Nearly five years after the end of a 10 year civil war that killed around 13,000, Nepal on Tuesday destroyed the last remaining land mine in the country.
With completion of the demining drill at Pulchowki in Lalitpur on the outskirts of the capital by the army, Nepal became the second country in Asia after China to get rid of land mines.
The last land mine was destroyed in the presence of Prime Minister Jhalanath Khanal, senior Nepal Army brass and officials of United Nations Mine Action Team (UNMAT). The land mine at Pulchowki was among the 257 land mines planted at 53 locations by Nepal Army to protect its installations after it was deployed against the Maoist Peoples’ Liberation Army during the civil war.
Clearing of the land mines is part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed by the Maoists, the Nepal government and a seven-party alliance in 2006 that led to the end of the civil war. Nearly 500 incidents of land mine casualties — 78 fatal — were reported during the civil war while, four others were killed and 19 injured in land mine-related accidents after signing of the peace accord.
Although the accord required both NA and Maoists to provide details of land mines within 30 days of signing the deal and finish demining work in 60 days-the process lasted nearly five years. Tuesday’s development was hailed as an important milestone in the peace process by the prime minister, but Nepal is yet to complete the task of rehabilitating 19,000 PLA combatants stationed in cantonments.