Forest office given the short shrift

Sankhuwasabha, Dec 30:

Forest areas registered in individuals’ names.

Head of District Land Revenue Office Khandbari Sitaram Pokharel has taken up all the land registration cases withheld by the court, forest office and land-survey office.

Issuing a public notice, Pokharel started registering pending cases in Num and Diding VDCs in the district. The land plots, including those falling in the forest area, were denied by concerned offices on different grounds.

Land revenue officer Pokharel registered land plots in the forest zones 733, 734 and 737, covering a 12,070 square kilometre area, in the name of Leela Bahadur Rai of Num-3 on December 29. The land survey office had withheld these plots in 1994 stating that they were located in a forest area. The district forest office maintains that the process to register land has been revived though some cases are under consideration in courts of law.

The land revenue office, through newspapers notices, had invited registration of land plots including those numbered 508, 560, 534, 503, 540, 557, 591, 624 of Diding VDC. However, the community forest users’ committee, district forest office, forest users’ federation, district administration office have called it illegitimate.

Twenty per cent of the 267 community forests in the district would go into individuals’ hands if the land revenue office allows registration, said Gopal Poudel, acting head of the district forest office. “The land reform office’s move will be challenged in the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority,” he added.

Earlier, it had been agreed to withhold registration of all land plots until the formation of the high-level land reforms commission. Though the decision was made by chief district officer, land survey office head and chief of the land revenue office last August, the forest land plots were registered illegitimately, said Akshaya Kumar Rajbanshi, acting head of land survey office Khandbari. The land revenue officer, by producing forged documents, began to register land, he alleged.

“The nine-member committee formed under Land Survey Act 2019 has spared the land plots in the forest zone, but the land revenue office resumed it,” the forest office alleged.

The forest department on August 6, 2007 had sent a letter to district forest office to withhold the registration of these plots of land stating that they were located in the forest zone. “The head of the land revenue office registered these land plots for personal gains,” alleged Chuda Khatiwada, ranger at the forest office.

Head of the land revenue office, Pokharel said that the plots were registered as the owners had receipts of revenue payment for years. “What difference would it make if the land were registered in their names?” he asked.