow saplings in 33 minutes and 25 seconds over 112,000sq yards. According to the spiritual leader, planting trees is not only impactful but also an important gesture. The Gyalwang Drukpa also founded the Druk Amitabha Mountain nunnery in Kathmandu which is a unique instance of gender reversal with nuns running the administration. Over 300 nuns receive modern education, besides training in ancient Chinese martial arts. Spiritual teachers, monks, nuns and devotees from across the globe gathered in the nunnery to participate in the birthday celebrations. The spiritual head of the 1,000-year-old Drukpa Order based in the Himalayas is associated with the Earth Awards Selection Committee that recognises viable innovations that improve the quality of life. He is also heading the 17th century famed Hemis monastery of Drukpa lineage in Ladakh, the largest such in the Himalayas.
Nepali police shot and killed at least three ethnic Madhesis in the country’s restive southern plains as they tried to disrupt an opposition rally, officials said yesterday, the deadliest incident in more than a year over its post-monarchy charter. The volatile Himalayan nation, sandwiched between China and India, has been in turmoil since the September 2015 adoption of the constitution that the minority Madhesi people living along the border with India oppose for failing to accommodate their interests. More than 50 people died in clashes in 2015 and there were severe shortages of fuel and medicines due to violence at the Indian border. The protests ended after the government promised to amend the constitution to address the grievances of the Madhesis, though no changes have been made yet. Fresh trouble started yesterday in Rajbiraj, 150km (90 miles) southeast of capital Kathmandu, after Madhesi activists tried to storm a public rally organised by the main opposition Communist Unified Marxist-Leninist (UML) party that opposes any change to the charter. “We have three people confirmed killed,” Home Ministry spokesman Bal Krishna Panthi said. Local television channels said four people had been killed. Police spokesman Sarbendra Khanal said the Madhesi protesters tried to storm the UML rally despite the use of water cannon, baton charge and teargas shells to disperse them. More than two dozen people, including police personnel, were injured, he said. Hridayesh Tripathi, a senior leader of the Tarai Madhesh Loktantrik Party, blamed the UML for ignoring its request to cancel the rally and increasing tension in the region. With the landlocked nation of 28.6 million people recovering from its worst earthquake on record nearly two years ago, Nepal has struggled to complete its political transition after years of civil war. The incident in Rajbiraj could dim prospects for elections to local bodies which the Madhesis have vowed to boycott without their grievances being addressed. Prime Minister Prachanda has said he was committed to changing the constitution before the voting, which has been set for May 14. Madhesis say the entire southern plain region, Nepal’s bread basket, must not be split into more than two federal provinces. It now forms part of six of the seven states dominated by hill dwellers.
Traffic on Arniko Highway, the oldest and shortest route that connects Nepal with the neighbour China, has resumed. The highway was closed for maintenance after it was damaged by two earthquakes in 2015. The official relaunch ceremony of the highway was held in the capital Kathmandu last week in the presence of government and Chinese embassy officials. Those present included Nepal’s Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Ramesh Lekhak, ministry of physical infrastructure and transport secretary Dhana Bahadur Tamang and Chinese ambassador to Nepal Yu Hong The Nepal government appreciated the assistance and continued support of China in the re-opening of the highway that highly contributes to the socio-economic development of the Himalayan country. Secretary Tamang said, “The damage of this highway by the earthquakes and monsoon rain had been critical for the movement of goods and people from one country to another. After maintenance work, it has been again possible to reinstate the original service on the highway.” The repaired highway has been expected to revive the economy and normal activities of locals of Sindhupalchowk, China bordering district. Arniko Highway was built in 1960s with the support of Chinese government. The 115km long road is the historical route that connects capital city Kathmandu with Nepal-China border at Kodari. The highway was the lifeline for cross-border trading and for thousands of locals living in the region until it suffered severe damage in the devastating earthquakes of 2015. Though the highway was repaired twice with the support of Chinese armed police after the disaster, it could not operate well due to fragile geography, especially torrential rainfalls and frequent disasters like flood and landslides. The current maintenance project has been carried out by the China Railway Bureau 14 in five sections of highway. It took five and half months for the Chinese company to make the highway ready for the smooth transportation. The Chinese government has pledged to continue its support for post disaster reconstruction of Nepal. “We are committed to provide assistance for Nepal’s post-disaster reconstruction in five sectors namely infrastructure, livelihood in mountains, cultural relics renovation, disaster preparedness and health. Strengthening connectivity and mutual co-operation under One Belt One Road initiative are common wishes of both countries”, ambassador Yu Hong said at the function. Since the Arniko Highway was closed after the disaster, Nepali traders were using the Rasuwagadhi border point for cross-border trading.
