South Asia

Published: Wednesday 31 August 1994

With mid-term polls in Nepal due in November, the Arun dam project is set to become a major poll issue. The Nepali Congress government is trying to highlight the $764-million project's employment potential in the eastern hills. The powerful United Marxist-Leninist opposition, however, is pointing to alleged kickbacks and a possible 200 per cent hike in electricity tariffs.

Bangladesh has compelled the us-based Gaston Copper Recycling Inc, which had shipped 6,300 tonnes of fertiliser mixed with toxic heavy metals to the country in 1991 to take it all back. Bangladesh government officials, in consultation with the US government, are now finalising the shipping arrangements.

The fertiliser scandal had cast a shadow over Bangladesh when the Bangladesh Agricultural Department Corporation imported the consignment. By the time contamination was confirmed, some of the fertiliser had already been used. As pressure mounted from environmental groups, the Bangladesh government suspended distribution of the toxic fertiliser and filed a $11,250,000 suit on the us firm for damages.

The Sindh province in Pakistan has followed the example of Quetta city. A ban on the manufacture, sale and use of polythene bags (Down To Earth, August 15, 1994) will come into force in the province on August 26. Sindh chief minister Syed Abdullah Shah says that the bags litter cities and choke sewerage lines. Polythene bag manufacturers, however, view the ban as a reflection of their weak political clout and the government's failure in handling its civic responsibilities.

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