Call for land rights in statute

- POST REPORT, Lalitpur
Call for land rights in statute

Jul 16, 2015-

While the Constituent Assembly (CA) is busy collecting suggestions on the constitution draft from people across the country, land rights activists, experts and a section of lawmakers have demanded that the Land Act of 1994 and Land Use Policy of 2012 should be amended based on a geological study.

In a seminar held in Lalitpur on Thursday, panelists urged the CA to include land rights in the constitution itself and ensure equitable access of all classes, genders and communities to land. Stating that the failure to categorise land according to its use and on the basis of scientific and reliable data was the biggest problem, they said the proposed National Reconstruction Authority should work on the basis of land use plans and scientific land management.

Speaking at the programme, land expert Jagat Basnet highlighted a number of flaws in the constitution draft. He pointed out that the draft talks of providing land to landless Dalits but is silent on the quantity of land and a timeframe for the undertaking.

He also cautioned that more than 400,000 labourers can be deprived of a share of land they had been tilling for years owing to faulty provisions in the Land Act. The worst problem in the statute draft, according to Basnet, is to exempt private Guthis from any legal provisions.

Janak Raj Joshi, under secretary at the Ministry of Land Reform and Management, suggested the CA to not only define rights to land but also to impose certain restrictions and allocate responsibility to owners.

He said such move will promote optimum use of land, maintain competitive land use and avoid conflicts. He also highlighted the need for a managed real estate market which is transparent and does not encourage speculation.

Lawmaker Gopal Dalit said the government should come up with reliable data on freed Kamaiyas, ploughmen and squatters in the country and delegate land powers to federal provinces. Former Minister Rakam Chemjong said the issues of indigenous nationalities and Janajatis cannot entirely be solved only by providing them land. He said more than 500,000 people need to be provided with land if generous land reform policies are carried out by the government and that such measures will only create more problems.

Chief of Mission of International Organisation for Migration Thomas Sinkovits said, “Land is a key motivator for migration and land distribution pattern results in migration of low-income people. In Nepal, land issues are enduring contentious matter and if not addressed soon, it will hamper sustainable peace.”

The seminar titled “Issues and Challenges on Land Policies in New Context” was jointly organised by the Ministry of Land Reform and Management, United National Development Programme, International Organisation for Migration and UN Habitat.

Published: 17-07-2015 07:51

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