National park authority has repossessed religious forest from Osho TapobanThe decision to repossess the religious forest came less than 24 hours after the Post carried the report about retreats centre’s illegal construction in the buffer zone.
The Shivapuri-Nagarjun National Park authority has reclaimed the forest area leased to Osho Tapoban, the international commune and forest retreat named after spiritual guru Rajneesh Osho, after the organisation was found to be flouting conservation laws by building additional infrastructure in the buffer zone.
The national park authority handed over the official withdrawal letter to the retreat management on Wednesday evening, snatching away the 37-ropani area for which permission was granted 13 years ago. Going against the prevailing law, which bars felling of trees in the conservation area, a road, a bridge and a guard house were constructed within the Tapoban premises by clearing vegetation.
The structures were built by the Department of Roads (DoR) at the request of the Tapoban, which has been registered as a non-government organisation.
The decision to repossess the area came less than 24 hours after the Post carried a report about the meditation centre’s illegal construction in the buffer zone.
The national park also directed the DoR to demolish the structures, which were built entirely with government resources worth over Rs10 million. After discovering the illegal construction, the national park administration demanded clarifications in April separately from the Tapoban management and the Road Department.
Since the clarification wasn’t satisfactory, the forest land was reclaimed from Tapoban, Kamal Jung Kunwar, chief conservation officer at the national park, told the Post. “The area has come under our possession from today.”
The decision was based on the Buffer Zone Management Regulations-1996, which authorises the respective national park to take back “religious forest” if the institutions managing it don’t comply with the terms and conditions.
Following the repossession of land, Tapoban, which sells meditation service to national and international clients, will be confined to around 22 ropanis privately owned by the group. The government handed the forest land to the retreat in 2005 for 10 years.
According to park officials, the repossessed area will be handed over to Mudku Srijanshil Upabhokta Samiti as a community forest.
The Post made several attempts to reach the Tapoban management for comments but representatives for the group declined to respond. A senior official at the department said they were yet to receive the letter from the national park.
“Let us first get the letter,” said Mukti Gautam, spokesperson for the department. “Then we can tell you about our future move.”