Eight joint secys in race for DoF DG

Kathmandu, July 20

With the retirement of Gauri Shankar Timila, the post of director general of the Department of Forest has fallen vacant from today, and eight joint secretaries have begun lobbying parties and the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation for the position.

A source at the forest department said Joint Secretary at Ministry of Population and Environment Ram Prasad Lamsal, DG of Department of Plant Resources Raj Dev Yadav, Joint Secretary at Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation Bijay Raj Paudyal, and Regional Director at Eastern Regional Forest Directorate Man Bahadur Khadka are the major candidates for the post.

Lamsal is said to have close ties with all major parties, Yadav has close ties with the CPN-UML, Paudyal has close ties with the CPN-UML and the CPN-Maoist, and Khadka has close ties with the CPN-MC. “Lamsal appears to be the strongest candidate, because he has support from almost all the major parties,” an official at the Department of Forest told The Himalayan Times, “But his negative image in the forestry sector could harm his chances and the position may go to Paudyal or Khadka.”

The source said that Paudyal was the next strongest candidate with strong professional track record, whereas Khadka has adequate qualities to bring about reforms in the forestry sector. “Although Khadka has not publicly or declared his candidacy as of yet, a large number of foresters are in his favour,” the source added.

Incumbent Director General of Plant Resource Department Raj Dev Yadav has also gathered strong support for the post. He is retiring from his current position in six months.

Four other joint secretaries, Chief of REDD Forestry and Climate Change Cell Prakash Nath Pyakurel, Regional Director of Mid Regional Forest Directorate Akhileshwor Lal Karna, Joint Secretary at Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation Pem Narayan Kandel, and deputy DG at Department of Forest Ganesh Jha are also eyeing the post.

Pyakurel has close ties with the Nepali Congress, and has just two weeks to retire from his current post. Karna, who has close ties with the CPN-UML, has also not declared his candidacy, but has strong support of many foresters.

Similarly, Kandel has not yet openly announced his candidacy. Jha is said to have announced his candidacy in the last hour after starting to serve as Acting DG at the department.

Foresters have said they are willing to accept any professional and qualified person as their head. “We have no problem with whoever gets appointed as long as the person is qualified,” Chief of Democratic Forester Association Nepal Damodar Sharma said, adding, “The foresters want a DG who has a plan and a vision to stop timber import from abroad and make timber produced in the country easily available.”

Joint Secretary Bijay Raj Paudyal claimed that he is the best candidate as everyone else had less than a year to get retirement.