«His Majesty's Government Ministry of Population and Environment Kathmandu, Nepal June 2000 Ministry of Population and Environment 1 State of the ...»
In addition, international NGOs (INGOs) such as Save the Children USA/UK/Japan, CARE - Nepal, Oxfam, Plan international, etc. are also participating in social mobilisation vis-à-vis implementation of conservation activities. The World Conservation Union - IUCN, and the World Wildlife (WWF) are two international NGOs involved in the transfer of natural resource management know-how. In addition, some donor agencies such as GTZ, DANIDA, FINNIDA, SNV, ODA, JICA, USAID, UN agencies, WB and ADB and are also addressing environmental issues through their programmes.
Ministry of Population and Environment 24 State of the Environment Report, 2000 In sum, Nepal experienced steady population growth rate, the population growth rate has not declined in spite of several population management efforts. The increasing population rate is not compatible with the carrying capacity of Nepal's natural resources endowment. Another critical issue is the imbalanced distribution population access to natural resource. Some districts, especially, the least developed mountain regions, have a declining population size while others have a high growth rate. However, health indicators such as infant mortality and life expectancy rate have steadily improved. The coverage of health services such as immunisation programmes, oral re-hydration therapy and nutritional programmes have also considerably increased.
Yet, 50 per cent of the total population still live below the poverty line.
Increasing number of impoverished people have multi-fold negative environmental impacts, particularly on the natural resource base such on as soil, water and forests. In order to improve socio-economic and environmental conditions, HMG is encouraging social organisations to participate in community development activities. Though, social mobilisation through social organisations is not a new phenomenon and has been in practice for centuries, the cumulative effect of these organisations on environmental management is yet to be evaluated.
2.2 Atmosphere and Climate Issues 2.2.1 Greenhouse Gases The combustion of fossil fuels, deforestation and land use changes are two major sources of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Major sources of GHGs in relation to land use and soil borne sources are carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. During the period of 1960/61 to 1990/91, the general input of Carbon Dioxide due to deforestation and land use change in Nepal, was estimated at 6.9 x 1012 grams/year (Haughton et al., 1987),
3.96 x 106 tons/year (Hall and Uhlig, 1991), and 8.34 x 107 (min.) to 15.45 x 107 (max.) tons/year (Devkota, 1992). These differences are basically due to the variation in the consideration of the forest areas. On the other hand, annual emission of GHGs through utilisation of petroleum products is estimated at 72 Gigagram (Gg) of Carbon, and 1.79 Gg of Nitrogen in between 1970/71 to 1990/91 (Devkota, 1992). Boden, Marland and Andres (1995) derived the trend of CO2 emission in Nepal by utilisation of fossil fuels since 1950 to 1992. They estimated an emission of 354,000 tons of CO2 emission in 1992 due to combustion of fossil fuels. Release of GHGs from other sources and its impact on the environment is yet to be analysed.
Ministry of Population and Environment 25 State of the Environment Report, 2000 2.2.2 Chlorofluro Carbon (CFC) In 1999, under the co-ordination of the Nepal Bureau of Standard and Metrology (NBSM), the Ministry of Industry endorsed a national programme to check CFC-12. According to a survey conducted by NBSM in 1996, a total of 52 tons of CFCs-12 (29 tons) and HCFCs-22 (23 tons) have been utilised in Nepal and the per capita consumption of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODSs) is only about 0.0013 kg. ODSs are utilised in Nepal in commercial refrigeration, building and air conditioning, and household refrigeration.
Although Nepal does not produce ODSs, the consumption rate is definitely on the increase. Inadequate control measures will likely increase the consumption of CFC-12 and it is predicted to reach to 85 tons by the year 2010.
2.3 Inland Waters 2.3.1 Water Water is one of the major natural endowments of Nepal. The country has more than 6,000 rivers with considerable flow variation, sediment loads and deposition. Hydropower potential is estimated at 83,000 MW, of which 50 per cent is considered economically feasible. The annual mean stream flow for the snow-fed major river systems is estimated to be about 4,930 m3/sec. This amounts to 70 per cent of the total annual surface runoff.
