Deforestation under political protection

JAJARKOT: The surrounding areas of Khalanga, the district headquarters of Jajarkot, which were once covered by forests, are now occupied by human settlements. The forests in the areas are being cleared under political protection. The deforestation was rampant after the handing over of the forests to the local communities, though.

More than five hundred houses have been built after clearing the community forest areas of Ranagaun, Shantichoutara, Thantibazaar, Gairikhali, Mathillo Thaple and Tallo Thaple but the local administration remains a mere spectator.

The encroachers have not only encroached upon the forests area but have also occupied land owned by government offices.

Tej Bikram Shah, civil society activist, said, plots of land owned by the District Health Office, the District Court, the District Attorney's Office and the National Intelligence Office have been encroached upon.

Shiva Prasad Sharma, chairman, Khirkhire Community Forest, said that despite their continuous efforts, authorities in the district had paid no heed. District Forest Office, however, admitted that they have failed to

control the encroachment upon forest areas as the political parties protect the

encroachers.

District Forest Officer Jiya Prasad Yadav said though the houses built by encroachers in Tallo Thaple were pulled down earlier, the houses were rebuilt under political protection.

Hom Bahadur Shah, a local teacher, said that not only the poor but also the rich in the area had encroached upon forest areas.

The leaders of the political parties also admit that despite holding so many meetings to find a solution to the deforestation problem, no decisions to that effect have been implemented.