Nepal has forced 2,500 old vehicles off roads in its capital city of Kathmandu, part of a fight against alarming air pollution levels that have hit nine times World Health Organisation (WHO) limits. Air pollution has been a chronic problem in rapidly growing Kathmandu, which sits in a Himalayan valley and is home to more than 3mn people. Rising public anger with the smog is turning into a headache for a beleaguered government headed by former Maoist rebels. Dust from road works, exhaust from old, poorly maintained vehicles and smoke from coal-burning brick kilns blend in a murky haze that hangs over the ancient city, raising the risk of cancer, stroke, asthma and high blood pressure, experts say. Officials hope the ban on vehicles more than 20 years old will be a step towards a cleaner future. “The old vehicle ban will help improve air quality and ease traffic congestion,” Transport Department official Tok Raj Pandey said yesterday. State-run monopoly Nepal Oil Corporation has said it will distribute more environment-friendly fuel, which meets Euro 4 emissions standards from next month. But activists say the government must do more, including enforcing stricter emission standards for new vehicles, as well as switching to cleaner transport. Levels of PM2.5, fine particulate matter that can reach deep into the lungs, rose to 89.7 micrograms per cubic metre at noon yesterday in the tourist district of Patan, the department of environment said. That compares with a WHO guideline of an annual average of 10 micrograms per cubic metre. “It is a very serious problem, which poses a threat to people’s health,” said Khem Bahadur Karki, head of state-run Nepal Health Research Council. “Around 30% of respiratory illnesses are contributed by outdoor air pollution,” Karki said, referring to a recent council study. Activists cite a WHO estimate that outdoor air pollution causes nearly 10,000 deaths in Nepal every year, a bigger toll than a devastating 2015 earthquake. “The pollution is disgusting and shameful,” said Ananda Prasad Bhattarai, a 35-year-old teacher, wearing a face mask as he walked through clouds of traffic fumes. “I don’t think the government cares.” Bijay Bahadur Swar, a vice president of the Federation of Nepalese Transport Entrepreneurs, described the move as unfair. “We support the government decision. But we have invested millions of rupees in this business and the decision has hurt us,” Swar said. “We have requested the government to give us some incentives such as tax waivers on the purchase of new vehicles,” he said.
Nepal on Wednesday banned vehicles older than 20 years from plying the roads of the capital Kathmandu in a bid to control worsening air quality and to ease traffic congestion. Hundreds of buses, trucks, pickups and taxis were not allowed to drive as authorities imposed the rule despite opposition from transport entrepreneurs, who have demanded compensation for their vehicles. ‘Starting today, vehicles that are older than 20 years have been banned in Kathmandu,’ said Tok Raj Pandey, a spokesman of the department of transport management. ‘We have done this to control air pollution which has been blamed on these high-emission vehicles. This would not only improve traffic, but will also make it easier for pedestrians,’ he added. Pandey said roughly 2,500 vehicles would be affected by the move. The authorities will launch a similar campaign outside Kathmandu a year later, which will impact about 2,500 vehicles, Pandey said. Bijay Bahadur Swar, a vice president of the Federation of Nepalese Transport Entrepreneurs, described the move as unfair. ‘We support the government decision. But we have invested millions of rupees in this business and the decision has hurt us,’ Swar told dpa. ‘We have requested the government to give us some incentives such as tax waivers on the purchase of new vehicles,’ he said. The spike in pollution has been attributed to dust from a road widening drive, post-quake reconstruction as well as emissions from old vehicles. An estimated 80,000 vehicles are driven on the roads of Kathmandu, home to 4 million people.
Nepal’s Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has reiterated that Kathmandu and Beijing will carry out bilateral development co-operation projects under the framework of the Chinese Belt and Road initiative. Dahal said this during his meeting with Chinese ambassador to Nepal Yu Hong yesterday, Xinhua reported. Dahal told Yu that Nepal was working for the effective implementation of previous agreements reached between China and Nepal to enhance cross-border connectivity, trade and physical infrastructure development in Nepal, according to Rishiraj Adhikari, the foreign relations adviser to the prime minister. “I am confident bilateral co-operation projects will be carried out under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China,” Adhikari quoted Dahal as saying. Nepal initially signed a framework memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China in December 2014 though it has yet to finalise co-operation projects to be developed under the initiative. “Now the foreign ministries of the two countries are holding negotiations to finalise another MoU for co-operation projects to be developed under the Belt and Road initiative in future,” Adhikari said. Nepal and China agreed to enhance co-operation under the framework of the Belt and Road initiative introduced by the Chinese leadership when former Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli visited Beijing in March last year. “Regarding Nepal-China bilateral co-operation, both sides agreed to synergise each other’s development planning, formulate appropriate bilateral co-operation programmes and to carry out major projects under the framework of the Belt and Road initiative,” said part of a joint communique issued during Oli’s visit. “Both sides agreed to strengthen connectivity, further step up the land and air links and improve the land transport infrastructure,” the communique stated. During the meeting, the Prime Minister briefed the ambassador regarding his government’s preparations to hold local body elections on May 14 this year. “We expect goodwill and support from China as my government is in a crucial phase of constitution implementation and holding local body elections in May this year,” the Prime Minister told the ambassador.
Two moderate earthquakes measuring 4.6 and 4.7 on the Richter scale jolted Nepal yesterday, officials said. According to the National Seismological Centre (NSC) of Nepal, the two temblors that hit Ramechhap district were aftershocks of the massive 2015 earthquake that killed over 9,000 people. The first occurred at 9.22am, and the second followed at 10.06am. According to the NSC, its epicentre was close to Sunarpani of the district. Schools in the districts were closed following the aftershocks and there were reports of damages on old structures. The tremors were also felt in various parts of the Kathmandu Valley, the NSC added. On February 18, an aftershock was recorded at Dhading district. Meanwhile, Danish Prince Joachim Holger Waldemar Christian on Sunday visited Khoplang and Gankhu of Gorkha, the epicentre of the recent major earthquake that rattled the country in April, 2015, to take stock of food security, people’s livelihood and rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of the catastrophe. He has been in Nepal at the invitation of Care Nepal and the Danish embassy. During his stay, he also inspected commercial vegetable farming operated by the Khoplang Women Agricultural Cooperative at Putalikhet. It is supported by the Care Nepal. The Danish Prince who is also the patron of Denmark Care also visited a health post rebuilt by the Care Nepal at Gankhu Sunday itself.