June Analysis: National Security and Climate Change

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Timeline of key events:

DateKey Events
June 13The meeting of the House of Representatives has directed the government to make fertilisers accessible to farmers.
June 13International Relations Committee (IRC) has directed the government to start the construction work of Nijgadh airport, despite the ruling of Supreme Court to halt the construction of airport and look for alternative sites
June 18Farmers looted two trucks carrying fertilisers en route to Kathmandu

Fertiliser Crisis: Is organic fertiliser the way forward?

The fertiliser crisis has been a pertinent and ongoing issue in Nepal. Since this is the paddy plantation season, the demand for chemical fertilisers is also high. However, the government’s inability to procure adequate fertilisers to meet the demands of farmers have moved the farmers to desperation. This desperation was indicated by an incident in Dhading district where the farmers seized control and looted two trucks of fertilisers being transported to Kathmandu. Prior to this incident, the truck was taken under control by the Inland Revenue Department for importing fertilisers from India by evading the customs. During the June 13 meeting of the House of Representatives, the lawmakers have directed the government to address this issue by making fertilisers accessible to the farmers. Fertiliser crisis could further lead to food security issues and clashes/riots within the communities which could have implications for national security.

Through the recent budget of FY 22/23, the government has allocated Rs 15 billion for fertiliser purchase. Furthermore, the government has assured that Nepal will sign a 5-year government-to-government deal with India. Although Nepal has signed various agreements with India, they have been signed on an ad-hoc basis. However, the deal will only be able to meet 30% of the annual demand. Thus, the government still doesn’t have an adequate plan to address the issue.

Nepal has also been exploring with the idea to produce its own fertilisers. However, according to a feasibility study conducted regarding this highlighted that the most feasible fertiliser plant would be through electricity, which would be costlier to farmers than the exported fertilisers.

Due to the lack of permanent solutions, the debate has shifted towards replacing chemical fertilisers with organic fertilisers. Research has indicated that organic fertilisers can substitute chemical fertilisers for small scale farmers. However, for large scale farms, chemical fertilisers are directly linked with the productivity. Thus, transitioning to organic fertilisers will directly impact the yield of crops. However, others have argued that right kind of organic fertiliser along with the knowledge of nitrogen-fixation intercropping will improve the yield. Although organic fertilisers can be used to gradually substitute chemical fertilisers, the government should immediately focus on making the chemical fertilisers available.

Photo : RSS

Nijgadh Airport: Reaction to Supreme Court’s Decision

Supreme Court ordered the government to halt the construction of Nijgadh airport and look for the alternatives for the construction of Nijgadh International Airport, citing environmental problems. However, the full text regarding the decision is yet to be published. This decision was met with criticism from the locals of the region.

Chief Minister of Madhes Province, Lal Babu Raut highlighted that the construction of the airport shouldn’t be halted. He further explained that Nijgadh airport is an important key for the development of the province. Similarly, International Relations Committee (IRC) of Lower House has instructed the government to resume the construction of the airport. IRC had prepared an annual report which highlighted that deferring the construction of the airport could have detrimental impact to the economy of the country. Furthermore, the report suggests the government to take necessary legal and administrative actions for the continuation of the process. This step of IRC has been slammed by the civil society leaders claiming that it goes against the spirit of an independent judiciary. Furthermore, the need for a second international airport is well established. Hence, the supreme court has ordered to look for alternative sites for the construction of the airport to minimise the environmental damages, rather than halting the entire project. Likewise, disagreement between different bodies relating to the implementation of the project has created confusion among the public and put the entire project in jeopardy.

Cyber Security

The cases of cybercrimes have skyrocketed in the past few years. According to a police report, younger generation is increasingly becoming the victim of cybercrimes due to easy access to internet. The government had set up a National Cyber Security Monitoring Centre in 2076 and has allocated Rs 8 million in this year’s budget. However, the lawmakers have questioned the work done by the centre in order to address cyber security related issues. Furthermore, a draft bill on cyber security was made public by the Nepal Telecommunication Authority (TAN).

Experts have argued that the draft bill doesn’t address the cyber issues ranging from external aggression and international litigation. Furthermore, the bill only addresses computer systems and fails to address security issues arising from cyber-attacks. Another issue arising from lack of concrete cyber laws is inflow of FDIs in the information and technology sector. According to a report, FDI pledges in the IT sector decreased by 409% in the current fiscal year. Hence, it is important that the government focuses on bringing out concrete cyber security laws to address some of the pertinent cyber related issues which would also help in raising the confidence of foreign investors.

Protection of Chure region

Madhes Province has initiated ‘Chure Jogau, Madhes Bachau’ (Conserve Chure, Save Madhes) campaign and has allocated Rs 181 million for the cause. Furthermore, the government has also been reviewing the 20-year Chure-Terai Madhes conservation and management master plan. Around 5 million people live in the Chure region, and their livelihood is dependent upon the ecosystem services provided by the region, from water resources to community forestry. However, unchecked stone extraction and deforestation have caused the destruction of chure region. The impact of these activities is seen in the flooding and landslides in the region, loss of fertile land due to deposition of sand, and drying up of water sources, which has ultimately led to the desertification of terai region.

Hence, ‘Chure Jogau, Madhes Bachau’ campaign will focus on chure conservation through soil erosion and landslide control, reforestation programs, reservoir and pond construction, and watershed conservation, among others. Similarly, the Chure-Terai Madhes conservation and master plan is set to be completed within this fiscal year. This master plan will be significant as it will specify the roles of provincial and local bodies in the conservation of the Chure region. Although the government has set different policies to protect the region, proper implementation has hindered the conservation process.

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