Nepal industrialists face hardships over settlements

Kathmandu / DPA

Industrialists in Birgunj, southern Nepal, have complained that increasing human settlements around the Birgunj industrial corridor has made it difficult for them to operate their factories.
About half a dozen new residential areas have sprung up along the industrial corridor from Gandak to Pathlaiya. The industrial zone is one of the largest manufacturing centres in the country. In addition to homes, markets have also developed along the corridor, and there is growing movement of people.
Land plotting and sales of housing plots in Simara have soared. New settlements are
appearing on the eastern and southern sides of Surya Nepal, a multinational company. Likewise, land plotting and land sales are on the rise between
Jitpur and Parwanipur.
Factory owners fear that the proliferating housing colonies in the industrial zone could hinder manufacturing activities in the future. They are concerned that the rapidly spreading residential areas may force them to relocate if something is not done now.
Two years ago, locals had launched a strong protest movement against a cement factory in Parwanipur owned by the Chachan Group for spreading pollution. The factory installed pollution control equipment but that did not satisfy the locals. As a result, the factory’s operation was hit for almost a month.
Jagadamba Steel in Simara also faced a similar protest last year. Factories related to meat and skin in the industrial corridor have often been targets for protestors.
Pradeep Kedia, president of the Birgunj Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that operating factories would become very difficult in the future if human settlements continued to grow at the current rapid rate.
He added that locals had started complaining about noise, air and water pollution. They have been obstructing factory operations by putting forward various demands.
“Although the government has designated this region as an industrial corridor, the factories here have not been getting the treatment provided in industrial estates,” he said, demanding that the government declare the area an industrial zone.
Sobodh Kumar Gupta, vice-president of the Birgunj Chamber, said there would be problems for both the factories and the locals in the future if housing colonies continued to expand. “Providing electricity to the factories and the residents at the same time could become a problem in the future,” he said.
According to Gupta, problems such as pollution, traffic jams and road accidents could arise and affect industrial operation. Under current laws, industrialists are allowed to establish factories near human settlements and people are permitted to build homes near factories.
“Until zoning is done and the region is divided into industrial and residential areas, problems will grow in the future,” said Gupta.
According to him, the land mafia has been making tonnes of money by selling land around the industrial corridor.

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