Bhaktapur revenue staff ‘most corrupt’

  • national vigilance centre report
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Jun 24, 2018-Delays in settling protracted disputes between landowners and tillers over sharing of land have led to corruption and irregularities in Land Revenue Offices, a recent National Vigilance Centre (NVC) study says.

The NVC study done on Bhaktapur district says many service seekers complain of coercion to give bribes to get their work done, especially those related prolonged disputes between landowners and tillers.

The NVC report says Land Revenue Office staff seeks bribes even after service seekers submit all required documents. The staff often delay official task citing laws and regulations.

“The staff has a tendency to dilly dally on the pretext of laws and regulations. There is often political influence which results in one seeking to protect the interest of either the tiller or the land owner,” the report says.

According to NVC report, there is poor record of clearance on cases regarding dispute between the tillers and landowners in Bhaktapur. From the 3,331 applications as of May 31, 2018, combining current fiscal years’ applications and those carried from previous years, only 594 cases were settled. Incredulously, various officials did not settle one application for 23 years. With the landowner and tiller seeking land from certain part, settlement has been complicated in some cases.

NVC Spokesperson Bishnu Raj Lamichhane said, “Due to the back log of complaints pending for years, the possibility of the government staff seeking bribes to settle disputes has grown.

The NVC initiated study on Bhaktapur district after the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority arrested some government staff from Bhaktapur-based Land Revenue Office on charges of receiving graft to settle such disputes.

A study done by the NVC earlier had also stated land revenue offices in Kathmandu valley are most corruption-prone government agencies. Ditto is the conclusion of Transparency International Nepal (TI-Nepal)’s study in 2016 that showed service seekers in Nepal are compelled to pay the maximum amount of bribes at the land revenue offices to settle land-related matters.

According to NVC report on Bhaktapur, there are number of the problems that cause delays in settling disputes between the tillers and the landowners.

Lack of clarity on addresses of the landowners and tillers, freezing of some lands due to cap on land ownership, tiller delaying settling of disputes if he or she resides on the disputed land, and sometimes landowners not showing interest in settling the issue of sharing land are some of the reasons for the delays in settling disputes.

According to the land laws, landowner and tiller get equal share, but Kathmandu Valley Development Authority deciding to prevent fragmentation of land below five anna has sharing of lands. Thus, 166 applications for sharing of land between the two sides are in a limbo. It shows there is conflicting legal provision that affects the settlement of land disputes, the report says.

High land prices in the valley, various decisions and memos issued by the government further complicate the situation. Land Reform Work Directive sys that the government should fix deadlines to settle disputes over sharing of land between the two sides through a notice published in the Nepal Gazette.

Such a directive on settling disputes through a notice published in gazette gave space to groups with interests to misuse it and created situations for irregularities, says the report.

The report suggests ending the current practice of sharing of land by issuing a notice from the government, but ensuring permanent mechanism.

Published: 24-06-2018 07:25

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