Tribunal to fast-track land acquisition

  • mega infrastructure projects
- PRITHVI MAN SHRESTHA, Kathmandu
Tribunal to fast-track land acquisition

Jul 19, 2015-The government is considering setting up a tribunal to fast-track land acquisition and compensation distribution for mega infrastructure projects.

Most of the national pride projects and national priority projects, including the Kathmandu-Nijgadh Fast-Track raod, Mid-Hill Highway, 132KV Thankot-Chapagaun-Bhaktapur Tranmission line, Kabeli corridor, Shikta Irrigation Project, are facing land acquisition-related problems.

The budget for fiscal year 2015-16 states a neutral mechanism will be established that can take decision swiftly for land acquisition and compensation distribution at mega projects by reforming existing laws.

Finance Secretary Suman Sharma said the ministry was planning a tribunal which will take fast-track decisions regarding complaints of the locals over land acquisition.

“The tribunal will not stop the land acquisition process, but see whether the locals’ complaints are reasonable,” said Sharma, adding such a provision would be made by amending existing laws or introducing new laws.

Introduction of a new law on land acquisition is one of reforms agenda in the budget. The budget has declared the new fiscal year as “Budget Implementation Year”, and to make it a success, fast-tracking mega infrastructure projects is a must.

The Ordinance on Reconstruction of Earthquake-affected Structure has also provisioned a similar fast-track mechanism so that the National Reconstruction Authority could work without obstructions over the land acquisition-related issues.

The ordinance has provisioned the existing laws would not be applicable in land acquisition, land registration, public procurement and environmental impact assessment for the reconstruction of quake-damaged infrastructure.

The reconstruction authority has been authorised to implement plans through a working procedure. However, the ordinance has also provisioned a separate tribunal—Appellate Committee—to be headed by current or former judge of the Appellate Court to hear complaints the authority’s works.

Sharma said fast-track clearance of land acquisition and environmental related issues was necessary even for big infrastructure projects that were affected by the earthquake as they have the potential to boost the country’s economy notably.

Given many projects facing hurdles for the delay in permission to cut down trees, the budget has stated the process of environmental impact assessment of the projects will be simplified further. “Environment and development will be taken as supplementary, not rivals,” states the budget.

Meanwhile, government has announced a number of measures to make the “Budget Implementation Year” a success. One of the unique plans announced in the budget is to appoint project chiefs from outside the government service.

According to the budget, a policy would be adopted to select highly professional and technical skilled manpower from government institutions and the private sector on competition basis for National Pride and large-scale prioritised projects by offering competitive remuneration based on performance.

“I expect it will be a respectful opportunity for Nepalese experts residing abroad to return to the homeland and involve in development work,” Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat said, presenting the budget last week.

Jagadish Chandra Pokharel, former vice-chairman of National Planning Commission (NPC), termed taking qualified human resources from outside the government service “a good idea”, but said he was not sure whether the current laws would allow doing so.

However, Finance Secretary Sharma said none of the laws prevent the government from taking services from the people outside the government service.

“As the budget, once endorsed, is itself a law, the government can take qualified human resources from outside,” he said. However, the first priority will be given to officials from the government services.”

Published: 20-07-2015 08:24

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