Lalit Bahadur Thapa, of age 70 years having white hair, beard and moustache; looks fat, fit and fine. He belongs to lower Karmaiya village and is one of the esteem personality, arrived to upper Kanyashwor village with the support of 3 - 4 other people with walking sticks. The secretary of upper village, Man Bahadur Yonjan, thought the forest corresponding to kitchen garden was already taken by lower villagers and are still not satisfied, again he now came to entangle us by doing several conspiracies.
Kedar Dahal had recently came in District Forest Office, Sarlahi as a District Forest Officer. When NRP Parbati BK reached the office with one female and 2-3 friends and told this conflict is in process and I will transform it. DFO Dahal did not believe on it and said the high level conflict between two districts on community forest cannot be transformed by talking in office; this is only a waste of time. This is not good to confuse the people. In this way, the problem will never be solved.
The upper villagers do not know how to save the forest. They only know to destruct and deteriorate the forest. If this process continues, the landslide occurs and our village will lose everything. So whatever will happen, the forest area should not be given to them.
The known elites of upper village always suppress the honest and straight forward residents of lower village, even their district is different, so how our forest is theirs? We are using the forest which is joined with our kitchen garden from generations. Therefore, whatever happens we will not give forest to them at any cost.
Parbati Bishwokarma is an eyewitness of these all real picture. For normal person the situation is like to flee away by listening these problems; but Parbati Bishwokarma, National Resource Person of Natural Resources Conflict Transformation Centre-Nepal did not lose faith because she had a deep believe on conflict transformation process and on spider group.
Karmaiya VDC of Sarlahi, ward no. 2 and 4 lies on the base of Chure, developed and almost all infrastructures have been reached. The VDC is touched by East-West Highway.
There is another residential area which is 5 km above the East-West Highway that lies along the eastern embankment of Bagmati River and west of Chure.
District is different and village is also different, but the area is upper and lower. Lower village is in Sarlahi district and upper village is in Sindhuli district. The community forest that lies in between the boundary of both districts was the main reason to have bitterness in relation from decades. The majority of people in upper village were Brahmin and Chettri and that of lower village were Tamang. The quarrel lasted long due to which the conflict get exaggerated in the name of ethnicity. Then, harmony between ethnicity began to scattered.
The karmaiya VDC of Sarlahi, ward no. 2 and 4 having 236 users’ households had a forest area of 273.29 ha that lies North to Chure range. They protect the forest by the formation of Shree Harihar Community Forest Users Group since 14 years ago. They included some area of forest that lies in Sindhuli district in community forest map. In 2004, 57 households of Kauwa and Jhapsi formed Komendo Community Forest Users Group that included the forest area of 358 ha which was joined to south boundary of Sarlahi (now three community forests have been formed i.e. Nirkamal, Samarpan including Komendo Community Forest Group). The people of Sindhuli claimed that the area which lies on block no. 4 of Harihar Community Forest having 85 ha forest area is not of Sarlahi and in 2009, they make transference from District Forest Office, Sindhuli.
The entrance of Harihar area users' were prohibited by Komendro's in conflicted forest area of 66 Ha, lies in Sindhuli district but mapped in Harihar Community Forest of Sarlahi to make it as a national forest of 150 Ha. Same forest area was found on map of both Community Forest Users Committee and then started the mutual snatching of Bancharo, Bhukuri and Doko. This quarrel of forest did not bound only in forest. The movement between people was lost. The upper villagers began to frighten from the lower villagers. The chairperson of Komendro, Chamar Si Ghising said, we thought they were clever and reached people, may be they will entangle us by doing something. The lower villagers also frightened with upper at the same level as upper villagers with lower. The chairperson of Harihar CFUG, Bhimsen Thapa, said, there was always a fear to be beaten while walking through the upper village due to doubt and mistrust.
The conflict reached to Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) due to increasing disputes between both community forests. Once a time, the users of Hraihar area cut the tree of Acacia of its own area. The people of Komendo protest against them by saying why you cut our trees. This news was published on newspaper. The chairperson of Harihar recalled, this issue had reached up to authority office. We had to bear so trouble. Neither had they used that 800 cubic ft kayer nor we, which became worthless. The chairperson Thapa claimed that that tree was cut legally but due to issue of boundary became worthless.
