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India and Nepal: China’s building spree in Nepal is putting strain on the Himalayan ecosystem by Johan Augustin January 12,2022   |  Source: Scroll

Trucks stir up dust on the gravel road here in Syabrubesi, an eight-hour drive from Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. From Syabrubesi, the road winds 11 km north to the border with China, the only open route north since a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in 2015 devastated much of the region.

The road itself is being widened and the trucks carrying rock and gravel here are part of China’s global Belt and Road Initiative, one of many infrastructure projects in Nepal being financed by its powerful neighbour. Next to the road, a group of Nepali workers are building a tunnel through a mountain, watched over by a Chinese supervisor. Further up the road, Neehima Sangbo Tamang is bracing for the inevitable moment when his land and home are lost to the road-widening project. “We will have to move shortly,” he said, adding that the government’s promised compensation will not cover for the loss.

China’s role in Nepal has intensified in the period since the 2015 earthquake, mostly in the form of investments in rebuilding projects. For decades, Nepal’s southern neighbour, India, was its main economic partner, a role that is now being challenged by China. In 2019 alone, China initiated a series of projects, including factories and hydropower plants, worth $2.4 billion in Nepal –

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