The Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) of Nepal, via letter dated 27 January 2004, provided a report addressing the concerns and issues raised by the IUCN mission report (2002) and the 27th session of the Committee. The report concedes that the Kasara Bridge over the Rapti River was constructed without an Environmental Impact Assesment (EIA). However, DNPWC has imposed restrictions on the use of the bridge and associated roads becoming fully operational. Local people have a positive attitude towards the conservation of the Park but are pressuring Park authorities to have the Kasara Bridge made fully operational. Locals believe that the Park authorities are instrumental in closing the road and are therefore increasingly hostile towards them.
DNPWC has imposed the following restrictions on the use of the Kasara bridge and associated link roads:
(a) the right of way has been granted to local residents of Madi Valley, but transportation of commercial goods will not be allowed beyond Madi Valley;
(b) permanent guard posts have been established and guard presence and patrolling strengthened;
(c) a commitment to close the existing Dhurba Rapti road once the bridge comes into operation has been made;
(d) the Department of Roads has been asked to stabilize the banks of the Rapti River prior to beginning the use of the road;
(e) proposals for future widening of the road have been rejected;
(f) the road that links the Tamar Tal (lake) with the link road is to be closed;
(g) use of the road will be monitored and vehicles and passengers will be checked as they enter or leave the Park;
(h) no resumption of any road construction work will be allowed before an EIA on the REV River is completed; and
(i) the 13 km road that links the Bagai-Amuwa-Thori will not be upgraded.
DNPWC has reported that anti-poaching efforts are now in full operation but has noted that for these efforts to be fully effective DNPWC needs the support of all its conservation partners. Furthermore, DNPWC has committed to follow all the conditions and provisions suggested by the IUCN mission regarding the Madi transmission line project.
IUCN, while noting the measures imposed by DNPWC, remained concerned that a road and bridge construction project could have been financed by donors in the absence of an Environmental Impact Assessment. IUCN recognized that the road development may provide benefits for local people, but the project should have been planned and implemented through a rigorous, open and participatory planning process giving due consideration to the World Heritage values of Royal Chitwan.
The Centre shall use the report submitted by DNPWC, and IUCN’s comments on that report, to discuss with concerned donors, as requested by the Committee (27 COM 7B.9, paragraph 2), the issue of financing a development project that did not have an EIA. A Centre staff met DNPWC officials on 4 May 2004 and requested the authorities to take corrective measures to mitigate the impact of the constructed bridge of the property. Due to time constraints, he was not able to meet representatives of the donor agencies. In this context, the Centre will write formally to the highest officials in each donor agency transmitting the concerns of the Committee (27 COM 7B.9) and explore ways by which recurrence of such poor practice could be avoided in the future in Nepal and elsewhere.