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On 5th June 2014, more than 2000 people, 40 constituent assembly members, tourists and Buddhist monks came together to spread the message of tree conservation by hugging trees.

Forest covers about 31% land of our planet. According to the WWF each year, 46-48 thousand square miles of the forest is wiped off all around the world–which accounts for 48 football fields in a minute. The efforts made for afforestation is low in comparison to the massive deforestation. This alarming threat is rising every day but our political leaders are not focusing on restoration and protection of this natural asset.

In May 2013, the Government of Nepal decided to chop down more than 1200 trees from Kalanki-Koteshwar for the highway extension. We a group of activists visited Kathmandu Valley Town Development Authority to request for some alternative measures to conserve these trees. The decision of chopping down these patches of trees was not just a threat to humans but also to the inhabitants residing there. We decided to protest against this unsustainable expansion of the roads, however, the protest did not fall on the interest of people and failed due to lack of sufficient support.

It was then when I realized a widening gap between trees and us, the city dwellers. The problem was with our affection towards trees. As we failed to withdraw government’s decision and its interest towards conservation, in July 2013 I envisioned of a campaign called ‘One Tree My Responsibility’. The idea was to provide a tree sapling to students from 5th to 10th grade and ask them to take its responsibility for a year. If they succeed taking care of it and planted the sapling then they would be considered as ‘Green Volunteers”. We approached Nobel Academy’s Director, Mr. Rabin Dahal with the concept of our project. The campaign was officially launched in August 2013, bringing 1200 students from Nobel Academy, Kathmandu. The same year, we expanded our campaign to Gorkha adding up a larger number of  4000+ green volunteer. 

Though the idea was appreciated and widely featured by the media it was difficult for our young team to sustain the campaign. We then thought of bringing some through a new campaign–something that could with resources to continue our work. We thought of “The Largest Tree Hug” event and start working on it.

On 5th June 2015, the event was largely successful. As we intended, the message was all over the world. We were awestruck to see the popularity our event gained as it was featured all over the world. Even after such appreciation, we  could not fuel our initial thought of sustaining One Tree My Responsibility. I, however, plan to work on the campaign to sustain it. The campaign will resume from late 2018. Stay connected through our official website, www.otmr.org

Click here to access to an introductory video of One Tree My Responsibility Initiative. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8ktfigL74g


Media, News

Joshua Hammer MAY 12, 2016 ISSUE

by Thomas Bell
London: Haus, 500 pp., $29.95
Battles of the New Republic: A Contemporary History of Nepal
by Prashant Jha
London: Hurst, 358 pp., $30.00 (paper) (distributed in the US by Oxford University Press)

Early one morning I set out from Kathmandu in a four-wheel-drive vehicle for Sindhupalchowk district, just east of Gorkha, where some of the worst earthquake damage had occurred. According to government statistics, 96.8 percent of the district’s houses were destroyed, 3,550 people were killed, and thousands injured. I was joined on the journey by Pradip Khatiwada, the coordinator of the National Volunteering Program, one of the many unlicensed groups that are providing building materials and other supplies to villagers who had been abandoned by the Nepali government. His group has seven thousand volunteers, and is active in fourteen out of seventy-five districts. Driving out of the Kathmandu Valley, we passed long lines of motorcyclists waiting to fill their tanks with their allotted five liters of fuel. The blockade had lifted days earlier, but India was sending only 70 percent of its normal fuel supplies, and the shortages continued. “During the worst of the fuel crisis lines were three miles long, and people waited for twelve hours or more,” he told me. “So this is a big improvement.”

A few miles down a dirt track past the heavily damaged district capital, Chautara, we came upon Peepaldada, a hamlet of six hundred people clinging to a hillside overlooking a fertile valley. Ten months after the earthquake, most of the population was still living beneath tarpaulins. “The winter was very difficult for us,” a toothless old man told me. Some had built crude structures using the rubble from their destroyed homes; the neediest had received iron frames from the volunteer group, which they had lined with corrugated tin walls and covered with a tin roof. The only assistance they had received from the government was 10,000 rupees in emergency relief just after the earthquake ($100), 15,000 rupees received in December to get them through the winter, and eight pieces of corrugated tin. Khatiwada, the volunteer coordinator, told me that during the last few weeks the government’s paralysis had begun to ease. The Reconstruction Authority had dispatched teams into the hills to assess damage and had announced a payment of 200,000 rupees to each homeless family. It had also pledged to guarantee loans of up to 2.5 million rupees per family so that they could complete construction of their new houses. Payment was contingent upon the families’ choosing from one of fifteen different earthquake-resistant designs formulated by structural engineers. The government had pledged to build 600,000 houses in the next year, but Khatiwada told me that that goal was unreachable. “It will be more like five years,” he told me.

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Media, News
After all the difficulties Nepal faced in 2015, all of us are looking forward to a better, brighter and more positive year. So, what kind of changes do you wish to see this year? Till you ponder on this, some known personalties — who have made invaluable contribution to bring positive change in the country — share with The Himalayan Times.
Change you wish for in 2016

I would like to see Nepal giving more emphasis on hydropower, solar power and wind energy production. The goals of making the country independent of fossil fuel should be accomplished. Reconstruction, rebuilding of destroyed cultural and religious monuments should be emphasised. Ongoing protest in Tarai must end fulfilling genuine demands. Discrimination based on race, caste, ethnicity, and religion should end. I want to see Nepal following the path of sustainable development giving more emphasis on greener alternatives, promoting Nepal as a green destination of the world.

How is it possible?

In order to attain the change, an individual while doing business should give importance towards environment, economy and inclusion. If a person believes s/he shouldn’t harm the environment then the environment never gets polluted. Inclusion, economy and environment will guide people to contribute to bring change from an individual level.

Your contribution

Preserving environment by not using plastic bags and working for its effective implementation together with Environment Protection Committee (EPC=), Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology and Environment Division are my contributions. I am also working for earthquake victims by constructing resilient homes, distributing relief materials and medicines and creating leaders through impact leadership development course.
— Pradip Khatiwada, Social Activist

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