Quake-displaced families say they were cheated during land distributionThe land plots handed over to the quake survivors in Helambu, Sindhupalchok, fall in the middle of a busy road.
The Community Self-Reliance Centre (CSRC), an NGO working in the post-earthquake reconstruction area, had facilitated the purchasing of a land to resettle displaced quake-displaced families in Helambu, Sindhupalchok, three years after the 2015 disaster.
The Helambu Ward No. 2 Office had recommended the organisation to purchase the land for six displaced families. However, the land plots meant for house construction fall under the area of Helambu-Chitre road.
During the handover of the land deeds, the beneficiaries, most of them illiterate, were asked to use their thumb prints to verify their documents, said Murali Bishwokarma, an earthquake survivor.
“According to the papers, I have sufficient land to construct a house but when I went to see the land, it was hardly two annas big,” he said.
Bishwokarma and his family have been living in a temporary hut since the earthquake of April 25, 2015.
“We have been living in this crude shack for years now. I didn’t want my family to spend another winter here. My plan to build a new house looks impossible now,” said Bishwokarma.
The CSRC had purchased two ropanis and six annas of land at Rs 1.2 million to resettle quake survivors. But most of the land falls inside the periphery of the road. Initially, the displaced families were excited after receiving the land ownership certificates but when they went to visit the land plots they were shocked to see that the land handed over to them by the ward chairman was in fact in the middle of a busy road.
Like Bishwokarma, five other quake victims complain of being cheated in the same way.
“We came to know about the swindling only after we reached the area,” said Bishwokarma. “It’s unfortunate that people feel free to cheat us. We had put our trust in the ward chairman when we signed our land ownership certificates. My hopes of moving into a safe and permanent structure have been shattered,” he said.
Bharat BK, who was also displaced by the earthquake, said that the local unit was pressuring earthquake-displaced families to construct houses at the earliest. “But the land given to us is only just enough to construct a toilet. The local unit wants us to build our houses so that they can show positive results on paper. The reality is different,” he said.
The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) provides Rs 200,000 each to the displaced families to purchase land. Kumar Thapa, the district coordinator of the CSRC, said they had purchased the land plot only after receiving ward office’s recommendation. He said, “Tsering Gyalbu Lama, ward chairman of Helambu Ward No. 2, had approved the land plot saying that there’s no dispute over the land.”
The Post tried to contact the ward chairman but he was not available for comment.
Sujan KC, an official of the District Project Implementation Unit of the NRA in the district, said that the ward chairman is to be held accountable for this case of dupery. According to him, the process of handing over land deeds to the earthquake victims can only be initiated after approval of all papers by the ward chairman. The ward chairman’s office then sends a recommendation letter to the concerned authority.
The earthquake survivors have filed an application in the Helambu Rural Municipal Office demanding land plots big enough to build their homes on.
Nimagyalgen Sherpa, chairman of the rural municipality, said that they have called District Land Revenue Officer, technicians, representatives of the NGO and people’s representatives to hold a discussion. “But they have not arrived yet,” said Sherpa, informing that the rural municipal office will take initiatives to solve the problem.