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«His Majesty's Government Ministry of Population and Environment Kathmandu, Nepal June 2000 Ministry of Population and Environment 1 State of the ...»

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2.42 mt/ha, with significant variations, in between the period 1974/75 to 1998/99. The yield rate for 'maize' has decreased slightly while there is a marginal increase for wheat. In sum, the yield rate of principal food crops indicates slight increase with fluctuations in different years. The area under food cultivation has also increased by over one million hectares while the total production has gone up by 2.5 million tons. In case of livestock, the production is on the increase. Livestock density has increased from 5.95/ha in 1981/82 to 7.4/ha in 1991/92. Fishery production is also on the increase. Even though agriculture production has increased, its contribution to the gross domestic product of Nepal has decreased from 69 per cent in 1974/75 to 42 per cent in 1995/96 of Nepal. The agricultural sector will continue being one of the major sectors in the national economy as over 80 per cent of the people still depend on it. The inter-dependency of agriculture, livestock and forestry is conspicuous, especially in the mountains. Implementation of the Agriculture Perspective Plan (APP) is expected to increase the production of crops, livestock and fisheries.

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There is an increasing number of visitors each year and tourism is a major source of foreign exchange earnings. However, disposal of non-biodegradable wastes such as plastics, glasses, batteries in the mountain and trekking routes is an emerging environmental concern.

Governmental and non-governmental organisations are collaborating to create public awareness. Environmental programmes are regularly aired on radio and television. The print media is active in publishing on emerging environmental problems. These public awareness activities have contributed to the implementation of natural resource management programmes and pollution control. The government and the NGO sector is also involved in implementing social development programmes by implementing natural resource management activities in order to improve the living conditions of the people.

In order to address these environmental concerns, HMG has enunciated environment-friendly policies, developed and implemented action plans and introduced environmental legislation. Environment friendly provisions are included in sectoral legislation, which were enacted or amended after 1990. A separate Environment Protection Act (EPA), 1996 and the Environment Protection Rules (EPR), 1997 (amendment 1999) have also been enforced since June 1997. The EPA, 1996 contains several provisions for institutionalising environmental impact assessment as a planning and management tool and expanding pollution control activities. A number of institutions have also been established to implement activities for the conservation of the environment. HMG constituted an Environment Protection Council as a policy advisory body in 1992 and established the Ministry of Population and Environment in 1995. Some macro-economic policies are also being evolved to create an environment-friendly State so that sustainable development can be concurrently achieved. A few economic instruments are also in place to encourage different stakeholders to conserve environment effectively. For example, 30 to 50 per cent of the total revenue collected in the protected areas will be allocated to the local people living adjacent to such areas for community development. HMG has also provided 99 per cent tax exemption and VAT exemption for the import of microbuses in implementing the decisions on diesel-operated three wheelers.

Various location-specific programmes are under implementation through collaborative efforts. One such programme is the banning of the movement of the diesel-operated three wheelers in Kathmandu Valley, Pokhara SubMetropolitan City and Lumbini - the birth place of Lord Buddha. HMG has also Ministry of Population and Environment 10 State of the Environment Report, 2000 banned the registration of new two-stroke engine vehicles since the middle of September 1999 as a preventive action for pollution control. Furthermore, HMG has introduced the Nepal Vehicle Mass Emission Standard, 2056 since 23 December 1999.

Nepal has joined the international community in their initiatives for environmental management by being a Party to several Conventions. Some action plans have been prepared and some are under preparation to implement resolutions enshrined and agreed to by Nepal in the conventions.

However, in spite of instituting laws, policies and programmes, a number of environmental challenges still prevail. Poverty, population growth, rapid urbanisation still impacts the resource base and cause environmental pollution.

Therefore, a more concerted effort is required to curb this trend of environmental degradation and progress towards a more sustainably development country.

Ministry of Population and Environment 11 State of the Environment Report, 2000

Chapter One


NEPAL plans for progressing towards sustainable development with economic liberalisation policies along with environmental management. His Majesty's Government (HMG) is taking aggressive steps to ease serious constraints to development, accelerate growth and alleviate poverty. The role of the private sector is viewed as being crucial for economic development and creation of employment. However, the government recognises that during the process of economic and infrastructure development, environmental issues must not be neglected o overlooked.

Without due incorporation of environmental issues in development planning and implementation there is a high possibility of degrading human and physico-biological environment.

Environment is u nderstood as a complex dynamic system of living and non-living entities of a particular area, where each component of the system interacts with each other and leads to a change in its quality and quantity. Since environment is multifaceted, multi-disciplinary and multisectoral in character, complexities of environmental problems in the country are, directly or indirectly, an outcome of development policies and programmes. In order to understand the causal links and establish linkages between the environmental and developmental activities, various countries prepare the State of the Environment (SOE) Report. The SOE describes prevailing conditions from two perspectives - biophysical and socio-economic. A general picture of how human activities impact the environmental conditions, the human health and the economic development are also presented therein.

Primarily based upon secondary information, this report is designed to describe the national state of environment in diverse sectoral areas in the format approved by the Conference of the Fourth SAARC Environment Ministers held at Colombo from 30 October to 1 November 1998. It addresses relationships between different development activities and their impact on the environment. The report also encompasses the prevailing environmental conditions, illustrates the current environment friendly policies as a basis for integrating environmental aspects into developmental activities, and describes emerging environmental concerns.

