What happened with the Halkhoriya Jungle?

Halkhoriya Jungle – beloved by Ram Bomjon’s followers and hated by Ram Bomjon’s victims, is not in the headlines of the Nepalese media anymore. News about Buddha Boy’s efforts to acquire the control over it emerge from time to time, yet parallel with information about the Parsa Wildlife Reserve’s activities to include it in its protected forest area, and uncoordinated attempts to either return it to the system of Forest User Communities or the Forest Department. As with many projects in Nepal, the big words remain on the paper and remains as a mere conversation topic for meetings and workshops of NGOs, conservationists, local politicians and tourist business. Watching the news about Halkhoriya, one gets an impression that the right hand does not know what does the left hand do. Not many things had actually changed, after Bomjon had officially left Halkhoriya, though. The very first thing among them is that he had never left, in reality…

Above image: cleaning initiative of Halkhoriya Daha lake after the area had been joined to the Parsa National Park. Source: Arthikdwar.com 

A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF BOMJON’S OCCUPATION OF HALKHORIYA

“Buddha Boy” had moved to Halkhoriya in 2006, after some wandering around, when he left his public meditation venue in a forest patch near the village of Ratanpuri. He and his followers return to Halkhoriya from time to time till nowadays, although they had been “officially” evicted by the local government of Bara District in 2012, after the headlines were hit by his many criminal activities there, including holding hostage the author of this article and a Nepalese Sadhuni lady, for 3, resp. 2 months, soon after it also his own mother and siblings, treating all of us with violence, torture and some of us with sexual assaults.

The Government dozed down his concrete and wooden huts in and around Halkhoriya, though they did not have proper machinery to rase his main villa, built during the time that I was held hostage there. That last building had been the venue for Bomjon’ next bloody attack, on 5 villagers of Ratanpuri, as soon as 2 years after his official eviction, on the 2nd of September, 2014. How could that happen?

The reply is easy. Any action to limit Bomjon’s activities in Nepal had been always done “just for the show” as Nepalis say. To satisfy the public, the media and foreign critics, that the criminal deeds which left me physically handicapped, had been “punished”. When people started to forget the headlines about Bomjon’s crimes, he sneaked silently back, without any fanfare, but with the full knowledge of the local administration, of villagers, and of course, local police, and backed by the Government (in 2014 by Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, later by the next PM Sher Bahadur Deuba)! And he did not return alone: he took back his violent monks and servants.

So anyone who ever thought that Halkhoriya had been got rid of the ghost of rape and violent attacks perpetrated there regularly by Nepal’s Buddha Boy, is wrong. The jungle is big and dense enough to provide perfect hiding places for continuing attacks on victims, and hiding their bodies, either dead or alive (on chains, locked up in huts, caves, tied to trees). That’s why I had been emphasizing long that allowing Bomjon to rule the Halkhoriya Jungle again, poses an imminent danger that he would use it for continuing his crimes against humanity: picking up random people from among his followers to torture, beat, rape or murder them, by the assistance of his nearest devotees. I had also warned the Nepali authorities (without any interest on their side) that the disappeared people who the media is full about in 2018 and 2019, should be searched in Bomjon’s most important “kingdom”, Halkhoriya. This jungle has a secret, which would cause a great shock if shed light…

Local people had been always too scared to walk through the jungle, due to not only tigers, rhinos and wild bears and snakes, but also many legends and superstitions. Police and army are not free of these fears. Although there are efforts to make Halkhoriya a wildlife reserve, resort, recreational area for local tourists, as far as I know, these had been very scarce, and the mysterious jungle continues to be a place of too many dark secrets.

Above image: Nature at it’s best, Halkhoriya daha, Parsa National Park, Central plains,. Nepal

IS HE IN OR OUT? NO ONE KNOWS…

There is a big confusion among the Nepalese public and foreigners about where Bomjon actually resides. He has settled in Sindhuli, Sarlahi, Sindhupalchowk and has many compounds and buildings of his followers in Kathmandu, Chitwan, Lamjung and many other places. But he had never really accepted that he had been “evicted” from the forest where he was most free to practice his, practically, satanic rituals of torturing people and presenting it as “spiritual practice”. He had returned already as soon as in 2012, a few months after his “eviction” (what was like a police request from local authorities that he left, before they would be forced to help him move out). That time he arrived from Sindhuli in a car, and the news ran around like wildfire in Ratanpuri, because he visited his first meditation tree at the village. I happened to be in a nearby village that time, and had a first hand account from a villager, who was angry that the police allowed him and his violent entourage to enter Bara District again. The police arrived and very respectfully and without touching him, asked him to leave the Ratanpuri Gavisha area, and finally, it seemed at least, he turned away and left.

