Photo Courtesy: TAAN Website Green pastures in the Badimalika Temple area, in Bajura district in this undated photo.
DHANGADI, Dec 25: Considered as the least developed region of the country, the far west registers over 45 percent poverty. With the country implementing federalism that is expected to change the fate of all provinces, Province 7 also looks forward to rapid development.
Leaders and civic society leaders are considering all development potentials that the province has. And, they feel that it is possible for the province to stand above all others provinces in terms of prosperity and development.
“We are huge scope for developing herbs, hydro and tourism sector,” notes Dr Hemraj Panta, a professor at the Kailali Multiple Campus in Kailali. “We have to categorize our projects and priorities and accomplish them one by one,” added Panta, who is also a former registrar of the Far Western University.
This province alone has the capacity to generate one third of the total hydropower capacity of the country. If it is tapped, way to prosperity will be ensured, Panta says.
“We must invest in the hydropower sector. One third of the country’s total hydropower capacity can be generated from this province alone. So, this alone can pave a way for our prosperity,” he said.
Karnali, Pancheshwor, West Seti, Budhiganga and Chamelia River hydropower projects are some of the biggest hydropower projects. Panta stressed on the need to exploit hydropower potential to deliver a significant boost to the province’s and the national economy.
Another area that has potential for uplifting poverty from the region is tourism. Most of the Indian cities, including India’s capital New Delhi, are near to this province, which is home to many sacred religious sites. Panta states that the flow of Indian tourist to various religious sites in the province will increase once these sites are connected with proper roads and travel facilities. “Many Indians will visit religious shrines situated in this province. We share same religious heritage and proper road connectivity and travel facility can be big factor in attracting religious tourists,” he noted.
Lake Manasarovar is one of the most popular religious sites in China for which Indian tourists come to Nepal. Due to the route hassles, most of them first take a flight to Kathmandu and then head for Manasarovar with several tours and travel agencies. “They spend millions of rupees every year to get to Mount Kailash and Manasarovar,” Panta said. “If we can open an easy route to reach Manasarovar, Indian tourists will definitely love to travel this way,” he added.
Krishna Mahara, a tourism entrepreneur from Dhangadi, agrees to Panta. If we can open the track from here and cut down the cost to visit Manasarovar, thousands more Indian tourists will travel to the pilgrimage. “Presently only affluent Indians have been able to afford pilgrimage to Manasarovar. But if we can make the journey cheaper, it will do wonders in boosting religious tourism,” he said.
Apart from Manasarovar, religious sites like the Badhimalika temple in Bajura, Behedababa temple in Kailali and the Badhikedar in Doti district, among others can attract many Hindus pilgrims. Mahara assumes that millions of people from Uttarakhand state of India alone will tour these areas if they are advertised.
“These sites are very near to geographically. In lack of proper roads and advertisement, we don’t see many of them visiting these sites. Once we build better roads to these sites and advertise accordingly, tourism will thrive here,” he marked.
Sanjay Chaudhari, another businessperson from Kailali, said people from Rudrapur, Bareli, Gudgaun, Lucknow and Kanpur of India will visit the religious sites much willingly. “There are many cities of India that are near to our province. By advertising we can attract them to see mountains and temples here,” he said.
Chaudhari stated that Khaptad is one of the major sites too, for visitors along with natural scenic sites like the Ghodaghodi Lake, Suklafanta National Park, Tripurasundari temple.
Rich in Herbs
Another richness of this region is herb. Apart from the much known Yarshagumba, the province has potential to produce and export many herbs. China and India both could be an ardent buyer of the herbs, opined Dharma Dev Bhatta, chief of Aishwarya Multiple College, Kailali. “We must develop efficient herbs farming and processing systems. This will provide a significant boost to our economy,” he said. In lack of processing technology, the country has been compromising a lot in profit, he noted.
The biggest challenge against development in the province is the lack of roads, locals comment. They say that proper road networks will ensure the instant development of the province. “In lack of easy access, our productions have failed to reach the right market. Once we get the roads and bridges in place, no one can stop prosperity here,” says Panta. “Due to its topography, road construction here is a bit challenging. But we can’t sit tight repeating this excuse, It’s time for us to rise,” he added.