Banned plastic garlands across the market due to customs glitches

Kathmandu’s Asan market is buzzing with imported flowers made of plastic, paper, etc. Now there is a large presence of artificial flower buyers in the market.

As in previous years, this year too, most of the shops in the market area have been colorfully decorated with artificial flowers and garlands. It is doing its business confidently even in the rush hour.

From the squares and streets of Kathmandu, you can find artificial flowers and garlands in markets all over the country.

It seems that these flowers are used to decorate the house and exterior during Tihar and in some cases as garlands and jajankas. According to a businessman, the demand for such flower garlands for tihar garlands and door decorations is high.

However, according to the laws of Nepal, not only buying and selling these garlands, but also importing and storing them is punishable. While the government is busy collecting revenue by allowing the import of such goods by mixing the rules it has made by itself, even though it is restricted, the open business has also been exempted.

The government issued a notice in the gazette on July 12, prohibiting all types of artificial flowers and garlands in Nepal. “It has been decided to completely ban the production, import, sale, distribution and storage of plastic flower bouquets throughout Nepal using the authority given by sub-section (6) of section 15 of the Environment Protection Act 2076,” it is mentioned in the gazette published by the Ministry of Forests and Environment.

After the notice is published in the statutory gazette, such a decision comes into full effect and is enforced by law.

However, what is surprising is that such flower garlands, which have been banned by the government, are being legally imported through the customs system and are being distributed throughout the market.

According to the statistics published by the Customs Department up to August, 28,685 kg of plastic garlands worth 92,18,000 have been imported into Nepal in July and August of the current financial year alone. According to the data, even after the import ban, 13 thousand 200 kg of such garlands were imported in Nepal through the legal system.

Even though the government imposed a ban from July 12, 15,441 kg of such garlands worth Rs 5,676,000 entered Nepal throughout the month.

It is both the right and responsibility of the Customs Department to stop the importation of prohibited goods through the Gazette. If a matter is not clear, he should also provide more information about it and necessary arrangements.

On 13 Baisakh, the import of 10 types of goods, including luxury and expensive vehicles, was banned until mid-June. Later, the government had to publish a gazette to allow the import of goods with LC opened before the gazette about the ban.

However, the Customs Department ignored the same gazette published by the Ministry of Environment regarding the ban on artificial flowers and garlands.

Flower traders accuse the customs officials of violating the law by colluding with artificial flower importers.

Min Bahadur Tamang, the president of Nepal Floriculture Association, remembers that after the notification in the gazette, the government agencies were specially requested to take an interest in this context.

“We told all the state agencies that Nepalese farmers’ garlands will not be sold, but artificial flowers will fill the market,” President Tamang says. It is dishonest.’

A conflict of interest between customs and the environment

On Thursday, the environment department, which had its hands tied after issuing the gazette, warned against the sale and distribution of such flower garlands.

After the news that artificial flower garlands were found in the market became public, the department issued a public notice and warned that those involved in the business of such garlands will be fined up to one lakh rupees.

However, the department, which has the right and responsibility to confiscate flower garlands from the market, is not planning to take action to interfere with the rampant import and sale.

Namraj Ghimire, director general of the environment department, presented a different argument about the import of plastic garlands. Ghimire claims that in the gazette notification issued by the government, it has been arranged that such items with LCs open can be imported until August 1st.

“It is clearly written in the gazette that such items can be imported until August 1st,” Director General Ghimire said.

However, according to the gazette published on 12th July, the production, import and sale of all types of plastic flower garlands, bouquets and accessories are prohibited in Nepal from the same day.

Officials of the Customs Department claim that the Ministry of Forests and Environment has written a letter not to stop the import of artificial flowers and garlands, even after the notification of the ban in the gazette. Sources in the customs department claim that even though the department received such a letter based on the complaints of businessmen, the import was allowed to be exempted from customs.

“There was a correspondence between us to keep the import of flowers in Pratriya open, but initially the leadership of the customs department did not accept it,” says the official.

Despite the ban, Kamal Prasad Bhattarai, director general of the customs department, did not want to come in contact with Online Khabar when he sought to understand the legal customs clearance of artificial garlands. Customs Information Officer Punya Bikram Khadka said that he is ignorant about this and will speak only after further study.

Birgunj Customs Office said that there is no ban on the import of plastic flower garlands.

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