Halkhoriya is but an open jungle with countless access paths and even forest roads, as it is surrounded on both sides by dry riverbeds, which can be used as rough roads for cars and motorbikes, in certain areas. No one can guarantee that Bomjon and/or his followers do not return there when they wish. They are also not afraid of the night, and nights are the times when they catch their new and new victims and bring them to the deep jungle.

After conversations with locals as well as with informers from his organization Bodhi Shrawan Dharma Sangha, I have learned already in 2014 that Bomjon had regularly sent his followers to secretly visit Halkhoriya. A French tourist (who does not wish to be named) witnessed how Pragya Ratna Ghullu, Bomjon’s leading follower at the time, had received a phone call from the “guru” with a task to immediately ride to Bara District (he was in Kathmandu). The foreigner guessed that Pragya had to bring a certain object from Halkhoriya Jungle, but he could not be sure, as it was a secret that Ghullu was not allowed to share. It was night and it was raining. Pragya Ratna Ghullu was apparently annoyed that he had to visit the jungle at night and alone, but he had fulfilled Bomjon’s order.

Another information was that already as soon as 2012 – 2013 Darshan Limbu (who had been selected by Bomjon to torture me most during the hostage period) and a few other followers had been sent by Bomjon to the Pathlaiya Jungle, to reside in makeshift new settlements, as if they had been assigned to wait for some new “job” to kidnap or torture someone again. Locals had also confirmed me seeing Bomjon’s men often in the area right after their official eviction.

The below very amateur video apparently shows a recent trip that local men and teenagers did to Halkhoriya Daha. One can feel the nervosity during the very brief trip:

 

A SILENT AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE NEPALI GOVERNMENT AND BOMJON IN 2018

The Kathmandu Post had published an article about Bomjon’s attempt to officially acquire Halkhoriya from the Government in 2018:

Forest officials clueless about government plan for Parsa Park

(Archive.today and Archive.org)

Ram Bahadur Bamjan religious group demands 700 hectares of forest land in Halkhoriya

Feb 13, 2018-

Forest Ministry and District Forest Office officials have no clarity on the central government’s plan for large forest area of Parsa National Park (PNP).

Most forest officials are clueless whether the government plans to expand PNP or decrease it substantially by giving away forest land to a religious group.

The central government, following its Cabinet meeting held February 9, decided to grant PNP forest area to Ram Bahadur Bamjan’s religious group after declaring the area as the ‘religious forest’.”

As the article reveals, confusion prevailed in 2018, but in my modest opinion the problem was in the fact that local members of Forest Department knew much too well that letting Bomjon back officially meant letting him continue his criminal endeavours against people. They have probably desperately trying to postpone or ignore the Government decision to allow the Brutal Buddha to occupy the forest again. The Kathmandu Post writes:

“The religious group has demanded approximately 700 hectares forest around Halkhoriya area, which also includes Kankalini Community Forest. The religious group had built some infrastructure there a few years back. Authorities removed those houses before the area was included in the park.

Government has not clearly mentioned the exact area of the forest land it plans to donate to the group. The confusion about the decision prevails in the Forest Ministry. Officials say such decision was not even taken.” (The Kathmandu Post)

Yet, confusingly, it is again the Nepalese Government which decided in 2018, that Halkhoriya should be joined to the Parsa Wildlife Reserve and public money had been invested to the work of clearing and repairing the lake of Halkhoriya Daha. It nearly seems that the Bomjon-supporting Government had used the money to clear the area of Halkhoriya for the “guru” so that he has where to take a pleasant swim after they allow him to fence the lake away and encroach the 700 hectares of jungle around it again:

27th Mar, 2018 | Tourism Mail Crew

BIRGUNJ, Mar 27: Halkhoriya Lake, an important tourism attraction at Parsa National Park, is being rehabilitated to make the location more appealing to visitors.

