Families displaced during expansion of SNP await justice for over two decades

Published On: December 1, 2021 04:59 PM NPT By: Republica

MAHENDRANAGER, Dec 1: As many as 2,473 families displaced during the expansion of the Shuklaphanta National Park (SNP) in Kanchanpur district have been waiting for a permanent solution to their pressing problem - lack of legally registered houses.

Nearly two decades ago, the government displaced them while expanding the national park which was then known as Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve. They have been residing in temporary camps at Dhakka, Tarapur and Lallare Danda in the district.

Although the government rehabilitated some of the displaced families in various phases, the plight of many others has not come to the notice of the local authority. The local authority has already formed over two and half dozen commissions to address the issues but to no avail. 

The displaced ones have been piling pressure on the concerned authorities by launching various protest programs (strike, closure, hunger-strike, demonstrations and marches) at the administration offices and on the highways.

Reserve-victims District Struggle Committee Chairperson Hirasingh Bhandari lamented that although two decades have elapsed, the problems of the displaced people have not been addressed.

According to him, there were 604 families temporarily residing at Dhakka camp, 158 at Tarapur and 13 in Beldangi's Lallare Danda. 

The 29th Commission formed earlier to address the displaced people’s issues had recommended to the government to provide one kattha of land or Rs 500,000 to each such family. But the victims had disapproved of the scheme, leading the process to stall. 

"We left behind our 2-4 bigha of land (one bigha is equivalent to 6,772.63 square meters) during displacement. How could we live off the 1 kattha (338.63 square meters) of land?" questioned Bhandari. 

Likewise, National Park victim Dipendra Bohora blamed that the government was not serious about their issues. According to him, the government had distributed identity cards to the survivors. 

The other displaced ones were taking refuge in unmanaged shelters on the public land in the surrounding of other camps.

Surendra Bam, coordinator of a task force formed to resolve the displaced people’s issues, shared that the task force had already submitted a report with alternatives. "The victims should get justice and we are hopeful that justice will be served to them," said Bam.

The task force had recommended 10 kattha of land to each household or Rs 6 million each household. "We recommend that the government should provide shelter if not compensation in cash," he argued.


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