BIRGUNJ, Dec 21: The ongoing protest against pollution in Raxaul of India is likely to affect over a dozen cement factories in Birgunj-Pathlaiya Industrial Corridor.
The concerned industrialists have already notified the designated government agencies of both Nepal and India about the protest.
Nepal's imports have been regularly hit by the ongoing dispute between locals of Raxaul and Indian Railway. Locals of bordering Indian town of Raxaul are been protesting against import of clinker among others via Indian Railway to Nepal, saying that such import was causing negative impacts on human health. They have threatened to close the Nepal-India border from December 25.
Nepali cement industries in Birgunj-Pathlaiya corridor, which depend on imported clinkers, will be hardly hit if the protesters close the border.
“We have already notified the Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Commerce, Nepali Embassy in New Delhi, Parsa District Administration Office and Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry as well as the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu and the Consulate General of India in Birgunj about the problem,” Madhav Rajpal, coordinator of Customs and Railway Transportation Committee of Birgunj Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said.
“The problem raised by Raxaul locals is very serious. The Indian Railways should take needful measures to reduce pollution within three months as per the order of the Patna High Court,” Regmi said, adding, “But the frequent protests against the imports before the timeframe given by the court has left us worried.”
The Indian Railways should either tell us that it cannot supply clinker to us or take needful measures to reduce pollution, said Regmi. “If the border is closed, it will affect not only the cement industries but also Nepal's foreign trade,” he added.
Mukesh Kumar Agrawal, who had funded the border blockade in 2016 by providing food and other supplies to the protesters, is leading the protest. “We have no hard feelings against Nepal and its people. But something has been done to control pollution as we cannot allow industries to prosper at the cost of human health,” added Agrawal.
Locals of Ramgadhwa, a town 15 kilometers south of Raxaul where the Indian Railways is building a yard to unload clinkers, has already started process under the leadership of one Arjun Singh Bharati.
Series of protest against import of clinkers have left owners of cement industries worried. Cement industries in Birgunj-Pathlaiya corridor have production capacity ranging from 250 to 1,050 tons per day. These industries produce 8,000 tons of cement per day. They import 80 percent of clinkers from India.
Local industrialists say dusty cargo can be unloaded within Nepali territory itself. As the railway line has reached up to Sirsiya dry port, they say that the problem can be solved by building a separate yard at the dry port.