About 60 to 85 per cent of the annual surface runoff occur during the monsoon period. The annual runoff from Nepal is about 222 billion m 3/sec, with a mean runoff coefficient of 0.777 (JICA/DHM, 1993; Table 2.3.1).
Inter annual discharge variation is very high in the Nepalese rivers. The coefficient of annual variation is significantly higher in the rivers originating from the Middle Hills and the Churia than that of snow-fed rivers.
The Terai comprises a reasonable amount of groundwater resources for irrigation and drinking water purposes. A substantial amount could also be used for operating water-demanding industries. The water table is generally about 15 m from the surface in the northern part of the Terai, while in the southern parts it is closer to the surface. The middle section of the Terai, comprises of high-pressure artesian areas. The surface water table in Eastern Terai region varies from 3 to 4.5 m in general, while it changes from 3 to 9 m in the Dun Valleys of Central Terai, and up to 18 m depth in the Bhabar zone in the Western Terai. In Kathmandu Valley, the water table ranges from a depth of about 1 to 12 m and has limited number of aquifers which have been reported at about a depth of 450 m.
Ministry of Population and Environment 26 State of the Environment Report, 2000 Table 2.3.1 Estimated Runoff of the Rivers
Statistics on water balance reveals surplus water resources in four major basins - Koshi, Gandaki, Karnali and Mahakali. However, water shortages occur during the dry seasons in the five medium river basins and most small streams originating from the Siwaliks. Water balance studies of five rivers, namely, the Kankai, Bagmati, West Rapti and Babai have indicated water shortages during the winter season.
Both the surface and ground water are potential sources for increasing agricultural production in Nepal. The Agriculture Perspective Plan (APP) has also emphasised development of irrigation facilities to increase the cropping intensity. The APP has identified shallow tube well irrigation as one of the priorities for the Terai area. Based on the recharge rate in the Terai, it is estimated that the extraction and recharge ratio in the Terai is to the order of 10 per cent.
Use of ground water for drinking purposes is extensive in Kathmandu Valley. About 46 per cent of the water supplied in Kathmandu and Lalitpur is from underground sources. In 1999 when the total demand of water for Kathmandu and Lalitpur was 123.8 MLD, the total available supply was only 103.6 MLD. At present, drinking water required for Kathmandu Valley is 150 MLD, but the supply is only one-third of the demand during dry seasons and two-thirds in other seasons.
27 Ministry of Population and Environment State of the Environment Report, 2000
2.3.2 Water Quality
Sporadic studies on water quality indicate degradation in the quality of both river and drinking water. Such deterioration is not just limited to urban and riverside settlement areas. Drinking water in most rural parts is also experiencing biological contamination. For example, the Bagmati River, which drains the Kathmandu Valley, is highly polluted at different stretches and its water is unfit for human consumption. Based on water quality and biological features, this river is divided into four sections. They are: (a) a zone of good ecological condition from the source to Guheswori, (b) a zone of slightly polluted condition from Guheswori to the confluence of Dhobi Khola, (c) a zone of severe pollution from Thapathali to Chovar, and (d) a zone of pollution from Chovar downwards (Sharma, 1986; and NESS, 1995). A one-year water quality monitoring record of the Bagmati river indicates a high level of discharge and/or disposal of oxygen demanding wastes in the river. The concentration of biological oxygen demand (BOD) and chemical oxygen demand (COD) indicates an increase from October to March.
A monitoring study also revealed river water quality to be generally good along the riversides, with the exception of areas along the human settlements (Hoffman, 1994). Water quality to some extent is degraded due to lack of sewerage treatment. According to a report published by the Nepal Water Supply and Sewerage Corporation in 1997, only 26,141 households in Kathmandu have connection to public sewerage. The remaining houses discharge their sewage into septic tanks, latrines or directly into the river systems. The public sewerage pipe is also directly drained into both Bagmati and Bishnumati rivers.
The monthly average sediment load in major river systems is estimated at
1.131 g/L in Sapta Koshi, 1.434 g/L in Sapta Gandaki, and 0.988 g/L in Karnali (Ghimire and Uprety, 1990). The Tamur river has the highest annual suspended sediment load of 57.6 million tons (Sharma, 1997; Table 2.3.2).
