Who could have imagined that a small mistake made 25 years ago would have its effect now? Dharan municipality is presently going through a hard time making best of its efforts to resolve the problem arising as a result of a mistake made by the then local administration 25 years ago.

In 1976, the local administration evacuated settlements around the Surda and Khurda rivers area located in between northern Dharan and Bhedetar Village Development Committee (VDC) declaring the area a watershed area. The step taken for long-term preservation of the ‘watershed’ area in Dharan was widely acclaimed then.

The 200 families displaced thereafter were rehabilitated to another place. But the administration did not bother to register ownership over the evacuated area, as a result of which the same people have come back to the place and begun selling the land.

Manoj Kumar Meyangbo, mayor of Dharan municipality says, "Supply of Drinking water is a major problem of Dharan and resettlement in the watershed area could not only deepen the problem but could have a direct effect on the health of the people in Dharan. This will also encourage in carrying out illegal occupation in other parts of the town as well."

Tika Katwal, a resident of Panchkanya VDC recalls that the 200 families evacuated from the area had been rehabilitated in Bayarban VDC of Morang.

Vice-chairman of Bhedetar VDC, Jagat Rai, who is also presently busy taking the measurement of his ancestral land in the region, argues that they had been cheated by the local administration in the name of rehabilitation.

He also accuses the then local administrators of trying to register the evacuated land in their names.

Mayor Meyangbo, however, denies the accusation levelled by vice-chairman Rai stating that the municipality has enough evidence to prove that those rehabilitated were provided replacement land in a just manner.

Bansi Moktan, vice-chairman of Sunsari District Development Committee (DDC) said it is illegal to live in the watershed area.

He also recalls that the rehabilitation works were carried out at the initiative of his late father Govinda Bahadur Moktan who was the then ‘Pradhanpancha’ of Dharan.

People have begun occupying the area and are challenging the local administration to fight in order to save their ‘ancestral land’.

Mayor Meyangbo says the municipality has summoned for assistance from the ‘top level’ in order to stop the buying and selling of the land. The government should give serious attention towards resolving the problem which is associated with the future of Dharan.