The park administration had started the management of the Halkhoriya area since last year. Chief Conservation Officer Hari Bhadra Acharya said that the rehabilitation started on May 7, 2016 on government orders.

Since the project started, the park administration has forbidden fishing in the Halkhoriya Lake. “The lake has become attractive after the fishing stopped,” said Acharya, “we have built dams to the east and south of the lake at the cost of Rs. 500 thousand. Now, with the lake full of water, it looks highly attractive and soothing.”

Currently, 27 workers are engaged in trimming grass from the lake, said Park Ranger Binay Jhole. The lake is situated 6.8 km to the north of Pilwa, which is located 4 km to the east of Pathlaiya. The Halkhoriya area can present sights of animals like one-horned rhino, tigers, elephants, and deer.”

Halkhoriya Lake undergoing rehabilitation at Parsa National Park

Above image: cleaning of Halkhoriya Daha lake. Source: Khasokhas

 

HOLDING HOSTAGES, TORTURING AND BEATING PEOPLE IS BAD FOR ECOLOGY!

“Forest Entrepreneurship and Management Division (under the Forest Ministry) Chief Chandra Man Dangol says, “The decision on giving away forest land has not been taken yet. This is just a proposal.” The move to give forest to the group is also against the existing Forest Act (1993). According to the act, any religious body, group or community wishing to conserve and utilise the national forest of any religious place or its surrounding shall submit the application to the DFO.” writes further The Kathmandu Post.

Bomjon has required 700 hectares of Halkhoriya, but no one really knows which 700 hectares are they. So because of the confusion, he actually can fence away again any area he wants. It is really comic but, what we read next in the article:

“As per the existing rules, those requesting land for the religious forest should also submit the work plan, mentioning the area and boundaries of such forest as well as functions to be carried out in such area. Products from religious forest should not be used for commercial purpose but only for religious activities whereas trees felling should not adversely impact the environment. ” (The Kathmandu Post)

It is tragicomic, because first of all Bomjon is NOT a religious leader, but a brutal criminal who kidnaps, chains, tortures, rapes and apparently even kills people. What kind of religion is that? I would call it Satanism! How will Bomjon’s “work plan” and “functions” held in the forest look like? To kidnap a woman on January and keep her on chain till March? Then take hostage five men found in the road to Ratanpuri, and thrash them to blood in April? Or a plan to rape a minor girl among the bushes in May…?

The Nepalese Government is the only one in the world which gifts a criminal with more than 48 victims behind him 700 hectares of dense jungle from its national park, so that he can continue to kidnap, hold hostage and torture many more people! In this context I would not worry so much about the bad impact of felling trees on the environment, but about the impact on human lives!

Yet, conservationists are also not happy with Bomjon’s “religious” plans in the PNP (Parsa National Park) jungle, and we should pray that they continue :

“Another government agency concerned as well as snubbed by the government’s decision is PNP. The forest land planned to being given away to Bamjan group is the ‘core’ area inside the park. Halkhoriya came inside the park in 2015 when it was extended by 128 km. According to PNP Chief Conservation Officer Haribhadra Acharya, the Halkhoriya area is significant for wildlife conservation and environmental reasons. “Being a wetland area, Halkhoriya Daha area is very important. It has movement of valuable wildlife like tiger, rhino, elephants and others due to water resources and it contributes in recharging of the water level for Chure area,” he said. (The Kathmandu Post)

THE HARM ON HALKHORIYA AFTER BOMJON AND HIS CULT MEMBERS MOVE IN

Image above: satellite images show clearly the extent of ecological damage after hundreds of thousands of Bomjon-worshipers move to the jungle for his regular 2-3 week long “Maitri Puja” gatherings, with buses, cars, motorbikes. Before every such event a many weeks long construction is taking place, when trees are cut and generators switched on to construct tents, podiums, kitchens etc. The image had picked up one of such events in November 2008. 

I have shown Google Earth satellite images in my previous articles and videos to emphasize the grave harm that Bomjon and his followers did to Halkhoriya’s nature when they had been staying there. Apart from human victims, a long list of whom had been attacked exactly in Halkhoriya, animals, birds and plants would again suffer.

