350 ha forest land grabbed in BardiyaPeople have established a settlement encroaching on the land belonging to the Khurkhure community forest at Magaragadhi in Bardiya.
People have established a settlement encroaching on the land belonging to the Khurkhure community forest at Magaragadhi in Bardiya.
Around 350 hectares of the forest land has been encroached upon in the district in the name of landless people and freed Kamaiyas (former bonded-labourers).
District Forest Officer Bhairav Ghimire said people hailing from Surkhet, Jajarkot, Dailekh, Achham and Salyan, including other districts, established the settlement inside the forest nine years ago. He added that the squatters have grabbed 56 hectares of the forest area.
The forest users said they cannot clear the forest area as the encroachers are backed by the political parties. The squatters argue that they started living there 10 years ago as they had nowhere else to shelter themselves.
A majority of the people in the settlement are Dalits. Chairman of the Khurkhure community forest, Ramsharan Tharu agreed that they cannot evict the squatters as they have political protection. The settlers said they would not leave the place unless the government provided them with proper shelters.
According to the District Forest Office, around 350 hectares of forest has been encroached upon in the district. Landless squatter Ratna Bahadur Nepali said they will protest against the government if the authorities clear the area. Hariram Tharu, a forest user, expressed his concern that the forest cover could deplete given the rate of destruction of the natural resource.
People of nearby settlements said the settlers are not destitute. DFO Ghimire shared about their plans to recover the forest land soon.