Mining in forest near CNP destroys wildlife habitat

- BHUSAN YADAV, CHITWAN

Apr 23, 2015-

Rampant extraction of sand, stones and gravels from rivers in Sadabahar Community Forest, which shares its border with Chitwan National Park (CNP), has remained unchecked in Chitwan district owing to utter apathy of the government and concerned agencies.

What the haphazard extraction of the construction materials has done is pose a serious risk to the environment and wildlife habitats and adversely affect the area’s tourism prospects.

The local authorities keep turning a blind eye to dozens of tractors that keep trickling in and out of the community forest the entire day for haphazard extraction of construction materials and smuggle them for commercial purposes.   Each tractor makes at least six round trips a day, it is learnt.

As large holes have been dug out using excavators in the grassy fields of the buffer zone for extraction of stones and gravels, wildlife and birds that had found their refuge here have started to move elsewhere. The extraction and mining of sand and stones has posed a serious threat to the environment and wildlife habitats in CNP, hence directly affecting the district’s tourism sector and revenue collection due to the decrease in wildlife sightings.

Likewise, a portion of the motor track constructed for jungle safaris in CNP has also been damaged by the heavy tractors transporting large amount of sand, stones and gravels all day.

Locals complain that owing to the constant noise and pollution caused by the ongoing illegal extraction and smuggling, birds, rhinos,

crocodiles, including many other wildlife species, have started moving deeper into the forest seeking suitable habitat.

Manesh Limbu, a nature guide employed by the community forest, said that

apart from destroying the habitat of wild animals and forcing them to change their behaviour and living patterns, the ongoing haphazard excavation has also affected their reproductive process of the wild animals.

“The concerned authorities have not shown the willingness and commitment required to safeguard the interest of the wild animals,” Limbu lamented, adding that action was to yet be taken on his complaint regarding illegal mining at the CNP office in Kasara.

However, chief conservation officer Kamal Jung Kunwar at the CNP said that they had given the permission to extract sand, stones and gravels from the community forest under the policy that allows locals to excavate the same for household purposes.

He added that the materials were meant for the use of local stakeholders for construction of their houses, and that the extraction of the sand, pebbles and stones have not been done for commercial purposes Meanwhile, Shyam Adhikari, chairperson of Meghauli Buffer Zone Community Forest, admitted of irregularities and

discrepancies in the excavation process.

“After receiving frequent complaints, we are planning to formulate a separate policy on the issue after consulting with local stakeholders,” Adhikari said.

Published: 24-04-2015 10:12

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