With the increasing problem, forest office and community forest users of both districts had tried to solve the conflict. But, when they tried to solve, it got more enlarged. They reached to agreement but didn’t last even for 2 days and got reverted. The dozens of attempt was wasted.
But when spider group enter into the conflict, the contentious was totally finished. Before agreement, the lower and upper villagers were challenging not to leave one another at any cost by talking about sectionalism/communalism but after agreement, they are helping by joining hand to hand to save forest. The doubt and envy among themselves were finished and now have become nearer friend. The deforestation of forest was so fast during the period of quarrel. They alleviated one another for forest deforestation, said chairperson Thapa and quarreled in that issue. It was known later that deforestation was done by neither group. We now understood the smuggler gain advantage of our conflict and destruct the forest.
The natural resource person of NRCTC, Nepal, Parbati Bishwokarma, said all work was done by spider group by entering the conflict in process which was 1 decade long.
District office had tried many times to solve the conflict but when it became fail every time, the responsibility was given to NRCTC, Nepal. With the initiative of NRCTC, the conflict parties solve their conflict themselves.
The chairperson, Ghicig, of Komendo Community Forest User Committee said at first we didn’t trust instead we thought that the clever people of lower village brought those people to entangle us. Slowly by listening the talk, our trust increased. The natural resource person said the decision is yours about how to solve the conflict, there will be no intervention of others. We said we should have right to say all things, and they replied we will do same.
While listening conflict transformation process is non-partisan, transparent, whatever happen will be in front of you, decision should be done by you, chairperson of Harihar area thought the conflict didn’t get solved by trying many times by district office, now will this be solved? But while discussing in different stages really the process worked. Before the day they did not want to be in front of one another and now the interaction has been increased by discussing several times. The trust increased more and more. When spider team was formed to solve the conflict, they became more excited because in the spider group there was presence of people of both parties. In addition, chairperson Ghicig thought, there were trusted people who want common welfare in the spider group, now there will be justice, chairperson remembered the things of that time. When spider group started non-partisan, transparent and acceptable work by all, both parties felt affinity in process. The discussion was done with every party of conflict. They were passed by mass gathering. The chairperson Ghicig said with excitement that we all were asked before each decision, after that we started to talk with each other as there was time to time discussion.
The stand of conflicted party was understood. After enquiring stand, inner desire was come out in terms of common issue. To address the issue, alternatives were searched by conflicted parties themselves. The truth detective committee was organized to know the boundary of both district and overlapped area. The detective committee surveyed by going in forest. The chairperson of District Forest Office of Sarlahi brought map of area from Kathmandu. The boundary of district was found out. Both parties agreed to leave the forest area to community forest which lies in their respective district by mass gathering. Agreement was passed about not to graze animals on forest area.
After agreement, there appeared a land and sky differences in the situation. The chairperson of Harihar added, the respect and feeling was about to spoil but now respect has increased and there must be attendance of both villagers in auspicious occasion. The situation was leading to around ethnic conflict due to forest quarrel, at the same time spider group solved the problem and fix the respect and feelings. Before a year, there was a fearful situation to go alone in upper village but presently they have become nearer friend. The saying of chairperson of Komendo is like same, now we are trying to save forest and the relation has become like nail and flesh between friend of Harihar area and us.
The officer of Sarlahi Community Forest, Kedar Dahal, is changed now. At first, he had not believed. But now, he became a fan of natural resources conflict transformation process. To solve the conflict this process works surprisingly – said Dahal. The local facilitator of NRCTC, Parbati Bika, said to solve the conflict of other community forest he is sharing the problem with us.
The executive director of NRCTC, Chup Bahadur Thapa, said this process not only solve the seen problem but also join the broken hearts. At last, the same happened, the lost happiness of two villagers has returned back. The broken heart has joined. The developmental work has been restarted which had stopped due to conflict. The courage has increased to solve any problem by discussing and cleaning heart with one another. The rancor/bitterness has been changed to close relationship. The main thing is that spider group solved the conflict and helped in increasing respect/goodwill.