Nepal | June 20, 2019

New bill calls for armed forest guards

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, May 10

The Forest Bill registered at the Parliament Secretariat has made a provision for armed forest guards to prevent wildlife poaching, smuggling of forest products and to safeguard forest resources.

Section 46 of the bill states that there shall be a separate service group of armed forest guards. “Organisational structure and number of posts in the service group of armed forest guards shall be as prescribed by the Government of Nepal,” it states.

The bill also calls for two categories of punishment — general and special — for the guards committing any act deemed an offence under this bill. General punishment includes reprimanding, denying certificate of good conduct, withholding salary increment for five years and suspending promotion for five years.

Under the special punishment, the government may dismiss an offender from the service with or without disqualifying him/ her for holding a government post in future.

Section 48 of the bill empowers the court to slap any forest guard with life imprisonment if s/he is found involved in an armed rebellion; poses a threat to the sovereignty, territorial integrity and nationality; commits any act to spread hatred among various tribes, religions and sects; sells or provides arms and ammunition to any person or group; helps terrorist activities directly or indirectly or leaks confidential security intelligence.

Any person who breaks or disobeys the chain of command and colludes with smugglers shall be liable to an imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, depending on the gravity of the offence. The bill also has a provision of a forest development fund for activities related to protection and promotion of forests.

The fund shall receive money from the federal, provincial and local governments, any person or institution and foreign governments or international organisations. The amount so collected shall be credited to a separate account opened in an ‘A’ class commercial bank.

The bill registered at the Parliament Secretariat prohibits any person from deforestation, cultivation, constructing house or hut in a forest area, setting fire, stealing or smuggling forest products, cutting trees or plants, extracting rosin or bark, extracting boulders, pebbles, sand or soil, damaging or stealing pillars and wire fences of a forest and poaching wildlife.

It has stipulated separate provisions for a national forest, a leasehold forest, a private forest, a religious forest, a government-managed forest, a community forest and a collaborative forest.

A version of this article appears in print on May 11, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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