CIAA starts investigation in Majhuwagadhi Forest deforestation caseTwo years ago, more than 400 trees were cut down to open a road from Kalika Bhagwati Temple to the Majhuwagadhi area.
The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority has started an investigation into a deforestation case at Majhuwagadhi Forest in Diktel Rupakot Majhuwagadhi Municipality, Khotang.
Two years ago, more than 400 trees were cut down to open a road from the Kalika Bhagwati temple to Majhuwagadhi area. According to Chief District Officer Bishnuhari Upadhyay, the corruption watchdog has started an investigation into the illegal act in Majhuwagadhi. The area falls under Devisthan Community Forest. “We have already sent a report to the centre about the felling of trees as directed by the CIAA,” said Upadhyay.
Ambika Prasad Paudel, chief at the Division Forest Office in Khotang, said that a team led by the assistant forest officer, Ashok Parajuli, prepared a report about the destruction and sent it to the CIAA for further investigation.
Locals said that trees were cut down on the pretext of opening the road. Rajendra Rai, a local man, said that an excavator was used to open the road section. Rai said, “Even the constables of Halesi Battalion of the Armed Police Force were involved in the incident.”
According to Paudel, they have asked the municipal office about the frequent use of excavators in the forest but the municipal officials did not provide the exact details. Paudel said, “The forest consumers committee’ also delayed the submission of details.”
Mayor Dip Narayan Rijal admitted that the trees had been felled on the pretext of opening the road. He did not make further comments on his alleged involvement in the act. Rijal said, “We will help the CIAA in its investigation.”
The Division Forest Office had started investigations soon after the trees were cut. Then-forest officer Bhakta Lama had also prepared a report mentioning that around 400 trees were cut down. Back then, the concerned authority did not take action citing reasons such as the guilty party’s political connections. However, locals have been demanding action against the people involved in the incident.