KAPILVASTU, June 11: Over 10,000 hectares of forest land has been encroached upon in the district of Kapilvastu. The Forest Division Office in Kapilvastu said various schools, organizations, individuals, temples and schools have encroached upon the forest land for various purposes over the last one and a half decades.
Until 2001, 62,112 hectares of land was recorded in Kapilvastu, according to the land utilization data. But 106, 44 hectares of land has been encroached upon so far since the data were recorded in 2001.
According to a report prepared by the Forest Division Office, forest land is rampant in areas of Patna, Gugauli, Kharendrapur, Birpur and Bisunpur. About 3,500 hectares of forest land in the earstwhile Patana Village Development Committee has now been limited to 1,600 hectares.
The locals have constructed temporary makeshift tents by encroaching upon 1,805 hectares of land. Some locals have used the encroached land for farming while others have constructed schools, temples and houses there.
According to a report prepared by the forest office, about 1,280 hectares of forest land has been encroached upon in Patna, 275 hectares in Gajedaha, 130 hectares in Hasautha, 50 hectares in Hasautha and 70 hectares in Patariya.
Forest officials say the local politicians, especially those belonging to the ruling Nepal Communist Party and the opposition Nepali Congress have taken over the forest land in Patna of Gogapur.
According to the forest office report, 10,805 hectares of forest land registered in the name of Mayadevi Collaborative Forest has been encroached upon at 27 different places.
“Land encroachment is the highest in Patna forest,” said Assistant District Forest Officer Prakash Thakur, adding, “Political parties, landless squatters and schools have captured forest land.”
Thakur complained that his office received threats from the political parties and locals when it tried to evacuate the forest land encroachers.
“What can we do when the politicians who already have their own houses want to encroach upon the forest area?” asked a local political politician seeking anonymity, adding, “The locals are encouraged to encroach upon the forest land when politicians themselves do so.”
Meanwhile, the district forest office has decided to use the Global Positioning System (GPS) to determine the exact forest area in the district. The office plans to begin GPS mapping projects from July.
Kapilvastu Division Forest Office and Chandrauta Division Office have presented a work plan to the provincial government, aiming to begin GPS mapping projects in the district. “Since we lack the accurate details of forest land in the district, we want to collect the data by using GPS,” said Ishwori Paudyal, chief of Kapilvastu Division Forest Office.