Province 2 petitions Supreme Court in turf war over forests

Published On: August 2, 2019 07:00 AM NPT By: Suresh Yadav

JANAKPUR, Aug 2: In a first for the Federal Republic of Nepal, a provincial government on Thursday filed a writ petition at the Supreme Court against the federal government, accusing the latter of trying to capture some forests in the province by setting up a company that would get merged into the Timber Corporation of Nepal. 

Bechan Kumar Mahato, assistant soil conservation officer, filed the writ petition on behalf of the Industry, Tourism and Environment Ministry of Province 2. Arguing that the utilization of natural resources falls under the jurisdiction of the provincial government, the writ petition has named the Office of the Prime Minister, the Timber Corporation of Nepal and the Office of Company Registrar among the defendants.

On June 6, the federal government had decided to merge the Sagarnath Forestry Development Project into the Timber Corporation of Nepal by first turning the project into a company and giving it the status of a separate forest corporation.

The federal government also decided to dissolve a committee overseeing  Sagarnath Forest, bear the expenses of all permanent staff working under the forest project and bring the forest properties under the Timber Corporation. Previously, a Forest Products Development Committee was managing Sagarnath Forest. 

The writ petition argues that forming a separate company to manage a particular forest and bringing it under the preview of the federal government amounted to an intervention in the jurisdiction of the provincial government. 

Citing Annex 6 (19) of the Constitution, the writ petition has argued that it is illegal to capture the forests of any provincial government without coordinating with that provincial government. Based on this constitutional provision, a cabinet meeting of the provincial government decided to seek legal remedy against the federal government’s decision. 

The writ petition also argued that bringing national forests under a company is against existing laws. 

Responding to the writ petition, the Supreme Court has set Friday as the date for hearings in the case.

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