Grasslands in Khaptad area sinking

Dipayal, December 6

Haphazard grazing and lack of conservation has threatened the existence of the beautiful moorlands of Khaptad region in recent years as the plains have developed cracks and begun sinking at places.

There are 52 moorlands, both big and small, in Khaptad area that lies in the buffer zone of Khaptad National Park established in 1984 after the name of a Hindu ascetic Khaptad Baba. It is spread over 225 square kilometres in Doti, Bajura, Bajhang and Achham districts.

Among the moorlands, Khaptadi Patan, Ghodauni Patan and Tribeni Patan are the largest.

“The beautiful grassy plateau has started sinking at places while cracks are surfacing all over and spoiling their beauty,” said Mohan Bam, former executive director of Khaptad Region Tourism Development Committee, adding, “We should soon come up with some concrete plan otherwise the beautiful plateau with tourism and religious value will be history.”

Besides excessive grazing, various streams crossing the grassy lands have added to the problem as the banks are eroding. “In the last five years, precipitation in the upper belt has risen which in turn is washing away the top soil of the plateau exposed due to excessive grazing,” said technicians of the national park, while forest expert Narayan Rupakheti rued the apathy of stakeholders towards conserving the plateau.

Local Devraj Khatri acknowledged the problem of overgrazing, but said they didn’t have any option. “It’s been years that locals have grazed their cattle here. We know overgrazing and climate change have put the plateau at risk, but nobody is talking about this or providing any solution,” he said, adding that thousands of cattle such as horses, buffaloes, cows, sheep, and goats, among others, were brought to the grassy lands for grazing.

Khaptad National Park Buffer Zone Development Committee member Ram Prasad Upadhyaya rued the deteriorating condition of the plateau. “The plateau is sinking, the lakes are being buried with washed-away soil and herbs are being smuggled, so it’s high time the concerned authorities became serious about saving these moorlands,” he said.