A total of 4,000 houses have been constructed encroaching government land along the Bagmati corridor from Gokarna to Chobhar. Building settlements up to 20 meters from the banks has been prohibited but encroachment of land continues with the aim of getting it registered in one’s name.
Everyone from squatters to powerful persons have encroached land by the Bagmati river while temporary sheds to tall concrete buildings have also been built where many colleges are being operated. A minister-level decision in 2007 had set a boundary of 20 meters allowing the government to demolish buildings within that distance. The government plans to build gardens and parks by the side of Bagmati by demolishing such illegal settlements.
The government has taken pressure of different political parties and resistance by the locals as the major challenge in removing the settlements. The government has taken back 40 ropani of land by using police force until now. Squatters and others have still encroached more than 150 ropani of land from Gokarna to Balkhu. Most of the structures constructed in the encroached land are small sheds and they have been rented for commercial purpose including hotels and workshops.
The powerful Bagmati Civilization Integrated Development Committee authorized for conservation of Bagmati river has not been able to operate conservation programs in the encroached areas owing to political pressure and obstructions by locals. Engineer of the committee Rabindra Raya says designs have been prepared to construct roads along the banks of Bagmati and making Bagmati free of sewage, but there have been problems in lack of return of encroached land.
“Structures have been constructed in most of the areas while farming is being done in free space. We are building sewers from Buddhanagar to Balkhu but work had to be obstructed for some time after locals, who were doing farming in the encroached land, obstructed. Some projects also face uncertainty due to encroachment,” he reveals.
Former prime minister Dr Baburam Bhatatari had also faced obstruction from locals while trying to displace the settlement of squatters from Bagmati bank at Thapathali. Resettlement has started in the area that was cleared then. Surveyor at the survey department under the committee Kedar Prasad Dev says there are still 4,000 illegal houses and buildings along the banks of Bagmati built with political patronage, and adds that the committee is facing problems to clear the encroached land due to political pressure. He shares how locals vehemently opposed while starting construction of roads and sewerage system. He claims the committee is ready to demolish such structures if there were political baking.
35-day notice to VS and Pentagon
The committee has issued a 35-day notice to VS Niketan at Minbhawan and Pentagon College to clear encroached land by the Bagamti river. The committee has asked to immediately clear the land stating buildings have been constructed within 20 meters from the river. It has asked the duo to return five meters of land. It claims that HIST Himalayan College (Sinamangal) and Glacier International College are also being operated within 20 meters by encroaching land.