Bardiya District Administration Office requests locals to not enter Indian forests without due processNepalis living along the Nepal-India border have been frequenting the forest on the other side of the border for fodder for their cattle.
The District Administration Office in Bardiya has requested locals living in the bordering parts of the district to not enter Indian forest to collect fodder and firewood without coordinating with the local authorities.
The eastern part of Shantipur to western part of Rajapur (80km) in the district shares the border with India. Every day, Nepalis cross the border and bring in firewood and fodder from the Indian Bahraich district's Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary and also leave their cattle to graze.
Stating that locals (who have gone to the forest for fodder and firewood) have gone missing in the forest, the administration has requested the locals to coordinate with local authorities before crossing the border and entering the forest.
On Tuesday, four locals of Madhuban Municipality, who went to graze their goats in the forest, had gone missing for several hours. According to police, Sumitra Singh, Khantari Basnet, Dheeraj Karna and Tej Kumari KC of Madhuban Municipality Ward No. 7 were found some six kilometres away from the border.
Sumitra Singh, 42, a local of Madhuban Municipality, said she and her companions lost their way in the dense forest. “Our goats entered the forest, and we were chasing them when we lost our way,” said Singh. Locals say they are compelled to go to the Indian forest to graze their cattle and collect fodder or firewood, as there’s no forest on the Nepali side, said Singh.
However, although the administration has requested locals to coordinate with local authorities before entering the Indian forest, locals are disobeying the request. They are entering the Indian forest as per their wish. “One has to follow Indian rules and regulations when in Indian territory. That’s why we request locals to coordinate with the local authorities before crossing the border. We are neighbours but we cannot violate their rules and regulations,” said Premlal Lamichhane, Chief District Officer of Bardiya, informing that it is wise to know security situation before entering forests on the other side of the border.
More than three dozen villages of Badhaiyatal Rural Municipality, Gulariya, Madhuban and Rajapur Municipalities rely on the Indian forest for firewood and fodder. For the resources, locals have to pay in cash and kind.
According to Basnet, the villagers voluntarily provide paddy, vegetables or cash in exchange for the services they get from the Indian authorities. She said, “We have to provide 20kg paddy to the Indian authority annually for using fodder and firewood from their forest. Sometimes we also work in the forest in exchange for firewood.”
Narayan Malla, the ward chairman of Madhuban Ward No. 3, said, “Sometimes disputes occur between locals and Indian security personnel. We have received a number of complaints regarding misbehaviour towards the locals from Indian security personnel. That’s why we have requested the locals to inform the ward office before entering Indian soil.”