Dhangadi, April 22
The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority has initiated investigation into illegal felling of trees in over a dozen community forests in the Chure hills.
While the CIAA Mahendranagar office has started investigation in seven community forests, in the case of two other community forests, the locals have demanded that investigation be launched by assigning investigation officers.
“Of the two community forests, investigation has started in one after an investigation officer was assigned,” said Dal Bahadur Eir, Officer at the CIAA Mahendranagar Forest Investigation Department.
According to Eir, his office is now investigating around 90 forest-related complaints filed from Kailali district alone.
The corruption watchdog has thus swung into action as felling of trees illegally in community forests in the Chure range increased after people’s representatives of the local level assumed office.
“We’re investigating the role of people’s representatives, as well as community forest officials, in relation to this scam,” said CIAA sources.
Though the Far-west Province has also formed a separate probe committee and mobilised it to study the cases, the committee hasn’t submitted its report so far.
“The ministry had formed a three-member committee led by Mahendra Wagle, director at the Forest Directorate. Though the committee should have submitted its report by now, it hasn’t,” said Industry, Tourism, Forest and Environment Ministry Spokesperson Yagyamurti Khanal.
District Forest Division Office of Kailali informed that most of the trees in the Chure were cut down in the name of road construction. He added that it was important to note that trees have been cut down without seeking permission from the authority concerned and without conducting the mandatory environment impact assessment. In a few cases, trees in some community forests were felled to make way for electricity transmission line.
Division Forest Office Kailali Chief Amar Bulan hoped the investigation would bring out the results soon.
A version of this article appears in print on April 23, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.