You have just returned from NY upon completing Save the Himalayas rally. What was the objective?
Minister Bohara: We cannot deny that our Himalayas are melting at an alarming rate. We all have acknowledged this fact. However, the world community has not realised this disaster seriously. We conducted a cabinet meeting at Kala Pathar of the Everest base camp to inform the world community regarding this issue. Giving continuity to our efforts, we demonstrated in Copenhagen, Denmark, too and then came Save the Himalayas rally. Thus, the objective of this initiative was to inform world leaders about the melting Himalayas.
Why did you choose the New York, in front of the UN building, as the venue while the UN general assembly was underway?
Minister Bohara: This kind of programme is for creating awareness. Nepalis are already aware of the issue. People of one of the villages in Mustang have become environmental refugees as all water sources got dried up and they needed to shift from there to another location. The problems that we are facing are not due to Nepal and Nepalis, but developed nations producing huge amount of carbon are responsible for this. Nepal has not crossed the carbon emission limit.
So, we decided to gather and demonstrate in front of the UN building in NY where world leaders had gathered for the UN sessions. I hope, many leaders were able to understand the issue. Nepal would seriously raise this issue in the next convention at Mexico and it is expected that world leaders would support Nepal’s proposal to save the Himalayas from melting.
When you were in NY, there were media reports that you collected huge amount of money from mountaineers and Sherpas assuring them to take them to join Save the Himalayas rally.
Minister Bohara: This is a sad thing. We have a culture of pulling legs of those who come up with good programmes in Nepal. And, such allegations are a part of this trend. Attempts to disseminate negative information were made, instead of spreading the core message. Such media reports were baseless. Right after my return, I clarified my position to press and informed them about the reality. To make the things more clear, I should mention here that there was not a penny as support from the government. Even, I went to NY of my own. So, no truth lies in those accusations. A few people who were denied visas by the US embassy in Kathmandu were involved in spreading such rumours. However, there was support from Nepal Mountaineering Association.
It was in your leadership that cabinet at Kala Pathar, Copenhagen demonstration and Save the Himalayas initiative were conducted. However, there are allegations that Nepal has witnessed massive deforestation across the nation during your ministerial stint.
Minister Bohara: I am equally concerned about deforestation as I am making efforts to save the melting Himalayas. It's for me to explain the limit of chopping of tress and timber logging. And, accordingly the government prohibited chopping of trees. But, this initiative has been linked to deforestation unnecessarily. Based on my ministry’s statistics, deforestation has reduced in the recent years. It has not increased. In Nepal, only community foresters are allowed to cut down trees. Even the government doesn’t have this right. I tried to suggest the government to make all community foresters to replace every single tree felled, by planting 25 saplings. There can be a few such instances of deforestation in the nation since we have a weak government. But, massive deforestation as claimed is not true.
What has your ministry been doing to control deforestation and poaching of wild animals?
Minister Bohara: Unless we prohibit chopping of trees completely through legal means, deforestation will continue. As I said earlier, for every tree that we cut down, 25 new plants should be planted. And, community forest users must apply this rule first. We are trying our best to convince these foresters and amend the existing laws, but we aren’t curtailing their rights. And, for controlling poaching of wild animals, we have been working to simplify the legal provisions to make their effective implementation.
That means deforestation and poaching are growing in the absence of strong laws?
Minister Bohara: Certainly, this is the reality. I am firmly convinced that unless we have strong legal set up, deforestation and poaching will continue. And, this needs to be everyone’s efforts. We are unable to punish those who are involved in such activities. Our authority seizes even two sacks of fertilisers imported by farmers. But, I don’t understand, why it has failed to bring those culprits into book and prove them guilty by law. For this, the security system must be more vigilant.
At least eight rhinos were killed in Chitwan in the past one year. The government formed a number of investigation committees, but, not a single person has been punished.
Minister Bohara: I agree. Highest number of rhino deaths has taken place in the last ten years. However, I must clarify that attempts to control poaching of rhinos were maximum in my ministerial tenure. And, many poachers have been detained. I am of the opinion that there must be no international demand for various parts of animals. This will automatically control poaching of rhinos. We have been raising this voice and recently we inked a deal with the Government of China.