Encroachment of forest, public land on the rise

Bhairahawa, July 20

Encroachment of forest areas and public land has increased in Rupandehi. Most of the people involved in such encroachment get protection from political leaders of the district.

Forest areas and public lands have been encroached in constituencies 1, 2 and 5. District Forest Officer Rom Raj Lamichhane said land encroachment had increased in the name of squatters.

According to the forest office statistics, around five hectors land was encroached in the forest areas. Five-storey hotel buildings and small houses have been constructed in the encroached land. Similarly, public schools, campuses, play grounds, temples and monasteries, among others structures have been constructed in such lands.

As many as 40 houses belonging to landless people are there in the district. The political parties used the areas as their pocket areas as more than 150, 000 voters lived in the encroached lands. The leaders are assuring the local voters to register the lands rather than protecting the forest. Lamichhane said the encroachment would be stopped if everybody took the responsibility to protect the forest. “The State has to take initiation to stop the encroachment,” he said.

District-based working committee under the Chief District Officer was formed to remove the illegally built structures from the encroached land. Member Secretary Lamichhane said that the meeting of the committee could not be held even for a single time. “The committee has yet to take initiative to remove such structures,” he added.

Information Officer at District Administration Office Bishnu Gyawali said the public land and forest areas had been protected with the help of police. “No actions have been taken to land mafias,” he said. Gyawali added that DAO had already told the people to vacate the encroached land.