Land pooling for Fast-Track Khokana locals demand proper resettlement

By Purushottam P. Khatri

Kathmandu, Sept. 22: Locals possessing around 300 ropanis of land in Khokana of Lalitpur district have not provided their land certificates to the government for land pooling to be carried out for implementing the Kathmandu-Terai/Madhesh Fast Track Project (Expressway).
The Nepali Army, which has been undertaking the main responsibility of building the Project, has started taking it as a challenge to the project ahead.
Locals have been demanding proper compensation to their land and preservation of the cultural sites, including Shikali temple, one of the main and oldest temples in Khokana. However, the NA has said that it was not them to fix the value of the land and provide compensation. The Ministry of Forest and the Department of Forest decides the value of the land and the compensation amount.
In Khokana, Sainbu, Bungamati and Dukuchhap of Lalitpur district, the government had already decided to pool a total of 912.5 ropanis of land for the project. Of them, 102.75 ropanis belonged to the government.
“Of the total areas, the NA has yet to receive land certificates of 293.75 ropanis of land belonging to locals of Khokana, Sainbu, Bungamati and Dukuchhap,” Major General and Project Chief Yogendra Khand told The Rising Nepal on Friday.
According to the NA, the government had already decided to pool a total of 15,069 ropanis of land for implementing the project. Around 912.5 ropanis of the land lie in Lalitpur district.
Among the total land areas allocated for the project, compensation was provided to the owners of 367.27 ropanis of land. Similarly, the NA had received land certificates of 148.75 locals but they (locals) have not yet received the compensation.
“We have held talks for more than 20 times with the locals, representatives of various struggle committees of Khokana areas to settle the disputes even in the presence of Defence Minister Ishwor Pokharel,” Major General Khand said.
“When we talked to them, we found they were not worried so much about the project, they expressed more concern about the 33 KVA transmission line of Nepal Electricity Authority which is also going to get installed in the same project alignment areas,” Khand said.
“We have been forced to give our land to the government under the name of various projects and we are likely to become landless squatters,” Narendra Dangol, member of Public Concern Committee, said.
Shrestha said that they were provided a minimum of Rs. 150,000 per ana land in around Khokana, Bungamati and Dukuchhap areas and Rs. 285,000 in Sainbu area. The current valuation of the land in the area has reached Rs. 1.2 million per anna near the roads, Dangol said.
“The government is making us landless squatters by pooling our land in the name of several projects,” he said. According to him, they were facing problems from the government for projects like transmission lines, Bagmati corridor, fast track and outer-ring road.
“We are not against any development project, but what we want is proper resettlement and compensation from the government,” Dangol said.
“When the fast track project gets completed, we would be the first one to welcome the NA and the government by offering garlands to them, provided that to the project affected families are given proper compensation and facilitated with proper human settlement management,” he said.
As there is no human settlement area in Nijgadh of Bara district, there is no such problem of land pooling, Khand added.
According to the NA, of the total 15,069 ropanis of land pooled by the government, 9,731 ropanis had already been pooled, and 4,439 ropanis is registered in government’s name. The remaining 899 ropani land is yet to be pooled, said the NA. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the project had been completed in July, 2015.

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