Rara National Park ignores residents of buffer zone areasThe national park has not run development activities and income-generating programmes for locals due to lack of funds.
Residents of the Rara National Park buffer zone area in Mugu say the park has not provided them with infrastructural development and skill development opportunities. According to the government’s policy, national parks should use 50 percent of their income for the development of locals living in the buffer zone areas. But the locals living in the park buffer zone are yet to receive the benefits, say locals.
Kamar Singh Khadka, a resident of Chhayanath Rara Municipality, said locals need to seek permission from park officials to perform daily chores such as grazing their cattle and collecting firewood.
“The national park has made it difficult for us to go about our lives. The park has not done anything to uplift our livelihood,” said Khadka.
There are 87 settlements in the buffer zone areas in Mugu and Jumla districts.
“The national park should generate various income-generating programmes for the people living in buffer zone areas,” said Khadka. “But the Rara National Park has not done anything to develop our village.”
For the expansion of the park, land plots of around 300 families in Karkibada, Shreenagar and Mathitum were used. But the affected families are yet to receive compensation.
The park has formed 10 units and 83 groups for income-generation and infrastructure development programmes in the buffer zone areas. But all of these units and groups are defunct for lack of funds.
Balaram Sahani, chairman at the Buffer Zone Development Committee, said the park has not received a budget from the federal government after the country went into the federal set-up.
“Locals cannot even graze their cattle in the forest area or collect firewood. The locals have neither been compensated nor given income-generating opportunities,” Sahani said.
However, according to Lal Bahadur Bhandari, the chief conservation officer at the park, the sanctuary only receives enough funds to run the office.
“We haven’t received funds to run development activities and skill-generating programmes for those living in the buffer zone areas. We propose the implementation of various programmes every year, but the central government does not pay attention to us,” Bhandari said.
This year, the national park has generated Rs 3.8 million from tourists. The park charges Rs 1,500 to foreigners from SAARC countries, Rs 3,000 from other countries and Rs 100 from domestic tourists.
“We have been using half of our income for the development of buffer zone areas, but that amount is not enough,” Bhandari said.