Current environmental issues in Nepal which have emerged from ongoing land degradation, depleting forest resources, unplanned urban development, discharge of untreated effluents and disposal of wastes 12 Ministry of Population and Environment State of the Environment Report, 2000 brought on by inadequate consideration of the environment in development planning have also been discussed herein. The existing opportunities for effective implementation of environment friendly policies to redress the environmental problems are also discussed in this report. This report strives to provide a foundation for future environmental policies and programmes.

1.1 Physiography

Nepal is roughly rectangular in shape. The country's landmass stretches 885 km from east to west and has a non-uniform width of 193km north to south. It has a total land area of 147,181 sq. km and an estimated population of 21.84 million in 1998. It lies within the sub-tropical to the mountainous region at 26°22' to 30°27' N latitudes and 80°4' to 88°12' E longitudes, with an altitude that ranges from 90 m to 8,848 m. The country is landlocked and is bordered by India in the East, West and South, and China in the North.

Nepal is ethnically diverse. It is home to several race, tribes, languages and religions. The Nepalese population consists of Indo-Aryan and Mongol races. Two major religions, Hinduism and Buddhism, have moulded the country's cultural fabrics. Administratively, Nepal is divided into 5 development regions, 14 zones, 75 districts, 58 municipalities and 3,912 Village Development Committees (VDC).

Geographically, Nepal represents a transitional mountain area between the fertile Gangetic Plain of India and the arid plateau of Tibet, China. The country is rich in ecological diversity with slightly over 80 per cent of the land covered by rugged hills and mountains. From the low-lying Terai plains in the south, where elevation in some places is less than 100 m above sea level, the landscape rises through a maze of valleys and spurs culminating in the majestic heights of the Great Himalayas, including the Mount Everest - the highest peak in the world.

The narrow strip of flat alluvial terrain along the southern border, known as the Terai, is an extension of the Gangetic Plain and comprises about 14 per cent of the country, including most of the fertile and forest areas. Its general slope towards the south is less than 1 per cent. The Churia and Mahabhrat Ranges punctuate the Terai plains with an approximate width of 50 km. The elevation ranges from 60 m to 330 m above sea level (Table 1.1) and constitutes the most productive agricultural region of the country, with a good potential for the development of agro-industries. Its northern edge is the Bhabar, which is characterised by boulders and freely drained gravely soil. This area is unsuitable for agricultural purposes.

13 Ministry of Population and Environment State of the Environment Report, 2000 The first elevation next to the Terai is the Siwaliks (also known as Churia Range), which covers about 13 per cent of the country. Their average altitude is 900 m (elevation difference from 120 m to 2,000 m) and is about 8 to 10 km in width. The Churia range is the youngest member of the Himalayan family and has dry and immature soil. There are a number of Terai-like valleys lying between the Siwaliks and the Mahabharat range, commonly called the Dun Valleys (inner Terai plains), such as Chitwan and Dang.

To the north, running parallel with the Churia range is the Middle Mountain Zone, also known as the Middle Hills or the Mahabharat Range. The altitude ranges from 500 m in low-lying valleys to over 3,000 m. This maze of valleys and spurs has been the traditional zone of human occupancy in Nepal. It is extensively cultivated and pressure of population on these lands is high.

The Middle Mountain Zone constitutes the traditional and cultural heartland of the country. The total area equals approximately 30 per cent of the country and is typified by extensive terraces, large numbers of landslide scars, as well as tracts of eroded land. The Mahabharat girdles Kathmandu Valley - the capital of Nepal, a geologically structured trough with an average altitude of 1,300 m. This Valley has long remained the jewel among the Nepalese hills. The Valley is endowed with deep, fertile, lacustrine soil and was nurtured as the focal point for trade between Tibet and India until the end of the last century. The rapid rise in population, and consequent problems of ecological degradation have been the most conspicuous feature of this hill region in the recent years.

The High Mountain Zone, located north of the Middle Mountain Region, covers about 20 per cent of the country. It is characterised by long, straight and steep slopes, and narrow valleys which are sensitive to erosion. Few areas are cultivated and the productive capacity is comparatively low.

The High Himal Zone occupies about 23 per cent of the Kingdom and is mostly snow covered. The snow line is at 5,000 m in the East and 4,000 m in the West. This zone is an area of rocky, ice-covered massifs, rolling uplands, snow-fields, valley glaciers, and sweeping meadow lands. It forms the northern boundary of the monsoon climate and the geo-political border between Nepal and China. This region has over 200 peaks exceeding 6,000 m. Eight of the ten highest peaks exceeding 8,000 m on earth, including the Mt. Everest (8,848m.), are located in this zone.

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The geological formations correspond to the physiographic zones. The Siwalik is made up of sedimentary deposits. Schists, gneisses and granites are the major rock types in the mountainous regions. The mountains are geologically young and still rising.

There is also a sharp contrast in elevation and steepness of the terrain.

About two-fifths of the land surface lies between 305 m to 1,524 m, 22.6 per cent lies between 1,524 m and 3,048 m, 27.5 per cent above 3,048 m and 11.3 per cent below 305 m of the total land surface (HMG, 1992). In terms of slope, 58.7 per cent of the land is steep to very steep in between 20 to 35 degrees (Siwaliks and Middle Mountain Zone), 21.7 per cent of the land has moderate to steep slopes, 13.6 per cent has less than one degree sloping - mostly in Terai, while the remaining area (4.6 per cent) is either gently sloped or dissected (1.4 per cent).

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