1,309.4 hectares of forest land encroached in Sunsari

Published On: May 11, 2019 08:16 AM NPT By: Amar Khadka

ITAHARI, May 11: A decision taken by the government has increased the risk of encroachment of forest land in Sunsari. 

As the responsible authority is paying no heed toward controlling the rampant encroachment of the forest area, land brokers are having a field day. 

Many locals of Mahendranagar, Prakashpur and Barahakshetra of Barahakshetra Municipality were provided with temporary shelter in forest area after they were displaced by the Saptakoshi river flooding several decades ago.

These days displaced victims have started demanding land ownership certificates for the lands where they are living and relief. Those who were displaced by the flood originated from Saptakoshi in between 1965 to 1988 have completely occupied the forest land. They have already built houses on the forest land.

Achyut Prasad Dahal, chief administrative officer of the municipality informed Republica that they don't have details on how many people have encroached upon how much forest land. Five years ago, a group had attempted to transfer a huge chunk of land belonging to Hansposa Community Forest of Itahari Sub-Metropolitan City to private ownership. After it was revealed that a group was trying to grab 36 bigha land used by Herb Production and Processing Center in Hansposa and 15 bigha land of Hansposa community forests, authorities foiled the attempt. 

Out of total the total 24,865.5 hectares of forest area in Sunsari, 3,514.6 hectares belong to community forest. As per the details provided by the District Forest Office (DFO), Sunsari on Wednesday, 1,309.4 hectares of the forest area of the district has encroached between 1956 to 1999. But the office does not have information in recent encroachments. According to the DFO, most of the encroached land belongs to the Barahatal Forest. Around 1,093.8 hectares of Barahatal forest has been encroached followed by Dharan Metropolitan City's 74.14 hectares.

A meeting was held on Wednesday to discuss why the Home Ministry could not evict the people from the encroached forests. Stakeholders present at the meeting stated that it was because the Land Survey Office in Sunsari does not know how much land has been encroached. Speaking at the meeting, Chief District Officer (CDO) Prem Prakash Upreti stressed the need for collecting details of encroached land.

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