Land encroachment rampant in Kailali

- GANESH CHAUDHARY, Kailali
Land encroachment rampant in Kailali

Oct 26, 2014-

The trend of encroaching on public land in the name of landless people and freed Kamaiya has gone rampant in the district. Laxman Kathayat, chief of the District Land Reform Office (DLRO), said that around 20,000 hectares of forest land have been encroached in the district so far. The District Forest Office said that the majority of encroached public land belongs to forests in the district. Local authorities say that people with power are encroaching on public land in the name of freed Kamaiyas and landless people while taking advantage of the drive being launched by various organisations to distribute public land to freed Kamaiyas.

Although the Landless Squatters’ Problem Resolution Commission formed by former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai registered about 44,000 families from Kailali district as landless people, the exact number of landless people in the district is still unknown, according to a source.

Local politicians assuring land encroachers that they will help them register encroached land under their names in return for votes during elections has also encouraged land encroachers, local people said.

Besides, various associations and organisations which claim to be working on behalf of the freed Kamaiyas, landless people and natural disaster victims encouraging people to encroach on public land is also a matter of grave concern, local resident Lal Bir Chaudhary said.

“Politicians are found to be using both their power and influence to freely distribute public land to their near and dear ones in the name of landless people,” he said.

Local people also talked about a growing trend of illegal squatters living in forest area temporarily in order to encroach the land over a period of time.

Members of the impoverished Badi community have encroached on public land at Balchaur in Baliya VDC and have been living there for the past nine years by setting up makeshift huts. The people from the community have been staging sit-ins in front of the District Administration Office and the District Land Revenue Office time and again, demanding that the land they have been living in should be registered under their names.

Local resident Arjun Badi said the Badi Community Support Committee working for their welfare had helped the community encroach on the land. “An NGO had provided the committee with Rs 30,000 to help Badi community to encroach on the land,” he claimed. Chandi Prasad Koirala, chief of the District Land Revenue Office, said that people are able to register public land under their names illegally owing to negligence of concerned authorities.

Meanwhile, DLRO chief Kathayat said that the office tasked to distribute public land to freed Kamaiyas has distributed around 1400 bighas of public land to the community it is meant for, so far.

Still, the government’s repeated efforts to evict land encroachers from public land have yielded no concrete results. Concerned authorities said that it is difficult to vacate encroached land without the support of political party leaders. Political leaders who express commitment to support the drive to evict illegal squatters from encroached land only in papers have made the matter even worse, they said. “While agreeing to implement the drive to evict squatters from public land, they (politicians) also secretly encourage land encroachers not to vacate the encroached land,” said Keshar Kunwar, chief of Tikapur Multiple Campus.

A meeting held earlier at the chairmanship of the Chief District Officer Bed Prakash Lekhak, who is also coordinator of the District Forest Encroachment Control and Management Task Force, had decided to evict land encroachers from the Basanta Conservation Forest Area. However, the decision is yet to be implemented due to refusal of Shashidhar Subedi, a UCPN (Maoist) representative in the task-force, to agree to implement the decision.

CDO Lekhak blamed concerned VDCs and municipalities, which are given responsibility to look after and conserve public land, for allowing people to live on ublic land by taking certain amounts from them as taxes. He said that ‘land mafias’ are also engaged in encroaching public and forest land, adding that failure to identify genuine landless people and freed Kamaiyas has only made the matter worse.

Published: 27-10-2014 09:11

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