KAILALI, Feb 21: Following the provincial assembly’s decision to fix Godawari Municipality as the capital of Sudur Paschim Province, the community forest around the area faces the risk of being encroached upon.
As Godawari has been fixed as the capital of the province, different organizations have started encroaching upon the community and national forests around the area. The provincial assembly had decided to fix Godwari as the capital of the province on September 28, 2018.
In recent times, different organizations have encroached upon the forest by putting up ‘construction site’ sign boards in Attariya forest. Following the announcement, more than 50 percent of Durga Laxmi Mahila Community Forest land has been encroached upon by different organizations. The land has been encroached upon by Small Farmer Cooperative Ltd, Buddha Temple, Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), and Godawari Municipality itself.
Likewise, the cow ranch inside the community forest, too, has been encroached upon by Attariya Development Forum, Godawari Hotel Entrepreneurs Association, Godawari Single Women Group, among other dozen organizations.
According to Durga Kadayat, president of Durga Laxmi Mahila Community Forest Consumers Committee, different organizations have started encroaching upon the forest land in recent times.
“They [different organizations] put up ‘construction site’ sign boards on the forest land overnight. We [community forest] uproot the sign boards in the morning. They again put up the sign boards during the night time,” Kadayat said.
“The trend started after Godawari was declared as the capital of the province,” the official said, adding that the government and political parties should help conserve the community forest. She further added that the municipality itself has also encroached upon the forest land. “The municipality, too, has encroached upon the land and built a wall. It has said that the land will be used for sporting events,” she said, adding that the community forest has continuously urged the Division Forest Office, Attariya, and the Godawari Municipality to demolish the wall from the forest area.
“The government itself has been helping different organizations to encroach upon the community forest land. The government has been allocating budget for different organizations to build physical structures on the community forest land,” she said. According to Dandi Raj Subedi, president of the Federation of Community Forests Users Committee, of late, the forest land has been encroached upon by different organizations.
When asked about the encroachment of the forest land, Ram Chandra Kandel, forest officer at the Division Forest Office, Dhangadhi, said that the he has already directed the people concerned to “bring the situation under control”. “We have been taking initiatives to check the encroachment of forest land,” he said.