National park settlement relocation plan in limbo

Kathmandu, September 14

Nine months on since the government came up with a plan to relocate human settlements in the Shivapuri-Nagarjuna National Park, the file relating to the matter is gathering dust at the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation.

“We had submitted preliminary report on the resettlement plan to the ministry through Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation some two months ago, but no development has taken since,” Chief Conservation Officer at SNNP Kamal Jung Kunwar told The Himalayan Times, adding, “We hope an official decision will be taken before the festive season begins.”

Kunwar said work would proceed on the project only after the ministry took a decision to relocate settlements.

Preliminary study report which was prepared by SNNP office has shown that around 700 households inside the national park area have given their consent to leave their ancient settlements demanding proper compensation.

Information Officer at the MoFSC Yajna Dahal said the ministry would soon take a decision on the matter as it had just got its minister. “As the ministry has got a minister, all the pending work will be settled very soon,” he said.

If everything goes as planned, 700 households in four villages — Mulkharka, Chilaune, Okhreni and Kune — of the national park’s core area will be relocated to Gokarneshwor Municipality-1.

Earlier in March this year, a task force headed by the national park’s chief warden had prepared a preliminary report following a field observation and discussion with the locals.

After receiving the letter from the Department of National Park and Wildlife Conservation, Shivapuri-Nagarjuna National Park had held first consultation meeting with the locals on March 7.

Locals have demanded compensation and land for building new houses.

Chairman of Sundarijal-Shivapuri Buffer Zone User Committee Narayan Shrestha said they were ready to moved from the park area if the government relocated them by fulfilling their demands.

Shivapuri-Nagarjuna National Park was established in 2002. The park is demarcated by stone and brick walls. SNNP has two islands of forests — Shivapuri and Nagarjuna.