Campaign to evict Banke flood victims intensifies

- THAKUR SINGH THARU, Banke

Dec 14, 2014-

Giving continuity to the districtwide campaign that was initiated on Friday to raze illegal structures built encroaching upon lands belonging to the community forests, the local administration has pulled down altogether 115 illegal structures in Mandwa and Ram Janaki Community Forests across Rapti river on Sunday.

The administration with the help of the Armed Police Force, Nepal Police and Armed Forest Security Personnel had razed around 150 structures in Siddheswor, Bhagwati and Kusumiya Community Forest on Friday, an act which took a serious toll on the flood-displaced. According to the District Forest Office (DFO), Banke, about 1,123 illegal structures were built encroaching 122 hectares of forest land in 10 community forests across Rapti river by individuals posing as flood victims.

The genuine flood victims displaced from Sarra, Phattepur and Sarrigaun VDCs, who were taking shelter in Bhagwati Community Forest, have started heading back to their respective villages following the campaign that was initiated after complaints of rise in encroachments of forest lands in the area by individuals posing as flood victims.

Meanwhile, Jaya Mangal Prasad, chief of District Forest Office (DFO) claimed that some encroachers had extended their help to the campaign by tearing down their illegal structures themselves.

“We found that they had become aware of the negative effects their haphazard settlement were having on the forest,” Prasad said, claiming that they had razed the structures only after the residents had relocated to their respective houses.

While Prasad claimed that the drive to conserve the forests in the district will not be stopped by either rain or chilly winter cold, the flood displaced have been accusing the government of victimising them without any fault of their. The drive has taken a serious toll on genuine flood victims, leaving them with nothing to ward off the harsh winters.

Meanwhile, the administration has also taken the initiative to free about four hectares of public land in Ganapur-6 encroached in the name of landless and squatters. The government is preparing to use the land for the construction of an “open prison”. Stating that they had issued a three-day notice to the landless squatters to evict the area, non-gazetted first class officer Ram Prasad Sonkhar of District Administration Office said that they will resort to the use of force if the settlers fail to comply with the directive.

However, the 31 households in the area have taken a stance against plans to evict them, stating that they would not relocate from the area until the government makes necessary arrangements to rehabilitate them. The households living in the area since the past 10 years have already submitted applications with the Landless Squatter Problem Resolution Commission numerous times in the past in order to get the land registered under their names.

Published: 15-12-2014 09:22

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