Khanal, Chure board quit over differences with ministerMembers of the Rastrapati Chure-Tarai Madhes Conser-vation Development Board have resigned en masse, citing differences with Forest Minister Agni Sapkota.
Members of the Rastrapati Chure-Tarai Madhes Conser-vation Development Board have resigned en masse, citing differences with Forest Minister Agni Sapkota.
Committee Chairperson Rameshore Khanal, along with four board members Bijaya Kumar Singh, Nagendra Yadav, Phurba Tamang and Sunita Singh Thakuri, tendered their resignations on Thursday.
Sources close to Khanal said that the decision to resign was taken after Minister Sapkota expressed dissatisfaction at Khanal’s working style and told him that he would not cooperate in implementing the programmes and activities for the Chure region.
Khanal called on Sapkota to request him to be a chief guest of an interaction to discuss annual programmes along with the draft on master plan for Chure. But a heated argument between the two followed, with the minister accusing Khanal of non-cooperation.
However, a source at the ministry said that Khanal was ignoring the minister while implementing programmes in Chure. The committee is governed by the Forest Ministry.
The importance of Chure for overall Tarai for its rich biodiversity has drawn attention in the conservation sector for long.
However, Chure as a region received great attention after the government initiated the Rastrapati Chure Conservation Programme in 2009, under the patronage of the former President Ram Baran Yadav. However after four years and spending over a billion rupees, the plunder of the Chure hills continued unabated, leading to the formation of a high-level committee to solely look over Chure in 2014.
In June 2014, the government decided to form the a high-level Chure Conservation Committee and declared the Chure region, stretching from Mechi in the East to Mahakali in the West as an “Environment Conservation Area” to protect the country’s vulnerable ecological zone from deforestation and degradation.
The declaration of Chure, covering around 13 percent of the total area that spans across 33 districts, as an environmental conservation area did not bore a positive reaction from one of the key stakeholders in forest conservation, Federation of Community Forests Users’ Nepal (Fecofun). The community forestry groups, along with parliamentarians from the region, have been demanding that both the committee and conservation area be disbanded, claiming that it has curtailed the rights of the local communities on their forest resources.
“The formation of the committee to look over Chure that has been managed and protected by the local communities long before it was declared a conservation zone devalued the contribution of the locals in protecting their own forests and sharing the benefits,” said Ghanshyam Pandey, coordinator of the Global Alliance of Community Forestry and former president of Fecofun. “Chure can be managed only by engaging local communities and local authorities as primary managers rather than through some committee,” he added.
Since its formation one and half years ago, the committee has held various activities ranging from preparations of an integrated master-plan for the Chure region to river control and management, livelihood empowerment of the local communities and disaster preparedness, among
Around Rs1.12 billion was spent for the region in the last fiscal year and the government has allocated Rs2 billion for this fiscal year.