Birgunj locals demand early compensation settlementThe landowners of Sirsiya say the government held their land to expand the area of the dry port six years ago, but they have not received any compensation yet.
Locals have staged a sit-in protest at the main gate of the Sirsiya dry port in Birgunj, demanding compensation for the land that the authority has held back preparatory to acqusition.
The protests began on Monday.
The landowners of Birgunj-25, Sirsiya, said that the government has held their land for the past six years for acquisition, but they have not received any compensation yet.
The government decided to obtain 41 hectares of land located between Sirsiya Dry Port and the Integrated Check Post (ICP) in Birgunj.
Baijanti Mala, one of the landowners, said she has not been able to use her land.
“Without the income which I used to make from the land, I could not arrange the finances for my children's education and treatment.”
"The authority has to provide the compensation, at the earliest. We cannot tolerate any further,” Mala said. “The government cannot keep us in the dark. I am waiting for the compensation to construct a new home.”
Meanwhile, Jai Bahadur Bhandari, chief of Birgunj Customs Office, said the agitating landowners have withdrawn their protest after they were assured that the issue would be brought to the notice of the Ministry of Finance.
In June last year, compensation was distributed to some landowners. But, later, it stopped.
Kewal Chaudhary, an official at the dry port customs, said the compensation distribution was stopped after the Ministry of Finance did not release the funds.
So far, only 28 hectares have been acquired. The locals have already been provided Rs4 billion as compensation.
Chaudhary said 13 hectares are left to be acquired, which may cost Rs2.8 billion.
Apart from this, the compensation for houses, trees, and ponds that come under acquisition is yet to be estimated.
The dry port has been operated for two decades while the integrated check post came into operation four years ago. The government planned to acquire land observing that the existing areas have become congested with the rising trade activities.
Currently, about 3,000 freight trucks are making daily movement from both customs posts.
The government first started the land acquisition process in January 2017.