TAPLEJUNG, April 20: The construction of a much talked-about Himalayan Research Center in Khambachen of Taplejung for the study of snow leopards and other wild animals has not been confirmed even after three years of its announcement.
With the objective of giving research opportunity to 1,500 researchers each year, Kanchanjunga Conservation Area (KCA) had announced this project. The center will be constructed at an altitude of 4,100 meters. However, the criteria for first tender for the center have been scrapped saying they were incomplete.
Maheshraj Dahal, conservation officer of KCA, informed Republica that a second tender was announced within 15 days after the first tender was scrapped. The total cost of the center has been estimated to be Rs 100 million. In the current fiscal year (2018/19), Rs 10 million has been sanctioned for the center. However, the tender is yet to be announced.
"If the work is not started on time, the remaining budget of the current fiscal year sanctioned for the center will be returned," said Dahal. According to him, in the fiscal year 2016/17, a budget of Rs 29 million was allocated for the center. However, that year's budget froze as the project could not start that year.
For the second time, the government allocated a separate budget of Rs 22 million in the fiscal year 2017/18. Only Rs 500,000 from that year's budget was spent while the rest was frozen. Likewise, in the current fiscal year, Rs 10 million has been allocated for the project but the probability is high that this budget, too, will freeze as not even the tender process has begun yet.
Kanchenjunga Conservation Area Office and Management Association first introduced this project, which later reached the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Reserves and Forest Ministry. The northern parts of Taplejung are considered suitable for the study of rare and endangered wildlife and herbs.
This project was first announced in January, 2017 amidst a gathering in Kathmandu. Following which the government approved a detailed report submitted by the Association. The center will have all the necessary tools and equipment required for research. "Students and researchers can use this place as an open university to study natural resources, herbs, endangered species among others," said Hemraj Acharya, who has worked as conservation officer for about half a decade.