Indigenous Tharus in eastern Nepal mark their win over Regional Waste Management Project

Biratnagar, 11 March 2013

After Finland’s Government formally withdrew its support to Regional Waste Management Project for eastern Nepal citing dissent from ‘locals’ last month, indigenous Tharus of Dangraha village in Morang district on Monday marked their victory over their lands acquired for construction of landfill site in the village under the project.

Under joint financing of Governments of Finland and Nepal, the project was initiated for waste management of different municipalities and villages of Sunsari and Morang districts. It had planned to build landfill site in Dangraha village predominantly populated by indigenous Tharus since centuries.

The land for the proposed landfill site had earlier been acquired from local Tharus for construction of hospital and school for the village. It was later proposed as the landfill site without obtaining their free, prior and informed consent that they are entitled to under international human rights obligations of Nepal, including International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 169 and UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Local Tharus organized through trainings on ILO Convention 169 and UNDRIP mobilized against the construction of landfill site in the village. “The project undertaken without our consent, if implemented, posed grave risks of violations of our rights to lands, livelihoods and good environment,” said local indigenous peoples’ human rights defender Dev Raj Chaudhary.

“So, we raised our voices against the project to the government authorities and Finnish government and are glad to win back our lands.”

Local community organized a program on Monday to honor Lawyers Association for Human Rights of Nepalese Indigenous Peoples (LAHURNIP) and its officials who helped them to understand their rights and mobilize and lobby against violation thereof.

“The withdrawal of the project is a remarkable triumph of local indigenous Tharus to keep their ancestral lands,” Shankar Limbu, LAHURNIP Secretary remarked while receiving the honor. “The dissent in Dangraha against the project is only a representative case of movement of Tharus and other indigenous communities in Nepal to assert their rights over their traditional lands and territories.”

“I hope this success in Dangraha will inspire indigenous communities all over Nepal to make greater efforts for their rights,” he added.

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