DOLAKHA, Jan 10: Kalinchowk of Dolakha district has been facing rampant deforestation and encroachment of public land as a result of tourism boom. There are many places where the locals have erected structures without taking permission from the authorities and chopped down trees in the nearby areas.
One local informed that there is a trend of cutting down trees to construct houses in encroached land. “Our laws do not permit cutting down trees but the people here have been breaching the laws because importing wood from outside the district is very expensive,” said a local.
“We have no option other than chopping down the trees illegally. After all, we have to operate our hotels,” he added.
Over 2,000 houses have been built in Kuri Bazaar, Gyangdanda and Thumka in the encroached lands. A private company has also started operation of cable car in the disputed area.
In the north of Kuri Bazaar alone, over four dozen trees have been cut down to build houses and other structures. Likewise, if one goes toward the south, they can find a trail of tree stumps.
Jhareni Community Forest in the district has also faced the brunt of rapid and unchecked deforestation, according to Hira Pandey, chairman of the Community Forest Users Group.
“We live in Lapilang village below the forest and our forest areas surround Kuri Bazaar and Gyangdada,” said Pandey. “But some locals cut down trees at night. This has happened many times. We have reported such incidents to the District Forest Office but they have not taken any measures to prevent it.”
Chief of the District Forest Office, Praveen Bidari, said they are in the process of investigating deforestation in the forsts of Kalinchowk. “We will assess and study the situation and then try to solve the problem in coordination with the neighboring Sindhupalchowk district,” he said.
The problems started getting out of control after Kalinchowk was developed into one of the major tourism destinations. However, no apparent action has been taken so far to counter the problem.