Land mafia grab 243 bighas of watershed land acquired by govt long ago
April 15, 2019 05:00 AM NPT
By: Rohit Rai
DHARAN, April 15: Even though the government had already relocated the families from Surdu Watershed area which is the prime source of water supply for Dharan, it has been found that hundreds of Bighas of land in the watershed area have already been captured by various individuals.
Benefiting from the failure of the government authorities concerned to delist the previous land owners after relocating them, various individuals had started transferring the ownership of the land to their own names. According to various government documents, the government had relocated the households living in 243 Bighas of land in order to conserve the watershed area.
Although the erstwhile landowners should have been stripped off their ownership after they were relocated to Pathari and Bayarban area of Morang, various individuals still own the land after the concerned authorities did not do their job. The individuals have already started thinking of plotting and selling the land since they have not been de-listed.
Leaders from various parties have even backed the so called 'land mafia' after reaping wealth off them. Civil society leaders, on the other hand, have been worried that the encroachment will bring negative effects on the environment as well as deplete the only water source of Dharan.
Former deputy mayor of Dharan Sub-Metropolitan City and activist of Save Sardu Watershed campaign, Krishna Narayan Palikhe expressed his dissatisfaction with the government employees for not de-listing the former land owners. According to him, the 39.35 square kilometers of watershed area is now in grave danger due to the activities of the so-called land mafia to grab the land.
“We have put our optimum efforts to conserve the land, but governmental employees and political leaders have all colluded with the land mafia,” he said, “It will all be stark clear if the government forms a high level committee to probe the matter.”
At the request of the locals of Dharan while he was a on a visit on March 30, 1977 King Birendra had ordered to acquire the land as a watershed area. In June of the same year, a committee was formed under the leadership of the then the Zonal in-Charge Surendra Bahadur Shrestha to manage acquisition of the land in the watershed area. The committee had taken the decision to relocate the households. It has been mentioned in the letter sent by the then District Forest Area Reinforcement High Level Commission of Sunsari to various authorities concerned that 209 households were counted in the area in 1987 when the relocation started.
“As many as 209 households of the area have been relocated to 243 Bigha land in Jhapa and Morang for the conservation of the watershed area,” it has been mentioned in the letter.