BIRGUNJ, July 3: The budget allocated by Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation for the Medicinal Herbs Development Program (MHDP) has been used up without any visible sign of progress.
To further worsen the situation, trees have been felled haphazardly in the name of implementing the program.
The ministry had implemented the program through District Forest Office (DFO), Parsa.
DFO Parsa had planned to plant medicinal herbs in seven hectares of encroached land in Sarbaiya Collaborative Forests in the district in the current fiscal year. But as the fiscal year is about to end, one can see only dried aloe vera in some parts of the land set aside for plantation. Paddy and sugarcane have been planted in two-thirds of the area allocated for medicinal herb plantation.
Chandra Dev Lal Karna, an officer at the District Forest Office (DFO), Parsa, said that the office had planned to plant six different medicinal herbs in seven hectares of land.
A total of Rs 2.5 million has been allocated for the project in the current fiscal year.
“It is a five-year. This year, we have managed to clear encroached area and prepare the land for cultivation,” he said, adding that only aloe vera and asparagus will be planted in the first year.
Locals say work completed by the office so far would cost only Rs 200,000-300,000. “The office has used timber from nearby forest to fence the cultivated area. The plot, where aloe vera has been planted, was already suitable for cultivation,” a local added.
Though the office claims that asparagus and aloe vera have been planted in seven hectares of land, the field is seen full of grasses and other plants. Two local farmers had planted tobacco and sugarcane in the plot designated for plantation of medicinal herbs.
They were chased away in mid-June only. Similarly, Khalil Dewan and Sheikh Mazrul have planted paddy in 10 and three kattha, respectively. The crop will be ready for harvest in a few weeks.
More than 100 trees felled
Meanwhile, the office has cut down more than 100 trees in the pretext of cultivating medicinal herbs.
The office has used the logs to fence the cultivation area, according to locals. An employee of the collaborative forest told Republica that the trees have been cut down.
“They have found a new excuse to cut down trees. Who will control this?” the employee wondered.