Wood from 20,000 trees felled for Fast Track rotting away

Published On: October 2, 2018 06:28 AM NPT By: Rudra Pangeni  | @rudrapang

KATHMANDU, Oct 2: There is an acute shortage of timber in the market, especially in view of the earthquake reconstruction work, but the logs collected from tree felling along the right of way (RoW) for the Kathmandu Tarai Expressway (also known as Fast Track) are decaying at various sites. The agencies responsible for the sale and supply of the timber have differing stories to tell.

The Nepal Army handed over all the logs from the 20,000 trees felled along RoW to division forest offices (previously district forest offices) concerned and community forest user groups. The nine-kilometer RoW stretch is in Bara, and the logs include both hardwoods and softwood species, the latter used in making furniture.

Softwood is vulnerable to decay, according government officials and the forest user groups.

Meanwhile, Bara Forest Division officials informed that they have failed to auction the logs because they have yet to get detailed information on the logs from the army.

One national forest and four community forest user groups have received a total 30,026 cubic feet of timber, according to Sanjog Basnet, spokesperson at Bara Division Forest Office.

Basnet said the delay in auctioning the timber is due to the time-consuming task of sorting out the logs and compiling details. He acknowledged that most of the timber from the district is softwood, which may decay soon as it was already exposed to the last rainy season.

Sources at the Department of Forest said that the delay in receiving the costs incurred in felling the trees resulted in failure to calculate the estimated minimum price of the logs for auctioning purposes.

Similarly, the authorities in Makwanpur are worried that timber received by about two dozen community forest user groups in the district is also decaying. The timber in this district is a mix of hardwood and softwood. Figures on the quantities of the timber could not be obtained.

Prahlad Dhital, divisional forest officer at Division Forest Office Makwanpur, informed that the timber acquired by all these groups is yet to be put to use, pending a policy decision on distribution matters from the Ministry of Forest and Environment.

“The groups are not yet ready to accept a provision on providing 50 percent of the total timber produced for quake reconstruction purposes as sought by the federal government,” informed Dhital.

The groups were only contributing 25 percent of the timber .They now complain that they have been getting a very low volume of timber after the 50 percent provision was brought in.

Bharati Pathak, general secretary of the Federation of Community Forestry Users Nepal (Fecofun), stated that the timber from the felled trees has not yet been supplied to the market and is fast decaying. “Dispute between the province and the federal government has resulted in the delay,” he said, adding that sharing the timber must be rational. Trees are also being cut down in Lalitpur district.

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