January 7: More than 25,000 trees are being cut down for the expansion of the 220 KV Koshi Corridor transmission line- a national pride project which is currently under construction.
Stating that the extension of power transmission line right through the centre of Tinjure Milke Jaljale (TMJ), a tri-junction junction of Tehrathum, Sankhuwasabha and Taplejung, also known as the capital of Rhododendron, would have a negative impact on the environment and the livelihood of the people. The locals have demanded the government to find an alternative route.
Stakeholders are concerned that there will be a negative impact on tourism and environment after a large number of trees will be cut down in the TMJ forest area.
Locals fear that the tourism business, which has flourished due to the rhododendron forests, will decline after the trees are cut down.
Although the work of power expansion can be done without cutting down the trees, the project has started the work by cutting down the dense forest.
The construction of the Koshi Corridor, considered to be the biggest project of the eastern hill districts till date, is in full swing. The work of laying poles and connecting wires in Dhankuta and Tehrathum has already started.
The preliminary environmental impact assessment was conducted in 2073 for the operation of the project. During the line expansion, 25,000 trees including rhododendron of six community forests in Tinjure will be cut down.
Dambar Bahadur Budathoki, chairman of the Tinjure Hattisar Community Forest Users Group of Dharmadevi Municipality-1 in Sankhuwasabha district, said that the project officials had agreed to extend the transmission lines through the hills of Tinjure after the first survey conducted by the project. However, the project officials decided to take the transmission lines through the dense forest after the second survey, informed Budhathoki. He claims that the project did not take anyone’s consent in the second survey.
“After the deforestation, there is a possibility of loss of animal habitat, wildlife and drying up of water sources that would directly impact the tourism in the region,” Budathoki said, “The Koshi Corridor seems to have a major impact on climate and biodiversity as well.”
Chief of Laligurans Municipality Arjun Mabohang informed that the risk of drinking water crisis has increased in Basantapur city due to the cutting down of trees. He also said that they are repeatedly urging the project to look for other alternatives to save the forest.
Someshwor Kumar Das, assistant forest officer of the Sub-Divisional Forest Office, Basantapur, said that the environmental impact assessment was done as it was a project of national pride. He claims that the trees including the rhododendron forests were cut down through a decision taken by the Council of Ministers.
Das said that the project has agreed to plant 25 saplings in place of one tree cut down in the affected area and regenerate the forest within five years. He is of the view that deforestation will affect the environment but things will return back to normal after the new plants grow up.