Forest encroached in JhapaAround five hectors of forestland belonging to Pragati Community Forest has been encroached in Charali, Jhapa district.
Around five hectors of forestland belonging to Pragati Community Forest has been encroached in Charali, Jhapa district.
According to the District Forest Office (DFO), various religious groups have constructed temples and monasteries in the forestland. “Out of the 150 hectors of forest, five hectors have been encroached upon,” said District Forest Officer Indramani Bhandari, adding that the DFO would take action against the guilty.
The government has planned to develop the area as a tourist destination. However, it was encroached upon on the pretext of developing it as a pilgrimage site. “No land has been set aside for constructing a pilgrimage site,” said Bhandari.
A representative of the Pragati Community Forest said that a Pathibhara temple was constructed unilaterally on the land last year arguing that some footsteps of the Devi were found in the forest.
After the construction of the temple, many other groups have started building structures in the area. There are foundations for many Buddhist monasteries and other temples. People belonging to Kirat, Newar and Rajbanshi communities have divided land to construct shrines in the forest.
Secretary of the community forest, Bikash Niraula said they have registered a complaint with the DFO to stop the encroachment.
Jhapa Chief District Officer Madan Bhujel said he had directed the DFO to take legal action against anyone found guilty. “No one has the authority to encroach on the forest land,” he said.