Jhapa, January 27
Ratuwamai Tree Plantation Project, which has extended from Ratuwakhola to Kankaimai River, is facing rampant encroachment of late.
The land of the project has been encroached upon by individuals and institutions, according to project chief Khem Bishwokarma. He said a total of 203 hectares of 2,753 hectares of the project’s area has been encroached upon. “More than the individuals, institutional encroachment is increasing alarmingly. A total of 24.62 hectares land is occupied by individuals, while 90 hectares is encroached upon by various organisations,” said Bishwokarma.
“Though 113 hectares of encroached land has been handed over to those organisations after fulfilling necessary procedures, we are yet to manage 90 hectares land,” he said. Then village development committee, Federation of Ethnic Nationality, Community Forest Consumers’ Group, Drinking Water Consumers’ Committee among others have been accused of encroaching on the forest land at Dudhe area. The project land has also been encroached upon by religious sites, play grounds and graveyard in Satakshidham and Jhiljhile areas.
District forest office at Barhakothe, area police office at Dudhe, temple at Jhiljhile, Maikhola irrigation at Kitatchowk, drinking water office at Lakhanpur, picnic spot at Jhiljhile, among others, have been found to have encroached the forest land. There are as many as 21 playgrounds in the project area.
A total of 26 hectares has been encroached upon by randomly built graveyards at Kirantchowk, Milanchowk, Dudhe, Jhiljhile, Sano Kerakha Bazaar and Lakhanpur, among other places. Of 24.62 hectares land encroached upon by individuals, flood victims have built their shelters in 7.87 hectares of forest land at Tukre.
The land has been handed over to various organisations including armed police force, Ganeshman National Academy, Ratuwamai Tree Plantation project at Jhiljhile and Kerala area following due procedures. The project said the land area occupied by the government and non-government organisations also would be handed over to them after completing due process.
The project, which was extended from Ratuwa to Mai area during the reign of late king Mahendra, has not only been facing the problem of encroachment but also open grazing and smuggling. However, the project is hopeful about proper management of the encroached land as they had prepared a 10-year detailed work plan.
A version of this article appears in print on January 28, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.