The community forest at ward no 1 and 3 of Bardibas municipality in the district have witnessed increasing encroachment. Five hectares of the Newaredanda Kamidanda community forest expanded in 58.3 hectares of land has been encroached in recent years, said the Division Forest Office.
Division chief Hemanta Prasad Shah informed that as many as 100 persons were involved in encroaching upon the forest area for two years. The forest area is surveyed in a gap of three year. Currently, the survey is being conducted in the presence of Secretary at Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Environment of State 2, Prem Narayan Kandel. In the encroached land, construction of concrete houses is thriving. Those occupying forest area are setting boundary with wire and plots.
The Division office has decided to take together the local levels, security agencies and the federal and State level bodies to retrieve the encroached forest lands, Shah added.
Meanwhile, the people occupying the land have argued that they were living there not by felling trees but by retaining the land their ancestors cultivated.
In addition to this, the forest area under the Sagarnath Forest Development Project has been facing encroachment and deforestation of late. Wildfire is another threat to the forest. "It is worrying that wildfire destroy our forest in the Spring season, the time trees get new buds," said Min Rahapal, resident at Belgachhi of Gaushala municipality-8, showing the smouldering tree trunks. Felling trees illegally is also rife in this season, he added.
Ward no 5 chairman of Bardibas municipality, Dal Bahadur Thapa, also admitted that the encroachment of Sagarnath forest was continuous for 30 years.
The locals worried why the wildfire was not controlled. Laxmi Prasad Mahato from Laxminiya of Gaushala municipality blamed the forest office for such ignorance and apathy.
Source: National News Agency Nepal