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HomeNewsConflict Over Land Ownership Displayed in Mardhar Wetland Conservation Battle

Conflict Over Land Ownership Displayed in Mardhar Wetland Conservation Battle

In the ongoing effort to preserve the ecological significance of Mardhar wetland in ward 8 of Chandrapur Municipality, authorities are grappling with a land ownership dispute that has significantly reduced the wetland’s size from its original 100 bigha (67.73 hectares). Over the years, human encroachment and questionable land allocations during the pre-1990 Panchayat era have led to the current size of approximately 20 bigha.

Chandrapur Municipality, recognizing the wetland’s importance in preserving biodiversity, is now gearing up to take the matter to the Birgunj High Court after its attempts to nullify individual land registrations through the Land Revenue Office faced hurdles. Despite the municipality’s December 6, 2023 request to cancel land registration certificates, the Land Revenue Office claimed it lacked the authority to do so.

Legal advisor Dilip Koirala revealed that while landowners assert their lawful ownership, the Ministry of Forests and Environment and the Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation consider Mardhar Wetland as government property. With failed attempts at resolution, the municipality is now preparing to file a case in the Birgunj High Court.

The Ministry of Tourism allocated Rs3.5 million last year for the wetland’s protection, emphasizing its role as a tourist attraction. The district administration office and the municipality collaborate to maintain and conserve the area.

Chief of the Land Revenue Office, Hemraj Phuyal, traced the origins of the land registrations to the late 1980s, indicating that private individuals were allotted land for forest improvement. The situation, he notes, arose due to poor judgment during the Land Commission of that time.

Wetlands are crucial for biodiversity conservation, providing habitats for wildlife, preventing landslides, and maintaining water sources. The National Wetlands Policy 2012 emphasizes that wetlands, being sources of perennial water, cannot be privately owned.

Mayor Sanjaya Kafle stressed the need to correct past mistakes and preserve Mardhar wetland, home to various species and migratory birds during winter. The municipality plans a scientific study on the wetland’s surroundings to determine its natural boundaries.

As the legal battle unfolds, the municipality urges individuals with land ownership certificates to cooperate, emphasizing the importance of correcting historical errors to ensure the wetland’s preservation for future generations.

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