The Nepalese government has announced it would begin distributing timber to residents of the capital city so that families can continue to put food on the table. The young republic was forced to take the dramatic measure as ongoing blockade along Indo-Nepal border meant no stock of cooking gas in the country.
Speaking to local journalists on Saturday, forest minister Agni Prasad Sapkota said firewood was not a permanent solution to the current fuel crisis but a temporary solution in order to alleviate the extraordinarily inconvenient hardship facing the Nepalese people.
The firewood is priced at Rs 15 a kilogram and would be sold from two designated depots in Kathmandu. The government has already hauled ten trucks of firewood from a southern district while the next lot would be brought from western Nepal district, it is learnt.
A family can buy up to a maximum of 100 kilogram per month while businesses will pay Rs 2 more than the normal family rate of Rs 15 and can procure a maximum of 500 kilogram per month.
The move of the Nepalese government confirms fears the fuel crisis may result in deforestation in the fragile ecosystem of the mountainous nation. At a time when the world is talking trees and afforestation, the continuing blockade by India has forced the Nepalese government to declare the drastic move which certainly will appall environmentalists around the globe. After all, there aren’t many countries in the world that fell trees and sell to the public to use as cooking fuel – all officially.
Kathmandu has an estimated population of over 2.5 million and all of them stand in urgent need cooking gas. Now, of course, timber fresh from the forest.
There is no doubt the country will be forced to feel tens of thousands of standing trees should the fuel crisis continue. This is concerning because the fragile ecosystem in the Himalayan nation is already under domestic pressure.
Australia also allows collection of firewood from certain reserved forests but only during a particular season and can be collected only from felled or fallen trees.