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Nod to Banke National Park

Ramesh Prasad Bhushal

KATHMANDU: Ending a long-drawn debate between the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation, the Ministry of Energy (MoE), Ministry of Irrigation (MoI) and the Ministry of Physical Planning and Works (MoPPW), the Cabinet Social Committee today gave its nod to develop Banke National Park (BNP).

The latter three ministries were opposing

the Forest Ministry’s idea of establishing BNP

saying such a move would hamper development initiatives.

Spanning over an area of 894 square kilometres, including a buffer zone of 344 square kilometres in Banke, Salyan and Dang, will be the 10th national park in the country, BNP will be the 10th international park in the country. “The ministers and secretaries today decided to accept our proposal. It’s a milestone decision in the conservation sector,” said Forest Minister Deepak Bohora. The Forest Ministry had forwarded a proposal regarding the establishment of BNP to the Cabinet’s Social Committee in November last year after the three ministries challenged the former ministry. Secretaries at MoE, MoI and MoPPW were directed to come up with a solution.

According to experts, the soon-to-be national park area bears good potential for tiger habitat and the decision will be helpful in meeting to fulfil the government’s goal to double the tiger population by 2022.

Earlier in October at the Global Tiger Workshop held in Kathmandu, the government had announced to double the population of tiger, an endangered species. According to 2009 census, there were 121 adult tigers in the country.

Most parts of BNP fall on the Churia range, which bears a fragile ecosystem and the government had adopted a policy to focus on conserving the Churia range in 2009. However, no concrete step had been taken. “Both Churia conservation and increasing the population of big cats will be addressed by this decision so the ministry will make its efforts to conserve the area,” added Minister Bohora.

The initial plan was to merge the proposed area with the existing Bardia National Park, but the ministry later came up with a proposal to establish as a separate national park in view of the potential difficulty in handling such a large park.

“The new proposal

was made as per the suggestions of locals to

facilitate the buffer zone communities,” said Tulsi Ram Sharma, Spokesperson, Department of

National Park and Wildlife Conservation.

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