| July 18, 2018
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Locals in forest users' group setting forests on fire

People employed by a timber contractor set fire to tree trunks in the forest area in Dadeldhura  district in this recent photo. The contractors allegdly in collusion with the forest user groups and forest  officials set fire to timber to claim compensation from the government. People employed by a timber contractor set fire to tree trunks in the forest area in Dadeldhura district in this recent photo. The contractors allegdly in collusion with the forest user groups and forest officials set fire to timber to claim compensation from the government. Photo Courtesy: Hikmit Singh
DADELDHURA, May 9: While the Department of Forest (DoF) is struggling to control forest fires at various places across the country, it has come to light that members of local users' groups and contractors have set hundreds of forests in Dadeldhura district aflame.

The local forest users' committees that are responsible for conserving community forests have themselves been setting fire to forests.
"Every year, local users in hill areas put forests on fire to make way for new grass," said one of the staff at Alital Rangepost on condition of anonymity.

"When forests are set fire around this time, it leads to better production of grass," Ramchandra Bhatta, a local, said.

The trend of setting fire to forests is also growing to claim compensation from the government. District Forest Office (DFO) usually recommends contractors to the DoF to receive compensation for destroyed logs.

District Forest Officer Bishwamani Acharya admitted the involvement of local forest users' committee in forest fires.

There are old timbers worth one billion rupees in the forests of Dadeldhura.

Seventy-three percent of Dadeldhura district is covered with forests. As per the record maintained at the DFO, locals set fire from 100 to 150 forests each year.