Deforestation unchecked in Kalinchok area of DolakhaAuthorities concerned have failed to take any strong measures to control deforestation in various community forests, locals say.
Deforestation has become a cause for concern in Kalinchok, a tourist destination of Dolakha district, in the past few years.
Locals complain that the authorities have failed to take any strong measures to control deforestation in various community forests of Kalinchok Rural Municipality.
“Timber smugglers on average have been cutting down two to three trees every day. This has been going on for the past two months,” said a local on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.
Kalinchok temple, a revered temple for Hindus and Buddhists, has gained popularity as a tourist destination in recent years. As a result of this tourism boom, various infrastructures, mainly hotels and lodges, are being constructed in the Kuri area to accommodate the increasing flow of tourists.
“People are haphazardly felling trees, as there is a good demand for timber,” said the local.
Tutuwan area in Kalinchok had also faced severe deforestation in the last few years. However, the smugglers lessened their activities in the area after strong action from the District Administration Office, local representatives and security agencies, only to shift their attention to the Kalinchok temple area.
Following repeated complaints of rampant deforestation in the Kalinchok area, the Division Forest Office in Sindhupalchok prepared a report and submitted it to the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) and the District Administration Office in Dolakha.
Devichandra Pokharel, an official at the forest office, refused to comment stating that he did not have any authority to speak on issues that the CIAA are investigating.
According to him, the forest authority has a shortage of employees to deploy to remote areas where deforestation is rampant.
With the boom in tourism, many illegal settlements have cropped up in the area resulting in a spread of illegal constructions in Kuri and Ghyangdanda, which lie in the foothills of the Kalinchok Bhagawati Temple.
According to locals, around a dozen families of animal herders used to stay in the Kalinchok area in 1992. Now, more than 100 houses and huts have been constructed in the area.
Dabal Pandey, chief of the District Coordination Committee, said the office is making efforts to check deforestation as well as the construction of illegal infrastructures in Kalinchok. He claimed that the illegal felling of trees was controlled to some extent with the joint effort of the local administration, forest office and the local people.
Officials of Gaurishankar Conservation Area have also raised concerns about deforestation and encroachment in the area since some areas of Kalinchok Rural Municipality fall under the conservation area.
“We have launched an awareness campaign to conserve the forest area. We have also taken legal action against the guilty in the past, and we will do the same in the future,” said Satya Narayan Sah, chief of the conservation area.