By Sher Bahadur Singh, Mahendranagar, Dec. 1: As many as 2,473 families displaced during the expansion of Shuklaphanta National Park in Kanchanpur district have been waiting for a permanent solution to their pressing problem-lack of legally registered houses.
Nearly two decades ago, the government displaced them while expanding the then Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve. They have been residing in temporary camps at Dhakka, Tarapur and Lallare Danda in the district.
Although the government rehabilitated many displaced ones in various phases, the plight of displaced ones here has not come to the light of the local authority. The local authority has already formed over two and half dozen of Commissions to address the issues but to no avail.
The displaced ones have been piling pressure on the concerned authority by launching various protest programmes (strike, closure, hunger strike, demonstrations and marches) at the administration offices and on the highways.
Reserve-victims District Struggle Committee chairperson Hirasingh Bhandari bemoaned that although two decades have elapsed, the problems of the displaced ones have not been addressed yet.
According to him, there were 604 families temporarily residing at Dhakka camp, 158 at Tarapur and 13 in Beldangi's Lallare Danda.
The 29th Commission formed earlier to address the displaced ones' issues had recommended the government to provide one kathha of land or Rs 500,000 to each such family. But the victims had disapproved the scheme leading the process to stall.
"We left behind our 2-4 bigha of land (one bigha is equivalent to 6,772.63 square meters) during displacement. How could we live off the 1 kathha (338.63 square meters) of land?" questioned Bhandari.
Likewise, National Park victim Dipendra Bohora blamed that the government was not serious about their issues. According to him, the government had distributed identity cards to the survivors.
The other displaced ones were taking refuge in unmanaged shelters on the public land in the surrounding of other camps.
Surendra Bam, the coordinator of the task force formed to resolve the displaced ones' issues, shared that the task force had already submitted a report with alternatives. "The victims should get justice and we are hopeful that justice would be served to them," expressed Bam.
Bam coordinated task force had recommended 10 kathha of land to each household or Rs 6 million each household. "We recommend that the government should provide a shelter if not compensation in cash,"