RAUTAHAT, Nov 18: Forest encroachment has increased in Rautahat district as people migrating from various parts of the country have resorted to clearing forest areas to settle down illegally.
Although the government spends millions of rupees in the programs aimed at the conservation of Chure region, such programs have not succeeded in saving forest areas from continuous encroachments. Consequently, Chure area in the district stands at a high risk of complete deforestation.
In the past one decade alone, over half a dozen new settlements have developed in the forest areas that are part of Chure belt in Rautahat.
Such new settlements include Bholentar, Bhalu Khola, Arunbasti, Morangey, Hilleykhola, Mahadev Dada, and Gaidetar, among others. Many families in these settlements are migrants from Makawanpur, Sindhuli, Kavre, Dhading and other districts. The migration continues, threatening the forest areas.
According to District Forest Office (DFO), Rautahat, about 2,700 hectares of the total 29,400 hectares of forest areas have already been encroached upon. Bholentar settlement alone encroaches 800 hectares land, the DFO record shows.
Such rampant encroachment of forest areas have already led to various adverse effects, including the drying up of many water sources like springs and ponds, according to environmentalists.
"Forests in the district are continuously diminishing due to illegal settlements. This makes Chure's future highly uncertain," said Chief District Officer (CDO) Narahari Baral after inspecting the settlements built in encroached forest areas in the northern parts of the district on Wednesday.A DFO team was also part of the inspection.
During the inspection, they found that those affected by the earthquake of April 25 were involved in building illegal structures in the forest areas.
Concerned stakeholders say that the government should take special decision to prevent illegal migration and forest encroachment. Shankar Raya Yadav, chairman of a local Forest Consumer Committee, suggested that the government should introduce tough measures and relocate the settlements from encroached forest areas.