Encroachment of forest land goes unabated

- DILLIRAM KHATIWADA, Udaypur

Jul 19, 2014-

Despite continued efforts of the District Forest Office (DFO) to check deforestation, rampant encroachment of forest land is still on the rise, hence proving that measures that have been taken to stop it have so far been ineffective.

According to the DFO, 7,438 hectares of land belonging to more than a dozen VDCs and municipalities have been encroached upon in the district. Records show that the encroachment of forest land that started since the political referendum of 2036 BS has continued to increase over the years owing to the political instability in the country. DFO further said that lack of cooperation from the political parties has always been a major hurdle in tackling the problem. Furthermore, forest officials said that they have been unable to enforce the policies on forest management and community forestry due to the non-compliance of the political parties.

Apparently, forests spread over hundreds of hectares in Mushaharniya stream in Hadiya, Titribot of Katari, Phoolbari, Maruwa, Sishaghari, Chyanga, Bhulke, Kalikhola in Triveni, Ratnapur of Risko, among others, had been encroached upon by squatters and others migrating to the area from other districts in the fiscal year 2036/37 BS. Likewise, locals have been living in the illegal settlements spread over approximately 91 hectares of land encroached in Chaanp in Triyuga municipality, the same year. Meanwhile, 927 hectares of forest land in Rampurthoksila have been encroached, while 33 hectares of forest land have been encroached in Mainamini VDC. The total area covered by forest in the district is approximately 120,705 hectares.

“Although we have been trying our best for years, all our efforts to prevent the encroachment of forest land have been in vain,” said District Forest Officer, Kishor Chandra Gautam, adding that the primary reason behind their failure was the non-cooperation of the political parties.

While there are over 52,000 households in the district, approximately 10,000 of them are said to be located on encroached land. Meanwhile, DFO records indicate that they had been able to remove few of the settlements built on encroached land after repeated attempts. However, with the exception of those encroached forest area where the DFO removed the settlement and planted trees, all others encroached forest areas reclaimed by the government have been encroached upon again, locals said. “Although we have managed to control the encroachment in few areas, we are yet to put an end to it,” said Nar Bahadur Karki, secretary of Federation of Community Forestry Users Nepal.

 Meanwhile, the Forest Ministry has devised a strategy to prevent the encroachment and issued a directive to stamp out the rampant encroachment within five years. In accordance to the directive, a taskforce headed by Chief District Officer, district chiefs of Nepal and Armed Police Force, five representatives of political parties recommended by the District Development Committee, and District Forest Officer as the member secretary has been formed.

However, the political parties are yet to recommend the names of their representatives in the taskforce.

 

Published: 20-07-2014 08:44

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