The below video, which was made apparently by some follower, wants to emphasize the long queue of worshipers of the Nepalese Buddha Boy, but, unwillingly brings to the attention the grave damage that the construction and crowds perpetrated on the formerly lush and green riverbed. The area covered by dry sand in the video had been full of high grass and bushes in the years before this crowded meeting. It took many years that the nature regenerated a little on this riverbed, after Bomjon was evicted. The video had been made during the 2012 Maitri Puja, the same time when two women had been held in this very jungle hostage, and tortured by Bomjon and his followers, one of them the author of this article:

It is more than obvious that gatherings of this type, which always had been organized by Bomjon, as well as the residences of often hundreds of followers in his compounds, scare away wild animals like tigers, and their main food, deer. And Halkhoriya is an important corridor for tigers, and its lake is a source of water for many other wild animals, as conservationists know, so they had celebrated the joining of Halkhoriya to Parsa Wildlife Reserve in 2015:

“The extension will also enable animals to move between the PWR and Halkhoriya Daha, the largest natural lake in the Narayani zone, regarded as a lifeline for species such as the threatened greater one-horned rhinoceros.”

Boost for tigers as Nepal nature reserve expanded

Above image: Bomjon’s followers Ngima Dawa Tamang, Bal Hari Rai and Karma lama are volunteering in building his Halkhoriya villa named “Kajogpa” in 2011. Tractors like this had been riding in and out Halkhroiya many times a day, bringing in stones and construction material for Bomjon’s villa and other structures, even during the time the author of this article had been held hostage (Dec 2011 – March 2012). Certainly nothing of this reminds one of ecology…

More on this topic: Halkhoriya’s Ecology

HALKHORIYA’S WILDLIFE HABITAT ENDANGERED ALSO BY NIJGADH AIRPORT AND THE FAST TRACK

If anyone thought that the tigers, deer, bears, birds, snakes and many other animals could easily find alternative areas in the vast jungle of Halkhoriya, after pushed out of Halkhoriya by “Maitriya Guru‘s” plastic-burning followers, their noisy tractors, buses and generators and detergents washed down into forest springs and lakes, it is not the case. Nepal’s so-called “National Pride Projects”, which are planned many years, will destroy all the rest of their habitats. Just opposite the highway, there is the other part of the same jungle, which originally ran until the Indian border. Currently it is a vast patch which runs along the highway from Pathlaiya to Nijgadh. Yet just around the Khat Ghat Hindu Temple, which is a walking distance from Piluwa village (6 km from Halkhoriya), a huge international airport is being prepared, with plans to cut out a breathtaking amount of trees:

Nepal To Chop Over 2.4 Million Green Trees In Bara To Construct International Airport

“If a plan goes as proposed, Nepal’s large remaining green forest of Ganges Plain will be cleared within a few months to construct the New International Airport in Nijgadh Bara district. Lying within the ranges of Parsa National Park, this area is also habitat of Asiatic Elephant and Royal Bengal Tiger. According to experts, clearance of tropical forest will have a grave environmental consequences for Parsa, Bara and Rautahat Districts of Province 2 which has already an oldest airstrip in Simara.”

Nepalis want the development of infrastructure, yet not understanding the impact of destroying forests for their lives…

“The Tourism Ministry had submitted an action plan on cutting down a total of 770,000 trees—15,000 big and 575,000 pole shaped—in an area of 2555 hectares in the first phase. Minister Adhikari requested Minister Basnet to table the action plan at Cabinet meet as soon as possible.”

Forest Ministry’s position on Nijgadh Int’l Airport a welcome step

So imagine you are a tiger and need a huge area for your hunting and happy life. Kicked out by Ram Bomjon’s loudspeakers and poisoned by his followers washing powder tasting lake water, you try to cross the busy East-West Highway to find solace on the other side. Yet you find your favorite strolling forest razed to the ground! No deer can hide among the tall grass anymore, no rabbits and bird songs, no monkeys jumping from tree to tree to avoid the danger of the tiger down the ground…

In great panick you turn towards the Bakaiya River, where still some green tree used to be around, but alas, not anymore! The Kathmandu-Terai Fast Track construction is in great fever, and thousands of (other) trees are being cut down and the area becomes too open for a tiger to hide. Where to go..?

Kathmandu-Terai fast track: 151,785 trees to be chopped down

“It is estimated that around 114,000 trees would need to be cut down to make way for the national pride project, of which 111,500 have already been cut.”

