Forest encroachment alarming across country, AG report shows
Apr 20, 2014-
A total of 93,283 hectares of forestland was encroached in 63 districts for settlement and agriculture purposes last fiscal year, a government report said.
The annual report made public by the Attorney General last week showed 740 different forest areas were encroached by 121,234 households to build 30,194 temporary shifts and create farmland. Of the total encroachment, around 88 percent (81,416 hectares) was reported from 16 Tarai districts stretching from Jhapa to Kanchanpur. Other districts are Kailali, Kapilvastu, Rupandehi, Udaypaur, Nawalparasi, Makwanpur, Rautahat, Dang, Banke, Ilam, Sunsari, Chitwan, Sindhuli and Siraha.
Krishna Acharya, spokesperson for the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, said unlike in the past, particularly during the armed insurgency, no massive resettlement programme for landless squatters was implemented recently. However, migration and other illegal activities led to the invasion for human settlement and expansion of agricultural areas.
The AG’s report states that in order to control the increasing rate of forest encroachment, the government introduced the Forest Encroachment Control Working Plan (2011) but there had been no significant progress.
The District Forest Encroachment Control and Management Task Force has been formed in 26 districts and the remaining districts are in the process of having them. Between 2012 and 2013, the ministry aimed to prevent 205.5 hectares of forest from being encroached and succeeded in conserving 689.5 hectares. “There is the need for a special programme in most affected districts and implement it at the earliest to control encroachment and expand the forest cover,” the report recommends.
1,837 hectares denuded in Banke
THAKUR SINGH THARU A large area of national forest has been encroached upon in the name of flood victims, landless people and freed Kamaiyas in the district, the District Forest Office (DFO) said. According to the DFO, around 1,837 of the total 57,740 hectares of national forest in the district has have been encroached upon in 69 places.
Forest officials said the encroachment started in 2027 BS and is still going on. They said 2,606 houses and huts have been built on the encroached land.
Forest land has been encroached upon in Gangapur, Kohala, Matehiya, Salapur, Badikatti, Kardhaniya, Nainapur, Daulatpur and Nauwasta areas, among others. Forest land at Sutaiyadanda in Nauwasta-7 was encroached upon between 2060 BS to 2062 BS. Sixteen hectares of forest land has been encroached upon in the area by 65 families. Likewise, 20 hectares of forest land at Kohalpur has been encroached upon in the name of freed Kamaiyas and 450 families are residing there.
Officials said political instability and party leaders’ pressure are to blame for the situation. “Land encroachment has taken place with the support of political parties. It is impossible to evict encroachers without support from the parties,” Assistant Forest Officer Ganesh Bahadur Khadka said.
“National forest is being denuded in the district. The situation may worsen if the government does not initiate efforts to stop encroachment,” Khadka said.
A strategy to control land encroachment prepared by the government in 2068 BS is yet to be implemented.
The DFO said it has devised a strategy to vacate the encroached land within five years. Officials said they will hold consultations with political parties and security officials on the matter.
Encroachers, however, said they are left with no alternatives other than living in the forest land as “the government is yet to provide them land to live in”.
Published: 20-04-2014 08:24