Kailali losing its forest cover to encroachment
Jul 3, 2019-
Every year, around a hundred hectares of forestland in Kailali district is encroached upon in the name of flood victims during monsoon, conservationists and forest officials say.
Forest officials said that the forest cover in Kailali has been decreasing due to illegal settlements built by flood-displaced families. According to them, the encroachment takes place mainly when flood-affected families move into the forest area during monsoon.
“It is very difficult to conserve forestland until the concerned authority comes up with a solution to provide shelter to the flood victims,” Ganga Chaudhary, a conservationist, said.
According to Chaudhary, floods displace at least 100 families in Kailali every year, forcing them to take refuge in the forest area.
Another conservationist Bijayarak Shrestha said, “In the past, encroachment took place in the name of providing land to landless people, including freed Kamaiyas (former bonded-labourers) and freed Haliya (former bonded agricultural labourers). But today, encroachment is rampant in the name of protecting flood victims.”
Shrestha said authorities should not let flood victims settle in forestlands during monsoon, and that it should make provisions to relocate the flood victims to other areas.
Forestland encroachment is particularly rampant in areas around Basanta Bazaar, Attariya-Dadeldhura Highway and the Chure range. According to forest officials, they cannot evacuate the illegal settlers from the forestland, as they are protected by local political leaders.
Of the total 328,552 hectares of land in Kailali, around 205,939 hectares are covered by forest. According to the data of the Division Forest Office (DFO) in Kailali, more than 30,000 hectares of forestland have been lost to encroachment.
Ram Chandra Kandel, the Division Forest Officer, said it is difficult to stop flood victims from entering the forest area during floods and landslides.
Once the displaced families move to forest areas, they refuse to vacate the area even after the disaster threat is over, Kandel added.
“We are discussing with the stakeholders including the District Natural Disaster Rescue Committee to find ways to stop forest encroachment during monsoon. We have urged the committee not to relocate flood victims near forest areas and to help them find shelter elsewhere.”
Published: 04-07-2019 06:30