Bajura – Binchhayaa, 1,2 and 3 of Himali rural municipality was renowned for the medicinal herbs. Recently the herbs are getting extinct in the area.
Brikh bahadur Bhandaari , member of Himaali Community forest users’ committee says, “ in the past, there used to be adequate medicinal herbs, the current improper trafficking deteriorated numbers of herbs.”
Binchyaa that covers over 40 percent of Baajura district is one of the remotest areas in Nepal.
Like Binchyaa, Humlaa, Baajuraa, Mugu, Dolpa, Bajhang districts possess high opportunity for herbs and yet the production have been diminishing. The main reasons behind this are improper collection and deforestations. These districts in reality boast to home over 200 rare invaluable herbs. Paanch aule is near to extinct thus the government has prohibited its collection.
Bichyaa, rugin, jukot, baai, saappaataa, gotri, jagannaath, koti, dahakot, paandy sain, Kailaashmaandaun, aatichaur, maanaakot, of Baajuraa used to have several herbs. Most of the households in these areas used to rely on these herbds for their income. Dhyane Bahadur Rokaayaa of Himaali Rural Municipality, 3 Ward Chairperson says, “by selling herbs, in a season people used to make half million to 5 million. But now, due to over collection, deforestation and blazing herbs are getting destroyed.”
Ganga Dhami of Gaumol rural municipality says that apart from over and haphazard collection absence of any plantation and reproducing of the herbs has led to current situation.
Locals have pointed fingers at herbs collection, sales and distribution rules and regulation formulators at local government, concerned stakeholders, and government forestry division office responsible for staying speechless. Kaale Neupaane, a local shares that there used to abundant medicinal plants but now there are very few.
Gobindra Bahadur Malla, Chief at Himaali Rural Municipality said that people had left no trace of any plants or herbs due to which the chances of regeneration was not possible. Anglaal Thapa of Binchhyaa shared his dismay that the contractor and the consumers take advantage of approval from Forestry division Office.
According to one of the contractor, over 2 million herbs are exported from Baajura district every year. However, the Forestry Division office reported that only 100 million transactions are estimated. The contractors not only cheats the consumers but also slips away from revenue collections. According to Baajuraa Forest Division Office, in fiscal year 2074/075 15 kinds of 2 laakh 64 thousand 3 hundred and 4 kgs of herbs were collected. But the permission was only approved for 49 thousand 4 hundred and 65 kgs.
Over 48 percent of land in Baajura is covered with forest. Bhim Prasad Kandel, Chief at Baajuraa Forest Division Office says Baajuraa is home for near extinct and endangered forest garlic, kutki, paanch aule, sugandha waal, jataamasi, vishjaraa, chiraaieto. Similarly, jhyaau, sugandhawaal, kurulo, paakhanved, rittha, kaaulo, tejpaat, kachur, timur, allo, loktaa, lauthsallaa, chutro, nigaalo, kutaki, jataamasi, bhutkesh, satuwaa, chiraaito, chyaau, sungaabhaa are also found here.
Likewise, in Baajura there are 65 different species of non-timber forest in which 26 subspecies are used for livelihood.
The 3 hundred 6 community forest cover 19 thoussand 1 hundred and 37 hector terrain. Among the 9 rural municipalities Himaali rural municipality has the most herbal plants.
Poachers shines as Police stays non-existence
Smugglers paradise in Sain Himaal
Smugglers of herbal plants and animal poachers are fearlessly stealing herbs and hunting wild species in Binchyaa village. There is not a single police post in the village.
This has created a new problem in the area as the nearest police station that was moved to the number 4 ward Kawaadi, the distance is a day away from the afore mentioned village.
Soome 8 years ago, the police station was moved from Yunaa. To reach Kawaadi, it requires minimum 1 day from the nearest point from Binchyaa and at maximum 3 days.
This has made the region a paradise for the poachers and herb smugglers. The cases of theft and illegal killing of wild animals have raised recently shares Malla
Laaljit Thaapaa, Chairperson Himaali Kaawadaa says that, the smuggling has boomed in Baajuras Himaali municipality and in Humla’s Taajaa Mailaa Kot municipality. He further enlightens, that the poachers use guns, spears and dogs to hunt.
Likewise, gumbaa, kot, baamu, baaudi mountainous areas of Himaali municipality and even hilly areas are engulfed by illegal poaching.
The poachers form a group of 10 and enter the jungles, if we interferre there is high possibilities that they will harm us, Laaljit shares. He further says that the poachers have live meeting place in Sain Himaal, a day or two away from the village.
The poached animals are smuggled to China and the appeals for support from the administration were turned down, says Chair person Rokaya.
It takes over 2 to 5 days to reach kawaadi Police station from Himaali rural municipality. According to baajuraa District Police Office, the distance played to obstruction to provide prompt security. Additional to that, lack of infrastructures like communication facilities, lack of perosnel only 7 police cadres were not adequate to handle the problems.
