Deforestation makes Rangoon valley infertile

- CHITRANGA THAPA, DR PANTA, Dadeldhura
Deforestation makes Rangoon valley infertile

Jul 11, 2014-

Owing to the rampant destruction of the Chure region over the past decade, Rangoon Valley, which covers over 26 percent of the Chure hills in the far-west, is on the brink of extinction. The Valley that turned into a human settlement only five decades ago has served as an example of the negative effects of unchecked deforestation.

Over the past decade, more than two dozen such settlements have turned into sandy river banks due to rapid deforestation. And as told by local leader Kumbha Raj Budha, three villages had been swept away by river flowing through them in the last three years alone.

 “Rangoon Valley is just an example of how easily a human settlement can be destroyed if the state fails to do its part,” said Kailash Kumar Pandey, a local youth of Jogbudha who has been actively involved in the conservation of Chure region. Pandey alleged that the state had been indifferent towards the issue even after the entire human settlement was on the verge of being destroyed due to widespread deforestation by the smugglers working in collusion with officers at the District Forest Office.

And while Jogbudha Valley has been connected by road to both hills and Tarai, one can easily observe that the roads are meant not for the development of the region, but to facilitate timber smuggling.

“One does not need to ask about the scale of destruction as one can see the destruction for themselves,” said Tek Bahadur Bishwokarma of Aalitaal VDC, referring to Rangoon Valley, which has been reduced to a tiny settlement along the river banks. Bishwokarma said that the new settlement had been destroyed even before the first generation of those who settled there found the time to use the land.

Bishwokarma said that he had migrated to Rangoon Valley, once famous as the “food store” of the far-west, 15 years ago in pursuit of better opportunities. However, over the years Bishwokarma’s lifestyle has been reduced to that of a squatter. According to him, it was not the erosions caused by Rangoon, Mahakali, Sandani, Pantura, and Shirsha rivers, but the streams that had sprouted following the deforestation that swept the lands. Meanwhile, Narayan Dutt Bhatta, the headmaster of Siddhanath Higher Secondary School, said that inaction on the part of educated locals had emboldened the spirit of the smugglers working in collusion with the authorities, resulting in mass displacement of the ignorant locals.

Even experts on river and flood control including those working to conserve Chure region said that the government had been greatly biased towards the region.

According to Chief Engineer of the Dadeldhura Geological Conservation Office, Dambar Bahadur Thapa, the allocation of the budget by the state for the region was not only irrational, but also unscientific. Thapa further said that although they had been lobbying officially at the ministerial level for proper programme and budget allocation for the conservation of the area since decades, “it had fallen on deaf ears.”

However, an optimistic Bhatta said that a little of what is left of the Rangoon Valley could still be salvaged if the government were to take the responsibility

of the development of the area sincerely. 

Published: 12-07-2014 08:55

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