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Khokana, Bungamati residents complain to visiting lawmakers

  • Kathmandu-Tarai Expressway
- CHANDAN KUMAR MANDAL, Kathmandu

Nov 2, 2018-

Residents from Khokana and Bungamati, two key locations of the proposed Kathmandu-Tarai Expressway, have poured out their grievances to visiting parliamentarians over the project for encroaching their farmlands and heritage sites. 

The locals have blamed the government for attacking their centuries-old heritage sites and displacing them from their traditional settlements without even paying them reasonable compensation for acquisition of their arable land.

On Thursday, members of the Parliamentary Committee of State Affairs and Good Governance made a field visit to Khokana and Bungamati, two Newari settlements that have been protesting against the national pride project citing various reasons like the project posing threats to their cultural and religious heritage sites, indigenous identity as well as insufficient compensation for land acquisition for the project.

Even after the construction work on the project site has begun, locals of both places have continued expressing their discontentment against the project.

Narendra Raj Dangol, local resident of Khokana, said he wouldn’t give his land to the project because he was paid meagrely for his land.

“The market price of the adjoining land plot stands at Rs1.2 million per ropani whereas they are offering me only Rs200,000 for my land piece. If they can’t compensate for our valuable lands, they should go elsewhere,” Dangol, a local teacher, who stands to lose 40 ropanis of land to the expressway project.

Khokana has been the hotspot for five major development projects--expressway, Outer Ring Road, Bagmati Corridor, a Satellite City, and a high-tension transmission line.

“We don’t want the fast-track running through our land asseveral other projects are concentrated in the area. Where would we go if every megaproject comes here?

We will be ultimately displaced,” Dangol told the visiting lawmakers.

In May 2015, the government had fixed compensation amount at Rs150,000 for the land with no road connectivity and Rs200,000 for land plots having road connectivity while attaining the land for the project.

Ratna Man Tuladhar, a local of Bungamati, said the government was forcing the public to evict their own land where they have been staying for generations.

“Bungmati is not only a historical site, but also a religious and sacred place for Newars. Many festivals of Newars take place in Bungamati and Khokana,” said Tuladhar. “We are not looking up to the government for another decision, but we are looking

for justice.”

The Nepal Army is building the 76.2-km track that stretches from Khokana of Lalitpur to Nijgadh of Bara. Locals of both the places have accused the Nepal Army of occupying their land without providing compensation.

Mahendra Brahmacharya, a culture conservationist associated with Nepal Sanskritik Punarjaagaran Abhiyan, accused the NA of capturing land of indigenous people violating the national and international laws on protection of indigenous communities.

“This is not just land encroachment, but an attack on our culture. The security forces threatened us when we tried to plant paddy this season on our fields for which we have not been compensated,” Brahmacharya told the parliamentarians.

“We know the expressway is a national pride project. Culture and heritage is also national pride. How can we build one national pride project at the cost of another,” he added.

Nepal Majdoor Kisan Party lawmaker Prem Suwal told the Post that with so many major project based in their locality, locals were disgruntled.

Published: 02-11-2018 07:54

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