About 38 kilometers north far from the Kapilbastu, Patharkot there is the largest producer of cement company "Arghakhanchi cement" at Narapani Arghakhanchi. Debris has raised the riverbed of Khanchi khola and connecting road Garusinge, Sandhikharka is almost destroyed in many places due to an over the movement of tripper.
One early morning in mid-June, I talked with my friend Mr. Mohan over the phone, he is a resident of mining areas. He said villagers were facing environmental problems arising due to mining activities like land degradation, soil contamination, degradation of forests and loss of biodiversity, air pollution, surface and groundwater pollution, noise and vibrations, deterioration of natural drainage system. He also mentions, natural beauty, Arghakhanchi districts is rich in Dolomite (CaMg(CO3), Molybdenum (Mo), Laterite/ Red Clay, Cobalt (Co), Silver (Ag) and Argentite (Ag2S). But the external people were hijacking.
Malarani Rural Municipality
About 10 kilometers from Shandikharka, headquater of Arghakhanchi district Bangi river lies in the Malarani rural municipality. Among the major rivers, the Bangi river was quite popular for fishing in my childhood. Now, farmers nearby Bangi river are busy at work in the rice field.
I am searching for a stone to sit for lunch, I didn’t find one. The stone was stolen which I was collected in the winter to make a wall and blocked the monsoon water at the rice field said Bishnu Khadka.
Large holes have developed in various places nearby our rice field while the Bangi river has changed its course in some places due to random stone and sand mining. said Prem Pandey a local.
“We are against stolen of extraction. But how can we overcome at such a scale that it destroys?” questioned Santa Bahadur Karki, a local. He added, in the rainy season, there is a risk of landslide, there was a huge raining in months of Asar and Sarawan, I have not slept a minute in a whole night last week.
Although it is the very small thing that I am making a mouthful of, our offspring will barely find the stone to seat nearby the rice field. The KUR (a place where fish live) of aquatic life is already destroyed, said 45 years Kamala Karki.
Villagers express their dissatisfaction toward the municipality and ward committee for taking no action against the local contractors. As the local responsible authorities have turned a blind eye to the issue, Last year villagers themselves have formed a local committee to check haphazard stolen of rocks, stone, soil, gravel and sand. But wasn't works because, the local young personnel and labor coming from rural Rolpa, Rukum districts as well as from the Terai region were stealing in the late-night where community people supposed to have slept.
Apart from rich ores, stones, soil, gravel, boulder and sand were collected and extraction from Bangi Khola, Bangsari Khola, Mathurabesi Khola, Banganga Khola, Durga Khola, Sita Khola, Jare khola, Khakabesi Khola, Rangsing Khola, Ratne Khola, Jhimruk Khola, and Thada Khola.
After excessive exploitation of the Chure’s rivers and hills, the government had decided to halt the export of construction materials like sand, gravel and other aggregates. During the budget for this fiscal year 2021/22, the finance minister announced the exportation of the same products in India and Bangladesh (neighboring countries). Excessive exploitation of the Chure range impacts easy access to resourceful natural resources which causes the river ecosystem.
The Chure region is considered as the youngest mountain system which is geologically very fragile due to its steep slope coupled with less stabilized rock and soil as it is one of the youngest mountain systems in the world. It stretches to 36 districts from eastern Ilam to Kanchanpur closest to the southern border. The government of Nepal on 16 June 2014 banned quarrying and export of rocks, stones, soil, gravel and sand from the area bearing in mind the rampant degradation of the Chure region and its implications on dependent people.
Excavation of rocks, stone, soil, gravel and sand makes life harder which ultimately impacts climate change in Arghakhanchi districts. Local people and women should raise their voices on their livelihoods and discuss solutions. Rural areas in hilly regions like Malarani rural municipality are going to turning into ghost village because people are migrating to urban areas after sources of water dried up from rampant degradation of the Chure region.
Ashok Pandey (MPH/BPH, DGH): Fellow TERI and Internews’ Earth Journalism Network. Currently working as an Associate Research Fellow at Policy Research Institute, A Government think tank.