NAWALPARASI, Nov 7: Of late, political parties of Nepal are increasingly providing election tickets to people with criminal background. Along with gangster Deepak Manange, those who have secured tickets for the upcoming parliamentary and provincial elections also include people who are involved in illegal river excavation activities.
The situation is especially dire in Nawalparasi district. People known to have been involved in illegal river extractions that have severely endangered ecological balance of the environment have received green signal to contest in the upcoming elections through various parties of the district.
The news may not surprise everybody as it is an open secret that many people involved in such illegal activities have joined politics for protection. Likewise, parliamentarian, ministers and former ministers and cadres of various parties have invested in many of the crusher industries in the district.
Those crusher industries are operating against the regulations set by the government while being remaining untouched by the law enforcement agencies due to political protection.
One among such candidates is Bishnu Karki, nominated by Nepali Congress (NC) as candidate of the district's constituency-2 in the upcoming parliamentary elections. Karki is the operator of Smirti Construction Service Company and Manakamana Miller Product. He is also a member of NC's mahasamiti.
Although his construction company's permit expired two years ago, they have not stopped extracting minerals from Kerunge River, the District Monitoring Committee has found. Karki has also kept tons of stockpiles of minerals extracted from the river.
After the findings of wrongdoing, the committee was preparing slap fines on 12 crusher industries of the district. However, Karki who is known to have good relationship with NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba and other senior leaders used his political influence to transfer two local development officers within seven months for speaking against the crusher industries.
Karki also has not paid his revenue tax to the District Coordination Committee (DCC). Out of the Rs 20.9 million, he owes as tax, his company has cleared only Rs 5.4 million.
Despite the controversy, he is currently busy in door-to-door election campaigns to gather support of voters.
Likewise, NC parliamentarian Tirtha Lama, former forest minister and NC central committee member Shankar Bhandari and current Forest Minister Bikram Pandey among others have also been left scot-free despite allegations of their involvement in illegal activities.
Lama and Bhandari have investment in Nangshala Roda Stone Industry in Kharpachowk along BP Highway. The company was among the seven companies listed for penalty by the monitoring committee two years ago.