May Analysis: National Security and Climate Change

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Timeline of Major Events

DateKey Events
May 16An Indian Air Force aircraft landed at the newly constructed Gautam Buddha International Airport to manage security arrangements for the arrival of Indian PM Modi.
May 19After the completion of local level elections, a meeting of the Central Security Committee was held to discuss the security management during the elections.
May 26Supreme Court ordered the government to look for alternative site for the construction Nijgadh International Airport

Security Analysis: Post Election

After the completion of local level elections, a meeting of the Central Security Committee was held on May 19th to discuss the security management during the elections. The committee which was chaired by the Home Minister Bal Krishna Khand reviewed the security issues and discussed the ways to tackle them in the future. The reports have indicated that apart from minor incidents, this year’s election has been comparatively peaceful.

As predicted by the Central Security Committee, rift between the party members was the major security concern. During the Election Day, clashes between the party members were reported in several places throughout the country. Due to these clashes, voting was halted or briefly disrupted in several places. To control the clashes, police had to resort to firing warning shots to control clash in several places. According to a report, five temporary police and one policeman lost their lives while on duty during the election. Similarly, injuries were reported to several people including civilians and security personnel. The government had decided that the families of security personnel to be compensated Rs 2 million in case of death and to bear the treatment costs for injuries sustained during the deployment.

Photo : RSS

Although the elections were comparatively peaceful, some election commission officials have expressed dissatisfaction towards security agencies towards their preparedness. The officials also highlighted security lapses in several polling stations. The incident in Rautahat where the locals ran away with the ballot boxes from two different polling stations is a major security concern. However, the security officials have pointed out that lack of security personnel is the major cause of election mismanagement. Nepal Police has also refuted the claim that one of the reasons for security lapses is the hiring of inexperienced personnel for temporary police.

Flood Preparedness

According to the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, Nepal is expected to receive above average rainfall this year. A good monsoon is essential to boost the agricultural production and replenish the groundwater aquifers and reservoirs. The Department of Hydrology and Meteorology with the study from South Asian Seasonal Climate Outlook Forum (SASCOF) had predicted above average rainfall last year too. Despite the early warnings, the government did not take necessary precautions which directly resulted in the death of many people and caused damage to infrastructures and affected people’s livelihood. Furthermore, the rain also severely damaged the paddy production.

One of the main reasons for continued damage caused by rainfall is the government’s emphasis on distributing short term relief funds rather than coming up with long term disaster management plans. Likewise, previous years have indicated that there is a problem in dissemination of information regarding the weather. The department of hydrology and meteorology has already indicated the areas that might see above average rainfall this season. So, the government should identify potential risk factors in these areas and come up with a detailed plan to make the vulnerable communities resilient. Since farmers are one of the most vulnerable groups, the information regarding the weather must be shared timely so that they can make necessary preparations.

Looming Food Security Issues

Although good rain during the monsoon is important for a good harvest of paddy, the issues regarding the availability of fertiliser haven’t been resolved yet. According to different sources, two major suppliers of fertilisers have nearly exhausted their resources. Hence, along with the possible impact of heavy rain, lack of availability of fertilisers can add to the existing woes of the farmers. Last year, post monsoon rain destroyed the ready to harvest paddy crops, and the damages in the crop losses was estimated at around 0.6% of the GDP. Despite being an agrarian country, destruction of agricultural products as a result of heavy rain and fertiliser crisis is a recurring theme every year.

Similarly, wheat production is also projected to get hit this year due to the late plantation. The post monsoon rain delayed the paddy harvest which further delayed the wheat plantation. According to a report, wheat yield decreases by 1% each day of delayed sowing. Furthermore, India has imposed a ban on the export of wheat. According to the data of FY 20/21, it imported Rs 11.97 billion worth of wheat. Thus, low yield coupled with export ban imposed by India will have severe consequences to the food security of Nepal.

Supreme Court’s Decision regarding the Nijgadh Airport

On May 26th, Supreme Court ordered the government to look for alternative site for the construction Nijgadh International Airport. Conservationists and Environmentalists had been protesting the decision to construct Nijgadh citing environmental degradation reasons. The decision of the supreme court was welcomed by the environmentalists, whereas it was criticised by the politicians and the locals of Bara.

According to the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment), the construction of the airport required cutting down 2.4 million trees. Similarly, the EIA report in itself was criticised for lacking the details regarding social and environmental impacts and mitigation plans to address these issues. On the other hand, various political leaders have claimed that the decision from Supreme Court as baseless and urged to review the decision. Around Rs 2 billion has already been spent on the airport so far for preparing the master plan and conducting detailed feasibility study. While the Supreme Court realises the need for a second international airport, it has emphasised on finding an alternative location which would entail minimal environmental damages.  

Monkeypox cases raise alarm

The increasing cases of monkeypox outside of Africa has raised alarms around the world. Monkeypox. Monkeypox is transmitted to humans from animals like monkeys and rodents. Human to human transmission occurs through close contact with infected person’s body fluids, respiratory droplets, and blood. This disease is commonplace in west and central Africa, but recently the disease has spread in the non-endemic countries in North America and Europe. Since people frequently travel from these regions to Nepal, there is a potential risk of the spread of monkeypox virus. The government has urged the public to be extra careful and has suggested people travelling from foreign countries to quarantine. However, the officials at Tribhuvan International Airport have claimed that they haven’t received any instruction from the concerned authorities. Public health experts have urged that although the symptoms are mild, the risks associated with it shouldn’t be underestimated.

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