The Kathmandu Post, 16 May 2018
Trees worth more than Rs 10 million have been illegally cut down at Pashupati Community Forest in Pathari Shanischare Municipality-10, Morang, in collusion with the office-bearers of the forest users committee, Mangalbare Sector Forest Office and Pathari Area Forest Office, according to forest users.
The case came into light when the office-bearers of Pashupati Community Forest Users Committee could not account for 20 trees that were missing from the forest, said Bal Kumar Tamang, one of the forest users who have called for investigation into the matter.“The committee, by regulation, was supposed to cut down 46 trees, but we later discovered that 66 trees had been cut down,” he said. The community forest regulation allows the forest users committees to collect only 1,718.84 cubic feet of timber annually. Forest users have long suspected that some office-bearers of the committee have been secretly selling the forest timbers. Somnath Bhattarai claimed that the committee people used to cut down more than the permitted number of trees in the past as well.
“The extra timbers were sold secretly. I know a woman who had purchased 20 cubic feet of timber from the committee at Rs 3,000 per cubic feet and was handed the receipt of just Rs 20,000,” he said. The committee chairman, Ishwor Chauhan, has denied the allegation, though. He claimed that the 20 trees in question were already found uprooted.
“Those trees were collected and brought to the committee’s office. We have also informed the Mangalbare Sector Forest Office and the Pathari Area Forest Office about the matter,” he said.