Volte face

The Nepal Communist Party government okays the Arun project the party had earlier panned

Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

-- NEPAL'S newly-constituted Communist Party government is no longer opposing the controversial World Bank-funded Arun III hydroelectric project in the country's northeast. Even during its election campaign, the Communist Party had joined ranks with anti-dam Nepali environmental activists, who contended that it would wreak havoc on the fragile cloud forest ecosystem of the Himalayas.

The demarcated project site shelters one of the few pristine forests left in the Himalayan range, as well as endangered species like the Asiatic black bear, the clouded leopard and the Annamese macaque. Under intense pressure, the World Bank was forced to review the project and adopt a more transparent style of functioning.

Intriguingly, the Communist Party took its time abandoning its stand after assuming power. It prompted the Bank to appoint an "inspection panel" to review environmental guidelines so far abided by the organisation in funding similar projects elsewhere. The reason for the party's turnaround: growing discontent among the citizens over recurrent and acute power shortages.

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