Neel Prasad Bhandari, who had his contribution to internationalise Thokarpa in Sindhupalchowk district as a place of origin of the culture of community forest, has passed away. He was 82.
He died at his Koteshwor-based residence, the family said. His last rites are scheduled at the Pashupati Aryaghat today itself.
Bhandari had been a double cancer patient – of prostate glands and lung – for the past two years. He is survived by his spouse, three daughters and two sons.
He had joined politics in 2017 BS and upon realising that participation of local community in forest conservation and management was needed for the conservation of forest, he had floated his idea of planting trees in range land areas while had been the chief (Pradhan Pancha) of the then Thokarpa Village Development.
As per his commitments, he and villagers had walked up to 14 kosh (A kosh is about 3 kilometers) from the village to Chautara’s Patlepani Forest Nursery (two-way) to bring plants for the transplantation. The villagers who had taken the responsibility of taking care of the newly planted plants traveled three hours to carry water in traditional jars and tin cans to water the trees. As a result, plants had grown during the dry season. The time was 2029-30 BS (47 years back).
He was declared the community forest campaigner from the people’s level. Thokarpa presently lies in the Sunkoshi rural municipality-1.
Shrawan 25 every year in the Nepali calendar was decided to be observed as the Community Forest Day in 2073 BS in commemoration of the Day (Shrawan 25 in 2030 BS) when the culture of community forest was formally begun in Thokarpa.
The government has already decided to establish an international-standard research center for community forest at Thokarpa and its detailed project report (DRP) has been already prepared.