Forest clearance on Fast Track route speeded up

 

More on the topic: A slow track towards Fast track 

International airport across Halkhoriya Jungle

BOMJON’S HOSTAGE-HOLDING COMPOUND AS A TOURIST RESORT?

No, it is not a joke. In fact, a few businessmen affiliated with Ram Bomjon already realized the idea to utilize the legends of his alleged “meditation” in Halkhoriya as an attraction to tourists. The places where people (including myself) had been chained to trees, locked up in huts, beaten to blood, raped and tortured extensively for months, are now becoming a kind of second Lumbini of Nepal, and the trip to visit this dark concentration camp is even advertised on Tripadvisor by a Nijgadh hotel owner, who organizes “bird watching” day tours to the “holy site”. Of course, visitors are not told that they are stepping on the soil where Bomjon hit my head and my blood was soaked to the ground, or where Darshan Limbu had sexually abused me. Neither does the hotel owner tell the truth that the Spanish women had been held hostage and tortured in those “holy places”, or the Australian boy brutally trashed by Bomjon. It seems that to Bomjon-supporting businessmen there is no conscience when it comes to money.

Out of respect to his 48+ victims of the so-called Buddha Boy, Halkhoriya should commemorate all those innocent victims who had been held hostage, tortured, sexually abused and beaten there by Ram Bahadur Bomjon and by dozens of his demonic assistants including red-robed Buddhist monks! It should be a reminder for every Nepali Government to come, about the danger of supporting false religious leaders, and a warning to potential victims. Halkhoriya should be made Nepal’s Auschwitz Museum!

 

Halkhoriya-related excerpts from Chure Wetland Report of Chureboard.gov.np(2012):

(Formatting and comments added).

“Halkhoria Daha is located in the Ratanpur VDC-1 & 2 of Bara District at an altitude of 160m.
It is natural lake extends about 46 ha inside the dense tropical Sal mixed forest of Charkose
Jhadi. It feeds by a Siran Khola, direct precipitation and seepages from adjoining Chure hills.
It is an important waterhole including the wildlife of the Parsa Wildlife Reserve. The wetland
is completely dried off. Siltation, succession, overgrazing, unsustainable harvesting of natural
resources including NTFPs, forest fire, etc., are the major threats for the wetland. Renovation
of the Daha and conservation of adjoining forest is urgent.”

3.1.2 Overview: Halkhoria Daha is natural wetland situated inside the dense tropical Sal mixed
forest of Charkose Jhadi in southern part of Chure hills. The Halkhoria daha associates with
other six small ponds of different size. This unique wetland provides important refuge for birds
and is a key waterhole for wildlife including the wildlife of the Parsa Wildlife Reserve. The
Wildlife Reserve is located about 12 km west from the wetland. The Daha is surrounded by a
forest along the foothills of the Chure towards the North. It is bordered by the Bakaiya stream to
the east, Mahendra (East west) to the south, Balganga (Bhandri) stream to the west and Hatia and Chhatiban VDCs of Makawanpur district to the north. Large part of the lake has been covered by sand deposits and vegetation growth converting as grass land drying the wetland.

3.1.3 Access: The Halkhoria Daha is accessible from the east west highway; it lies about 10 km
east from Pathalaiya of Bara district. A seasonal dirt road of about 5 km diverts before crossing
the bridge of the Pasaha River. The Pasaha river lies west of the Nijgadh bazar.
3.1.4 Ecological Feature: The wetland covers approximately 46 ha, but during the dry season,
the water coverage area limits to 5-10 ha. The study team didn’t see the open water body during the field visit on 19th June 2012 walked through almost middle of the wetland to cross it. It was almost converted as swamp or marshy grassland (Photo 2). The Daha has been drastically shrunken due to the cumulative effects of by siltation, sedimentation and succession, low water recharge and including the invasion by invasive alien weeds.

3.1.5 Hydrological Features: There is a permanent inflow from a small stream of Siran Khola
(originated from Chure hills) which is very shallow during dry season. A secondary tributary,
Kalikhola that originates from the Halkhoria Chure forest, equally shallow also feeds this
wetland. Otherwise, the wetland receives water from monsoon rain and seepages from adjoining Chure hills. No ground water source observed in Halkhoria. The upstream of Siran Khola avoids the human settlement.