In general, quality drinking water in the urban areas is scarce and most often contaminated. In Kathmandu the quality is inferior due to the presence of different contaminants such as coliform bacteria, iron and ammonia (NESS, 1995 and ENPHO, 1993). The amount of iron in the drinking water in some cases exceeds the WHO standard and high concentration of iron makes the water unsuitable for industrial and other household uses. This drinking water also contains high ammonia, which
In general, irrigation and power development projects are affected by heavy sediment recessing load. Watershed degradation is a common phenomenon. Some common environmental problems are landslides and floods, degradation of forests and land in the watersheds, deposition of sediment in the canal system and the reservoir, and change in water quality.
2.3.3 Wetlands About 0.731 million ha of land in Nepal is covered by wetlands, including water bodies, of different sizes and characteristics (Bhandari, Shrestha and McEachern, 1994). Wetlands are highly fertile and productive ecosystems.
Nepal's wetlands can be divided into five categories.
?? The relatively shallow midland-mountain wetlands lakes such as Phewa, Begnas and Mai Pokhari;
?? The lowland-tropical wetlands which are are seasonally flooded riverine flood plains, including Koshi Tappu;
?? The human managed wetlands such as ponds, rice fields, ghols, etc.; and ?? Artificial wetlands such as reservoirs, irrigation canals and sewage ponds.
In Nepal, wetlands provide a habitat to over 180 species of fishes and a number of water-dependent birds and other animals. About 190 bird species are considered water-dependent, of which 90 species are migrants, 66 species are residential, while the remaining 34 bird species are uncommon and rare resident species (Manandhar and Shrestha, 1994). Of the 370 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and higher vertebrates dependent on wetland habitats, about 100 species are estimated to be threatened (Suwal, 1992), while the Ganges river dolphins (Platanista gangetica) and gharials (Gavialis gangeticus) are considered vulnerable (Shrestha, 1995). Wetlands are also rich in aquatic angiosperms. They provide food for human beings, fodder for wild animals and ungulates, and feed for bird species.
The Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve (175 sq. km) is the only protected wetland and designated Ramsar Site in Nepal. This is the main habitat of wild buffaloes (Arna) ( Bubalus bubalis) including about 325 species of birds.
Nepal's wetlands are facing degradation primarily due to eutrophication.
They are critically threatened by the effects of anthropogenic activities such as deforestation, unregulated hunting, increased pollution level from the discharge of untreated effluents and damming.
In sum, adequate amount of surface water is available in different parts of the country. This could be used for drinking, irrigation, and hydro-electricity generation purposes. According to Hindu mythology, rivers are holy places that deserve both conservation and sustainable use. However, excessive withdrawal of underground water is exceeding the recharge rate, which is an environmentally unsound practice. Water pollution, of both drinking water and river, is increasing due to discharge of untreated effluents from industries and domestic sources.
Species inhabiting the Nepali wetlands are threatened by the destruction of their habitat. Eutrophication combined with encroachment has reduced the Ministry of Population and Environment 30 State of the Environment Report, 2000 area of wetlands, thereby, endangering various biological species inhabiting the area. In order to utilise existing resources on a sustained basis, a hydrological information bank should be established for planning and designing water projects. Environmental and social assessments should be integrated into project cycles, which would help optimise project benefits and minimise negative environmental impacts on wetlands. Due attention should also be given to minimising the volume of pollution load in water bodies through enforcement of environmental standards.
2.4 Land Degradation, Desertification and Natural Disasters 2.4.1 Land Use Land resource base supports the livelihood of the majority of people. The great diversity in landscapes and climates is reflected in the complex usage of land. In general, land use category includes agriculture, forest, and pasture, snow cover and other lands. In the mid-1980s, agriculture, forest, Himali area, grazing area, water bodies, settlements and roads, and others (barren land, landslide, etc.) covered 18.0, 37.6, 15.3, 13.4, 2.7, 0.7 and 12.3 per cent respectively (NPC, 1985). However, they were later broadly divided into cultivated, grass, forest and shrub lands. Major portion of the land area is under forest cover, followed by agriculture (Table 2.4.1).
This indicates an increase in agriculture area by 3 per cent, and a decrease in grassland area by 1 per cent while a separate shrub land category has also been identified. It also indicates that around 54 per cent of the total area falls under some form of vegetation cover in the wild.