Here is a serious reason to worry. The price of timber in the local market is going all time high. If one has to purchase timber for constructing houses, one has to pay as much as Rs 6,000 per cubic meter. Thousands of earthquake survivors have not been able to complete reconstruction of their houses because of shortage of timber in the market or because timber price is too high. And here comes the report: Logs from as many as 20,000 trees felled along the right of way (RoW) of Kathmandu Tarai Expressway are lying idle, uncollected and, worst of all, some of them are decaying. This is the example of how recklessly the authorities handle management of resources vital for housing, furniture industry and others. This is a clear case of wasting precious wood materials.
The concerned agencies are blaming each other for this neglect. Nepal Army had handed over all these logs to division forest offices (previously district forest offices) and community forest user groups. Bara Forest Division officials failed to auction the logs, which is why some of them are decaying. They say they have failed on this duty because they have not got details from Nepal Army. Again forest officials claim the delay in auctioning the timber is due to the time-consuming task of sorting out logs and compiling details. The excuse of Department of Forest is that delay in receiving costs incurred in felling the trees resulted in failure to calculate the estimated minimum price of the logs for auctioning purpose. Division Forest Office ascribes this to pending policy decision on distribution matters from Ministry of Forest and Environment. Federation of Community Forestry Users Nepal points to dispute between the province and the federal government for it. It is clear that every authority is waiting for other authority to act but no authority is actually working on it seriously. There should be no such excuse when these precious woods are rotting away. Ministry of Forest should immediately spring into action to bring these idle logs to much-needed use.
This kind of reckless handling of trees also raise the question of how the government will utilize as many as 195,000 trees that will be felled for building Nijgadh International Airport. What if the trees felled for this purpose also meet the same fate? In May this year, Minister for Forests and Environment Shakti Bahadur Basnet had told Republica about his commitment to make forests the source of employment creation. “This fiscal year we are going to announce a program to generate around 100,000 jobs from forestry sector,” he had said. “Forest sector can make visible contribution to employment generation and economy.” It is already too late to live up to that commitment. Thousands of logs lying in various places of Fast Track road are staring at our faces. We won’t be able to convert forest resources into wealth until we properly preserve those resources and make the best use of the trees.