The Halkhoria Daha exists along with its associates respectively i) Singyahi ii) Piparawa iii) Deb
Daha iv) Thalatti v) Kachuhani (east of Hallkhoria) and vi) Rikrihan (east of Hallkhoria). These
small water bodies have surface feeding and ground springs.

According to the personal communication with local representatives, the Halkhoria daha had
sufficient water before 1990s The water level was up to the breast height (4 feet) even during the dry season. When the wetland has been given lease out for fishing during that period the
degradation of the wetland is started. The fish contractor dried out the wetland to remove all the
native fish species using the pump before releasing the fish fingerlings (the native fish species
can eat the fingerlings) as well as to harvest fishes, which led a degradation and shrinkage of
daha as it didn’t retain the water in the lake as before. Local people believed that Halkhoria and
associate wetlands never dried due to the power of Ban Devi (forest deities) but by the activity of fish contractor the Goddess Ban Devi had angry and water level is never raised as before.

As many Bomjon-followers might remember, the experiment to place alien fish in the lake of Halkhoriya had been initiated and overseen by Ram Bomjon’s local “power-man”, Jas Bahadur Waiba! The lake had been in a relative natural condition before Bomjon started to build his villa, for which the tractors carrying construction material had been using the area of lake as an access road, damaging the whole area. During my personal re-visiting of the site in 2012, after my torture, the lake was a swamp and nearly dried up, and the area full of plastic, metal, wood and concrete construction material, and was smelling rotten. Bomjon’s crowded presence, and his 2012 Maitri Puja was the main reason of the Dahas final damage. 

3.1.6 Wetland type: Lacustrine (lake/pond) and Palustrine (marsh/swamp).
3.1.7 Water Quality: Not examined.
3.1.8 Noteworthy Biodiversity: The wetland is located inside the Sal dominated mixed forest of
Charkoshe Jhadi. The flora and fauna observed during field visit are as follows:

Fauna
The Halkhoria Daha supports the habitat for 17 mammalian species. The Bengal Tiger, Nilgai
and Sambar Deer are commonly visited in this wetland area of Chure- Bhawar region. The
Sambar Deer was also sighted during the field visit. The most common mammalian species
observed along this lake are Rhesus Macaque, Golden Jackal and Barking Deer. The wetland and its surrounding forest has been harbors plenty of residential and breeding bird species. During the field visit on June over forty species of birds had been sighted. Most of them were breeding and residential. During the study following five species were recorded only from this wetland area. They were Bar-wing Flycatcher-shrike (Hemipus picatus), Greater Racket-tail Drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus), White-rumped Shama (Copsychus malabaricus), Velvet-fronted
Nuthatch (Sitta frontalis) and Black-crested Bulbul (Pycnonotus melanicterus). Greater Coucal,
Red-vented Bulbul, and Spotted Dove were found as the most common bird species. Similarly,
over ten species of each herpeto-fauna and fish have reported from this wetland. Amphibia and

Fish were not observed during the field visit of the dry season since the lake has been highly
successional stage and there was no open water body (Annex 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, and 2.4).

Flora

The Halkhoriya harbors diverse tree species of riparian nature along the flooded area. Vegetation around the lake is formed by Sal (Shorea robusta), Dumri (Ficus racemosa), Rajbrikshya (Cassia fistula), Bhalayo (Semecarpus anacardium), Bhelar (Trewia nudiflora), Simal (Bombax ceiba), Amala (Phyllanthus emblica) etc. This wetland does not have floating floral species.
Currently due to sand deposition on the lake, even the former wetland area has been encroached
by many woody species. Such successional tree species include Khayar (Acacia catechu), Bhelar (Trewia nudiflora), Tikuli (Mitragyna parvifolia), Jamun (Syzygium cumini), Bauhinia
malbarica and Ficus species. The wetland dependent herbaceous species include Narkat
(Phragmites karka), Pire Jhar (Polygomum hydropiper), Persicaria species, Cyperus digitalis,
Carex species, kans (Sachrum spontenum) etc. The moist parts around the wetland have been
seriously invaded by Lahare Banmara (Mikania micrantha) (Annex 3.1 and 3.2).

3.1.9 Ecosystem Goods and Services

The wetland provides a wide range of goods and services to local community such as grazing
land and waterhole for livestock, wild fruits/tubers, thatch grass (khar), fishing and snail
collection. Not only from nearby villages, the Malaha community from Kalaiya bazar also used
to come for fishing and snail collection often created conflicts in the past with local people on
resource use.

