Parliamentary panel calls for dev-friendly setting

- Post Report, Kathmandu
Land acquisition and compensation have been hindering the development of infrastructure projects

Jan 1, 2016-The parliamentary Development Committee on Thursday urged the general public to create a conducive environment for the development of infrastructure as many projects had encountered obstructions from locals.

Issues like right of way, land acquisition, compensation and social factors that are directly related to the general public have been hindering the development of infrastructure projects.“There is no alternative to development. The government as well as public stakeholders should come to a common ground to achieve development goals,” said Rabindra Adhikari, chairperson of the parliamentary committee.

On Thursday, the House panel had invited the stakeholders concerned with the development of the Kalanki-Nagdhunga road section. A range of issues like acquisition of land and the compensation amount demanded by the general public were deemed to be major obstacles in carrying out the project.

Bimal Shrestha, a member of the Kalanki-Nagdhunga Road Section Expansion Concern Committee, said that the government should not be stingy in compensating the landowners. He added that the land acquired from the locals would benefit a large section of the country’s population.

“We are not against development. But the government should give us appropriate compensation,” Shrestha said.The government has been working to expand the Tripureshwor-Nagdhunga road section to four lanes for the past few years. For this, the government aims to acquire 25 metres of land from the centre line on both sides.

A width of 25 metres has been stipulated for highways, and the government is allowed to acquire the necessary land as this road section is part of Tribhuvan Highway.

However, the Tripureshwor-Kalanki section falls within Kathmandu Metropolitan City where a different provision applies. “There is a loop in government policies, and we are being victimized by this. The government should treat every stakeholder equally,” said Nhuchhe Bahadur Shrestha, another concerned citizen.

There has been a debate over compensation issues as well. While the people have been claiming that the government should compensate them for their entire property when their land is acquired, officials said that most of the properties on the roadside had been built after a the compulsory acquisition notice was issued.

However, locals stressed that they had built houses on their land after getting the required building permits, and that they should be compensated for their losses. Government officials hold a different view and say that they cannot go beyond the directives.

“We really can’t make a decision to acquire less than 25 metres of land on the Kalanki-Nagdhunga section. We need to act in line with the directive, and that’s what we are doing,” said Madhav Kumar Karki, director general of the Department of Roads.

The road expansion project was started in fiscal 2006-07 in a bid to ease congestion on the main route into Kathmandu, but progress has been poor. Only 57 km out of 150 km have been widened, according to the department.   

Arjun Karki, secretary of the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, said that although there were several complications, the government could not step beyond the bounds of the legal framework.

“As for the properties which were cleared by the government, we can hold discussions and do something through a political agreement,” Karki said. He also stressed the need to develop a long-term blueprint of the road network in the Kathmandu Valley.

Published: 01-01-2016 08:52

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