Thursday, November 29, 2007

Kailali jungles face encroachment

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, November 28 [2007]:

Encroachment is going unabated in the jungles along the Basanta corridor in Kailali, thanks
to poor implementation of law and order and support from some political quarters, said a forest official today. This corridor links Bardiya Wildlife Reserve with Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve.
In the past six months, 3,000 households have occupied land in 30 places in the Basanta area alone, Man Bahadur Swar, district forest officer of Kailali, told this daily today.
“Out of 47,000 hectares of jungle area here, at least 2,100 hectares have been encroached upon recently. If the encroachment goes on at this rate, there will be no forest at all in Kailali district in 10 years,” he said. The Kailali DFO recently carried out a survey in the area.
With 2.08 lakh hectares of jungle, Kailali is one of the most densely-forested districts. In 2001, the government and local communities removed the encroachers, who had occupied some 5,000 hectares of land.
The district can collect revenue equivalent to Rs one billion per year if the encroachment is brought to a halt, according to Swar.
He said the jungle always suffers due to unstable political situation because neither the governments nor the leaders give priority to conservation.
“Some organisations and some political parties are supporting the landless people and the freed Kamaiyas. The intention could be praiseworthy, but it is inviting fake squatters to destroy the jungles,” he said.
Santosh Nepal, field coordinator of the Tarai Arc Landscape Programme, said: “The encroachment in the area is so rampant that the whole patch of jungle is now ‘decorated’ with plastic sheets donated by NGOs”. “Why they were given land may not be our concern. But why were they given forest land? This is going to create problems,” he said.
[ KATHMANDU, NOVEMBER 29, 2007, Mangsir 13, 2064 ]