The Ratanpur village is the nearest settlement from the Halkhoria, it was dominated by Danuwar
(Kacchad) community before 2032/033 B.S. In last 70′, other social groups such as BraminChtettri from mid hill migrated and settled in ward number 2, increasing the human pressure to Daha and its basin for the resources. Danuwar community was the traditional users of this wetland for fish, food, fodder, etc. As the resources depleted the Danuwar community is
migrated from ward no.1 and settled at ward no. 2 which is more far from the wetland now their
dependency on this wetland is reduced. The people from Piluwa village situated south of East
West Highway also frequently used this wetland for their livestock grazing and collecting
firewood and fuel wood.

The Halkhoria Daha has also cultural values; the local communities believe that the Halkhoria
Daha and its forests is an abode of Goddess due to its sacredness. In addition, Halkhoria had
become popular all of sudden when a supposedly saint “ Ram Bahadur Bamjam” nicknamed as
a Buddha boy, visited this area for meditation in 2005 and hundreds of devotees and visitors
come to worship “Bamjam” every day. The followers of Bamjam fenced the forest area with
barbed wire inside the forest and restricted the grazing, collecting fire woods & fodders for
creating tranquility for saint’s meditation. However, the human movements disturbed the wildlife habitat. Besides, the rural people from Ratanpur, Piluwa and nearby villages come to Halkhoria daha for worshiping goddess in every Haribodini Ekadashi in the Nepali month Kartik.

3.1.10 Observed Threats; Siltation, succession, overgrazing, unsustainable harvesting of natural resources including NTFPs, forest fire, etc., are the major threats for the wetland. Soil
erosion from the adjacent hills dried up of feeders (Siran khola and Kalikhola).

3.1.11 Institutional Involvement: IUCN Nepal (1995) prepared a Bara Forest Management
Plan; the Nepal Tourism Board allocated NRs 500,000/- for constructing road from
Bhadrakali army post to HalKhoria Daha in 2011/12. The District Soil Conservation and
Watershed Management has supported for construction of water tank for drinking water
purpose in the villages.

3.1.12 Land ownership and Management: The landownership remains under the Government
of Nepal; it has been managed by the Bara district forest office.

3.1.13 Management Recommendations: The significance and threats of the Halkhoria Daha are realized since a long time ago but the rate of degradation is continued and is almost verge
of extinction. So, it needs urgent restoration to bring back to its previous state and help
providing the ecological services to the local people. As being a key waterhole for the
wildlife of Parsa Wildlife Reserve so it should be restored to protect the wildlife of this
region. The key restoration project will cover following actions.
• Construction/ maintenance of dam at the southern end of the Halkhoria Daha. The current
dam constructed in 2006/07 with the support of VDC has fallen down.
• Regular removal of silts/sands from the lakebed to increase a depth and enhances its water
holding capacity.
• Remove invasive alien plant species and unwanted tree species from the Daha.
• Conserve the upstream of Siran Khola so that the soil erosion will be reduced during the
monsoon.
• The entire catchment with its forest, vegetation and waterhole needs to be fully protected to
boost the water recharge.
• Provide capacity building training to local communities for restoration and sustainable use
of the Daha, and to manage local festival.
• Conduct detail inventory of floral and faunal species found in and around the wetland.
• Develop and implement the income generating programs for wetland dependent
community of Halkhoria area.

A FEW RELEVANT PUBLICATIONS:

A study about the flora and fauna of the Nepalese Terai planes, including Halkhoriya Daha:

Terai Forests of Nepal

An interesting study about Community Forest Management in Halkhoriya and other Terai forest areas, dealing with the perceptions about using forest products by the poor locals:

People’s perception on stability and output from two different forest management modalities of Nepal’s Tarai Study team

A work by Care mentions Halkhoriya:

“Halkhoria Collaborative Forest Management Committee is one of collaborative Forest
Management Group in Bara districts which covers 23 VCDs and 2 Municipalities and comprises
1938 ha and handed over 2068. It is registered in District Forest Office, Bara. This committee is
responsible for to promote the sustainable management, conservation and utilization of forest
resources as well as support to improve the livelihoods of the user members.”

Final Evaluation, Hariyo Ban Program, 2017 

 

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