Chitwan, February 10
Thanks to government apathy and political protection that encroachers enjoy, the forest area in Chitwan is shrinking rapidly.
With government bodies rewarding the culprits, who have built concrete buildings on encroached property with basic state facilities instead of helping the concerned forest bodies to reclaim the land belonging to the forest, the prospects of the lands being vacated has become next to impossible.
According to District Forest Office Chitwan Chief Ganesh Raya, religious and cultural monuments, temples, community buildings, college buildings, among other facilities are occupying the forest land in an unauthorised way.
“There are people including those who out of greed have encroached forest property and those who were victims of different natural disasters and were displaced from their villages.
But, apart from them, there are also those profit-oriented and religious and cultural organisations that have appropriated forest land,” said Raya, adding, “Let alone other establishments, there are police posts, army barracks, primary health centres, roads, electric poles and the likes in the encroached forest areas.”
“It’s not that we’ve never thought of vacating the encroached forest land but our job has become really difficult given the lack of cooperation from local political leaders and even government bodies,” Raya said, adding, “How can we clear the encroached area when government offices like the drinking water, electricity and road, have granted them every state facility such as electricity, road and drinking water instead of charging them for the illegal act?”
Meanwhile, district forest office of Chitwan has started collecting data of forest encroachment in the district by using GPS technology. It is said the drive will take a month to complete.
“Once the report of the data collected comes, we’ll discuss the issue (forest encroachment) with the concerned taskforce and then launch a ‘vacate encroached land’ drive in line with the recommendation of the taskforce,” said Raya, hoping that once the drive is launched, it will also help curb the ongoing encroachment.
Of the total 218,000 hectare land in the district, forest occupies 128,500 hectare.
While the district forest office has jurisdiction over 45,000 hectare forest land, the rest of the area falls under the authority of Chitwan National Park.
Rhino found dead
CHITWAN: A male rhino was found dead at Kachhuwani Post of Chitwan National Park on Wednesday.
Chief of the park Ramchandra Kandel said the dead rhino was stuck in quicksand. He said the post-mortem report showed that the rhino had been buried .
Sources at the park said that as many as 10 rhinos had died last year.
A version of this article appears in print on February 11, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.