Land victims continue sit-in protest for eight months

By A Staff Reporter

Kathmandu, July 11: The government has failed to address the demand of the land victims of Narayantar- Gokarneshwor section of the Bagmati Beautification Project although the victims have given continuity to their sit-in for eight months demanding compensation for their land pooled for the project.

Over 30 to 40 land victims have been staging the sit-in on the bank of the Bagmati River at Nayabasti, said Balaram Sharma Chaulagai, adviser to the Bagmati Victims Struggling Committee (BVSC).
Park construction work on either side of the river from Gokarna to Guheshwori was halted in February this year due to the protest of the BVSC, which has been demanding compensation for their land.
Under the Bagmati River Beatification Project, a park is being constructed from Gokarna to Guheshwori and Tilganga to Sinamangal on either side of the river.
Rupesh Pudasaini, a land victim, said, “I have now only four annas of land from the 14 annas of land. The government has captured my land for the Bagmati Beautification Project without paying any compensation.”
Pudasaini said that they were not allowed to build houses near any river during Pachayat period even after the land owners met all requirements for house construction.
But after the political change of 1990, the people were allowed to build houses on the river bank, Pudasini said.
As per the Land Acquisition Act 1977, compensation should be provided for the land owners while grabbing the land.
“But the government has grabbed our land without providing any compensation,” he said.
Another victim, Chandra Shrestha, said that two 99 years old men had also been staging the sit-in to encourage other victims.
Prabhat Shrestha, information officer at the High Powered Committee for Integrated Development of the Bagmati Civilisation (HPCIDBC), said that construction works in the Gokarna- Guheshwori section had been completely halted due to the protest of the victims.
However, around 70 per cent work on the park construction has completed in the section, he said.
Asian Development Bank (ADB) has not sent any official letter to pull out from the Bagmati Beautification Project, although there were rumours that the ADB was abandoning the project.
But the ADB told the HPCIDBC it would withdraw from the project if the dispute was not resolved, he said, adding that the deadline of the project was expiring in February, 2020.
The park is being built at the cost of Rs. 3.6 billion in the joint funding of the government and the Asian Development Bank. The government had invested Rs. 60 million and ADB Rs. 3 billion.
Of the total budget of the ADB, more than Rs. 10 million was invested and the beautification task of Tilganga to Sinamangal has completed, Shrestha said.
The HPCIDBC has been constructing the park on the either side of the Bagmati River since 2017.
The land of a few persons was pulled in 2001/2 in the name of maintaining natural water flow of the Bagmati River without providing compensation to the landowners, said Chaulagain.  

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