Valley Outer Ring Road project runs aground

Valley Outer Ring Road project runs aground

The proposed Outer Ring Road project in the Kathmandu valley faces an uncertain fate due to land acquisition disputes and higher compensation demanded by locals for their property.

Six years ago, the government had proposed paying Rs 700,000 per ropani as compensation. The landowners have now quoted a price 10 times higher than the rate fixed by the government originally.

The project has been stalled since 2008 due to disputes between landowners and the government over compensation. The government had planned to construct the road in 2004 in a bid to ease the valley’s growing traffic problem.

“We want a fair compensation of our land, and it should be in line with fresh market values,” said Rabi Prasad Khanal, a local of Sitapaila.

Landowners claimed that the project did not consult them about land values and relocating them. The project is expected to displace hundreds of families. In 2008, the government had attempted to conduct land pooling on a 6.68-km stretch extending from Chobhar to Satungal. But only 14 percent of the landowners agreed to provide their land. The proposed road will be 72 km long and 50 m wide and enclose the valley’s three cities following the foot of the surrounding hills.

Project Chief Rama Maya Manandhar said that the government was ready to pay Rs 700,000 per ropani as compensation. As a large number of houses would have to be bulldozed to make way for the road, we are yet to decide whether to provide compensation to the owners or relocate them to other places.

The government plans to acquire the land required for the road by enforcing the Land Acquisition Act or through land adjustment or pooling, according to the project. The act allows the government to forcefully acquire any piece of land by paying fair compensation if it is in the public interest.

Under the land pooling option, the government can shift the property owners elsewhere for a temporary period and bring them back to their original locations once the project is completed.

As the Town Development Act requires the consent of 51 percent of the landowners before the government can take over their land for construction projects, locals have refused to give up their property without adequate compensation.

A Detailed Project Report for a 32-km section has been completed which includes feasibility study, townscape design and intersection development in the proposed project areas.

In July 2004, Nepal and China had signed a memorandum of understanding to develop the project. “China was interested in constructing the project, but it did not say anything about the financial part whether it would be a grant or a loan,” said Suresh Prakash Acharya, spokesperson of the Ministry of Urban Development.

The project has not moved ahead since then after getting entangled in land acquisition disputes. “The project has reached a state of uncertainty now as we don’t know how many years it will take for it to move ahead,” Manandhar said. The proposed Outer Ring Road was estimated to cost Rs 5 billion 10 years ago. It passes through 40 VDCs and three municipalities in the valley.

Source: eKantipur