Locals accuse authorities concerned of not being serious
DHANGADI, Feb 3: Some 30 trees of 'Saal' species were found cut down in a national forest near Sanupal area a few weeks ago. The locals reported it to the District Forest Office but very little has been done to punish those involved in the illegal act.
Reportedly, some locals as well as forest staff were involved in felling the trees. Upon mounting pressure, chairperson and secretary of Sunpal Community Forest were arrested. But this has not satisfied the locals.
"Had the authority been serious, the trees would not have been cut in the first place. And even if some persons have been arrested, it's just to fool us. In reality, the authority has turned a blind eye to all the illegal activities since a long time," said Dil Bahadur Bohora, a local of Kailali Gauriganga Municipality – 7, Sanupal. "Had we not put pressure, nobody would have been arrested," he added.
According to the locals, since Saal timber is very expensive, mafia are quite active in the forest areas. In the last few years, dozens of Saal trees have been cut down.
Following complaints, a probe committee headed by Sher Bahadur Bhandari, chief of the Sub Division Forest Office of Badaipur, Masuriya was formed to address the issue. The committee has sought clarification from many suspects.
According to Ram Chandra Kandel, chief of the Forest Division Office, all concerned officials were interrogated in connection to the deforestation. The division office has taken the matter seriously and pledged to punish all those involved in accordance to the law.
"Nobody will be spared. Forest officials, if they are involved, will have to face consequences as per the law and some have already been arrested," stated Kandel.
According to Kandel, the committee is yet to ascertain how many trees have been cut down. He admitted that forest areas are shrinking due to deforestation as well as human settlements.
The government allocates huge amount of money for conservation of forest every year. However, conservation work does not look effective. Two years ago, a total of 21,152 hectares of forest lands were reported to have been encroached upon. This year, as per the government data, the size has increased to over 25,000 hectares.