Hundreds of sal trees cut down in Chure area in the past month aloneForest officials estimate that 182 sal trees have been cut down at Baldhengadhi in Rainadevi Chhahara Rural Municipality-7, Palpa, in the last month alone.
Forest officials estimate that 182 sal trees have been cut down at Baldhengadhi in Rainadevi Chhahara Rural Municipality-7, Palpa, in the last month alone. However, locals claim that the number stands at 272.
Sal trees in the Jabune Community Forest and Chandra Aakar Community Forest are being cut down without the consent of the forest officials for purposes that remain undefined. According to the locals, the trees were cut down on the pretext of extending an electricity line through the forest area. The forest officials say this move is neither authorised not endorsed by the Division Forest Office (DFO).
Mohan Paudel, division forest officer, Palpa, said, “We don’t know why so many sal trees were felled. We weren’t even aware of it until the locals informed us.”
According to the forest office, more than 1,500 cubic feet of sal wood has been cut down and shipped away. Paudel said that they have taken action against villagers who were involved in the cutting down of trees through the District Court and District Attorney Office. Forest officials said that 35 families living inside the forest areas were found to be involved in cutting down sal trees to clear the area for the electricity line.
Prem Chaudhary, chief at the Sub Division Office in Baldhengadhi, said, “Arrest warrants have been issued against the 35 families.”
Chitra Bahadur Bagale, a local of Dhawa, claimed that the representatives of local units and provincial lawmakers induced them to cut down the trees.
“It was done under the instructions of people in authority and now it’s the villagers who are being held responsible,” Bagale said.
Forest officials said that cutting down trees to clear forest areas for the installation of electricity lines is allowed, but in this case there has been a rampant felling of sal trees. The destruction could have been minimised.
According to the Forest Act, 2049 (1993), the offender will be served a double fine equivalent to the value of trees felled down or an imprisonment of up to one year or both. However, locals believe that the DFO is not in the position to take action against the offenders due to political pressure.
Bhuban Karki, a local of Dhawa, said that people smuggle woods from the Chure area time and again.
“Even the contractors of the community forests entice locals to cut down trees on various pretexts,” Karki said.