Govt preparing to flout law to allow cable cars to run inside protected areas

The government is preparing to allow infrastructure such as ropeways inside protected areas and buffer zones around it by passing a guideline against the provisions of the prevailing laws.

The draft guideline to regulate tourism activities inside protected areas, seen by Onlinekhabar, allows tourism service operators to run cable car services inside protected areas, against the provisions of the National Park and Wildlife Conservation Act.

Experts say that the government’s attempt to amend the provisions of the Act through a guideline amounts to abuse of power. “Any guideline or procedure made under a certain act, should adhere to the principles laid down in the act,” says constitutional law expert Bipin Adhikari. “A guideline cannot go beyond the provisions of the Act,” he said.

If the guideline is passed, the government can issue contracts to anyone its wants to run hotels, resorts and ropeways inside protected areas. Prevailing laws do not allow the government to issue such contracts without fair competition. Nepali Congress leader Gagan Thapa says the guideline is being prepared to suit the interests of a handful of people. He says that those in power already know who is going to get the contracts and the rules are being amended to suit their interests.

Former Minister Thapa says that the guideline is against the spirit of the constitution. “The constitution says that we need to promote sustainable use of resources, but we cannot do that if the draft guideline is approved,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Forest and Environment Spokesperson Sindhu Prasad Dhungana says the guideline is being prepared as an integrated document to regulate tourism activities inside national parks. He insists that only provisions incorporated in the act will be included in the new guideline.