Sunuwars are losing rights over local natures

Indigenous Voice
Indigenous Voice03 Nov 2015, Tuesday
Sunuwars are losing rights over local natures

                                                                                                       Dal Kumari Sunuwar

We Kirant Sunuwars had our own economic and administrative systems. We owned lands, and we grew enough foods on them to live. We had our own community leaders called Jimmawal and Dwares. But the Nepal government gradually destroyed our systems.

We have a population of 55,712, according to the 2011 census report. We live close by Sunkoshi, Dudhkoshi, Tamakoshi and Likhu rivers. The region where we have been living for ages is called 'Wollow Kirant'. We share blood relations and close cultural ties with Kirant Rais from 'Majh Kirant' and Kirant Limbus from 'Pallo Kirant'. Our roots are same; we are descendants of the same patriarch.

We were traditionally dependent on Likhu River. That is where our ancestors fished. That is where they got water from to irrigate their crop-fields. But we are now deprived of our rights to Likhu River, which is now occupied by various hydropower companies.

We were traditionally dependent on Likhu River. That is where our ancestors fished. That is where they got water from to irrigate their crop-fields. But we are now deprived of our rights to Likhu River, which is now occupied by various hydropower companies. The land along and around Likhu River is our Kipat. But that has now been seized from us. The person who bought it is now plotting and selling it. This is just an example of how indigenous people are being stripped of their rights to land and natural resources. We must work together to regain our land and natural resources from individual outsiders. These are the property of our community. We should have collective prior rights over local resources.

With construction of hydropower projects, distributory rivers of Likhu have virtually dried up. Fishing is no longer a viable livelihood option. Irrigation is difficult. And a drinking water crisis is looming large. Hydro entrepreneurs earned fortunes out of Likhu River at the cost of pushing the local Sunuwar community into further poverty. There were promises of compensation, but not a single affected Sunuwar family has got it so far. Development has come to make us cry. We are not happy at all.

We have a similar story about forest. We had been freely using fuel wood and fodder from the local woods. But the forest is under a users' committee dominated by a bunch of educated and clever people. They have been felling trees, selling them and earning money. But the poor Sunuwars are not even allowed to collect fodder from the woods.

We have a similar story about forest. We had been freely using fuel wood and fodder from the local woods. But the forest is under a users' committee dominated by a bunch of educated and clever people. They have been felling trees, selling them and earning money. But the poor Sunuwars are not even allowed to collect fodder from the woods. Our ancestors would kill and eat pheasant, deer and other animals. But killing animals has been banned now. Even so, some members of the forest users' committee kill and eat wild animals.

But I am glad that our community is now become more aware about its identity, culture and history. We know Dashain festival was thrust upon us. We have stopped celebrating it. Some of us still do, but we do not use red tikas.

(Ex CA Member Sunuwar As told to Indigenous Voice)
 

 

 

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