Border disputes among local units in Karnali districts remain unresolvedResidents living near the disputed areas do not have good relations and medicinal herbs worth millions are unused.
Four local units in Mugu, a mountain district of Karnali Province, are yet to settle longstanding border disputes with neighbouring local bodies.
The villagers of the disputed areas complain that they have to bear the brunt of the local units’ failure to resolve the disputes. They say that the local governments haven’t taken concrete initiatives towards resolving the matter even after six years of its formation.
The Chhayanath Rara Municipality of Mugu and Kanaka Sundari Rural Municipality of Jumla have border disputes in Daba and Ghuchchilek areas. The former had constructed a welcome gate at Chuchchilek area in 2018. But the locals of Kanaka Sundari dismantled the infrastructure arguing that the gate was built on their land.
The locals of Pina, Mundu and Kotila in Chhayanath Rara claim that Daba and Ghuchchilek areas fall under the municipality. But the villagers of Kanaka Sundari say the disputed area above Satmod belongs to Kanaka Sundari Rural Municipality. Owing to the border dispute, locals of both local units have had problems grazing cattle, collecting grass and collecting firewood.
“We have not allowed them [locals of Kanaka Sundari] to graze their cattle in the disputed area nor we use the land,” said Bal Bahadur Shahi, a local of Kotila. According to him, the villagers of both local bodies have disputes on a personal level due to the longstanding border dispute. “The authorities concerned should solve the border-related dispute immediately,” Shahi added, hinting that the prolonged border dispute could spark violent confrontation.
As per the existing legal provisions, local units should prepare border demarcation guidelines and set up pillars to demarcate borders with the neighbouring local bodies.
In April last year, the people’s representatives of Chhayanath Rara and Kanaka Sundari, in presence of the local people, held a discussion to settle the dispute. But the discussion failed to make any headway.
Meanwhile, the border dispute between Chhayanath Rara and Chankheli Rural Municipality of Humla also remains unresolved for a long time. The villagers of Baam, Poipata, Thapalchaur of Mugu and Darma of Humla often have disputes while using the forest in the disputed areas. The locals of Darma vandalised and torched seven animal sheds built by the locals of Bam village four years ago.
According to Jun Bahadur Khadka, ward chairman of Chhayanath Rara-14, the villagers of Bam and Darma often have violent disputes over the use of forest in the disputed area. “It seems that the border dispute is not a serious issue. But the locals of two villages have serious enmity now,” said Khadka. “The use of forest and its conservation have been hugely affected due to border disputes. Both the local units do not carry out any development works in the area.”
Bishnu Kumar Bham, mayor of Chhayanath Rara Municipality, claimed that the municipality took initiatives to resolve the border disputes with other local units but the latter did not take the issue seriously. According to him, Chhayanath Rara Municipality wrote a letter to the federal Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration a few months ago, urging it to resolve the border disputes soon.
The local people living near the disputed areas do not have good relations, according to Bham. “Violent confrontation between them can erupt any time,” he said. “Medicinal herbs worth millions of rupees are left unused while we have problems in collecting tax as well.”
Similarly, Chhayanath Rara also has border disputes with Mugumkarmarong Rural Municipality over the Kampha, Lumsa and Bhattadadi areas.