‘Occupy Tundikhel’ activists submit letter of demand to city officeHeritage lovers and conservationists have long decried the authorities’ inaction to reclaim Tundikhel ground which is shrinking due to encroachment.
Heritage conservationists and locals reached the Kathmandu Metropolitan City’s office on Monday to appeal to the local authority to preserve Tundikhel, as part of the ongoing Mukta Tundikhel campaign.
They submitted a letter of demand to Mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya through the administrative chief of the city office Nawaraj Dhakal.
“We had informed the mayor’s office on Sunday regarding our delegation. But he was not at his office on Monday. It seems he is not concerned about the Tundikhel encroachment,” said Ganapati Lal Shrestha, one of the campaigners. “As an elected official, it is his duty to preserve Tundikhel.”
Section 11 of the Local Level Governance Act 2074 BS (2017) states that the local government is responsible for the protection and preservation of public property. The act also allows local authorities to remove illegal structures from public spaces.
“If only the metropolitan office had acted on time, there would be no encroachment of Khulla Manch,” said Sanjay Adhikari, a student at the Kathmandu Law Campus.
Alok Siddhi Tuladhar, one of the initiators of the Mukta Tundikhel campaign, explained to city officials how Tundikhel had been encroached and fragmented various times in the past.
Administrative chief Dhakal said the metropolitan city will remove the debris piled up in the southern part of Tundikhel and construction materials of Durbar High School and Bir Hospital that are kept in Khulla Manch.
“It is the city’s responsibility to preserve such open spaces. I will put forward these issues to Mayor Shakya,” said Dhakal. He further said the city office will soon move the bus park from Khulla Manch to Old Buspark and will hold consultations to revoke the agreement with Jaleshwor Swachhanda Boki Builders, the contractor of the Kathmandu View Tower project. The company had illegally constructed 52 structures in Khulla Manch to lease on rent. However, after widespread criticism, the metropolitan office and the District Administration Office in Kathmandu had demolished the structures.
Although Mayor Shakya was conspicuously absent from his office, Deputy Mayor Hari Prabha Khadgi was there to show her commitment to preserving Tundikhel.
“Tundikhel belongs to 30 million people. It’s the only open space in the Valley. We will consult with Nepal Army officials to reclaim the land it has occupied in Tundikhel,” Khadgi said.