Samir Bhandari, CDO, pointed out the harsh terrain as the main reason for the problem. Bhandaari further says that plans for constructing a new post for the municipality is underway.
Furthermore, the Home Ministry is also keen to keep the security in high alert for the area, he says.
Open border, opens floodgate for poachers
Humla,Dolpa, Bajura, Bajhaang share a relatively not so strict borders with China, which has led to increase in smuggling of forest products of the respective districts. The smuggling is increasing at the areas where the borders with China is shared like Taanke, Chunwakhola, Limi, Maaspur, Khagaal gaaun of Humlaa and Naakchelaagnaa, of Mugu, lhaamhe, Chanraa, Khunkholaa of Dolpaa and urai Bhanjyang of Bajhang.
The poachers and illegal herbs businessmen have installed temporary shelters at numerous places on both sides of the borders. Basanta Prataap Singh, reporter shares that these are visible scenes at the areas. The slopes of the mountains are seen with medicinal plants being dried in sun, the shelters are filled with sacks of plants readied to be transported to China, Tibet. Caravans of mules, donkeys, sheep and porters carrying prohibited contents are also visible from several spots.
Similarly, some herbs are collected and transported to India via Kolti and Nepalgunj, most of the herbal plants are transferred to china through Humlaa shares the medicinal plant contractor, Padam Bahadur Shahi. He further shares that the contractors are not only from Nepal, they are also based in China as well. Through Bajhang’s Kaadaa rural municipality point hundreds of quintals of satuwaa, forest garlics, paanch aaule and many more are taken to Tibet, says Bahadur Lama of humlaa, who has a hotel near the Tibetan border security post. He says, District Forest Division is oblivious about the northern border herbal plants smuggling business.
It takes over seven days walk from Bajhang Chainpur to reach the border point. The forest offices do not have adequate manpower. Even the police have not reached every area, he claims.
A transit point for RaktaChandan
Urai Bhanjyang of Bajhang is well known as the border point to transfer Rakt Chandan to Tibet. In 2068, the police took hold of 86 porters carrying over 35 quintals of Rakt Chandan from Baaril to Tibet transferring the woods to across the border. The porters were from Baajura. That year, a report was also aired that over 1 hundred and 50 porters had transported 50 quintal Raktchandan to Tibet .
Following these events no records of any captures were reported till date. “This route has been active since 8 years”, a hotel owner at Lupu, Tibet working in his hotel for 11 years originally from Humla shares, “at the beginning, tiger skins, deer were prominent, nowadays the contents are mostly rakt chandan. “Last year, almost 37 quintal rakt chandan carried by over 1 hundred 23 porters from Baajuraa Swaamikaartik rural municipality, I saw them walked this route.” According to him, the route is usually active after Dasain and Tihar when most of the hotels are closed for the off season.
The smugglers moved to these borders following the strictness at the borders of Tatopaani and Rasuwaa. Once the contents reach the Tibetan land, they are openly marketed in the local market and the border point at Bajhang has no security system, which has encouraged the illegal businessmen to track their business in the area, says Jagat Tamang, Secretary, Kailaash Business association under Nepal China industry and Business association.
No trace of captured herbal pants whereabouts
In 2073 mangsir 26, District Police Office, baajura and District Forest Office Baajura combined team captured illegally collected herbs. District police office organized the press conference to report that herbs that were originally planned to be transported through Budhinandaa municipality’s Kolti and Daanasaangu market were worth 1.5 crore. These were jataamasi, katuki, chiraaito. The contractor officially obtained the permission for 9 thousand 7 hundred kg herbs but collected over 36 thousand 8 hundred and 80 kg of the plants. Dal Bahadur Bogati, DSP at District Police office reported that 27 thousand 1 hundred and 80 kg were illegal.
As mentioned at that time by the police, total 10 contractors were captured for collecting more than permitted amount of herbs. Surat Bahadur Shahi, 29 hundred kg, Birkh Bhandari 22 hundred Kg, Dhan Bahadur Chhatyal 1 thousand kg, Bishnu Prasad Snajaal 8 hundred kg, mangal thapa 21 hundred kg, Birkh rawal 27 hundred kg, Ganesh Rawal 46 hudrend 80 kg, Rajendra Shahi 12 hundred kg, Nabin Kumar Shahi 3 thousand kg and Dipal Regmi 66 hundred kg were reported to have collected more than permitted amount og medicinal herbs.
Bogati shares that the captured herbs were handed over to Area Forest Office. The then District Forest Office Chief Bijendra Subedi said that the persons who have collected the amount of herbs exceeding the permitted or approved quantity are all confiscated. These cases are sent to the court, he further claims.
According to the District Forest Division Office, Baajura, till date no one has been put into any actions under this subject. There is also no information of whereabouts of the confiscated herbal plants.
This investigative report is prepared in collaboration with Nepal Environment Journalist Group.