Encroachers usurp over 1,400 sq km forest land in KailaliMore than 1,400 square kilometres of forest land in Kailali district have been encroached upon in the last six decades, according to forest officials.
More than 1,400 square kilometres of forest land in Kailali district have been encroached upon in the last six decades, according to forest officials.
“Forests in Kailali see more encroachment than any other districts,” said Bijaya Shrestha, a conservationist. “The forest lands of Tarai and Chure areas will be completely deforested if the haphazard destruction of forest resources continues.”
According to forest officials, the encroachment takes place mainly in the name of providing land to landless people, flood victims, freed Kamaiyas (former bonded-labourers) and freed Haliya (former bonded agricultural labourers).
One of the rangers of the forest office said the encroachers are backed by political parties.
“The political leaders support the encroachers when forest officials start taking action against the encroachers,” he said, preferring anonymity.
Bhuwan BK, also a ranger, claims he and three other forest officials were attacked by timber smugglers a few months ago when they tried to take action against them.
“We somehow fled the scene,” said BK.
Of the total 328,552 hectares of land in Kailali, around 205,939 hectares are covered by forest. According to government data, more than 21,000 hectares of forestland have already been encroached by people. “The forestlands are dense with human settlements,” said Raj Bahadur Ayer, a conservationist.
Forestland encroachment is particularly rampant in areas around Basanta bazaar, Attariya-Dadeldhura Highway and Chure. The forestland at Takhate, Belpani, Patyani, Simalgaira, Trishuldanda, Damdare and Salenagada in Chure areas have been completely encroached upon, Ayer added.
Forest Minister Maya Bhatta of Province 7 said the provincial government will soon take strong actions to stop forest encroachment.
“We are going to prepare the forest policy immediately,” Bhatta said.