Anti-graft body wants local governments to make policy to prevent illegal leasing of public school landsDifferent reports show encroachment of school lands is increasing across the country.
The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority has suggested local governments to make necessary policies to protect the lands of public schools, citing an increasing trend to lease such land parcels for commercial use through irregularities.
The national anti-graft body said there is a trend of renting or leasing playgrounds of the students to construct commercial buildings without fulfilling the due legal processes. The suggestions were issued to every authority that manages school education. As per schedule 8 of the Constitution of Nepal, it lies with the local governments. From hiring and firing teachers, protection of school property, curriculum development to the conduct of examinations comes under the ambit of the local governments, at present.
There is the encroachment of land and property of the public schools while there are also cases of leasing the land for years, destroying the playgrounds to erect commercial complexes, according to the commission. “The local governments, therefore, need to prepare a clear policy for the protection of such land,” read one of the suggestions.
Pradeep Koirala, spokesperson for the commission, said the suggestions were made based on the complaints of irregularities filed to the anti-graft body. “We cannot say there is corruption, but there is room to suspect,” said Koirala. “We have received different complaints to this effect.”
Different reports show encroachment and commercial use of the school land are increasing across the country, including in the Capital.
The decision of the school management committee of Madan Smarak School in Patan to lease the playground of the school land to erect a commercial complex has courted controversy. In July 2014, the management committee of the school decided to lease its 13 ropanis and one aana land to Valley Construction, a construction company, for Rs460,000 per annum. The company will erect a building and use it for 40 years before handing it back to the school as per the agreement. A case was filed against the decision at the commission and in the Supreme Court demanding the construction to stop and protect the public land. The matter is sub judice.
The field of the school, which is the place for emergency evacuation for people from ward 3 and 20 of Lalitpur Metropolitan City, is one among eighty-four areas identified by the government as public open space.
Similarly, Mahendra Adarsh Bidhyashram, Satdobato, leased its 12 ropanies of land to Jyapu Construction Company for 30 years, which pays Rs600,000 every year in return. A department store is running at the building constructed on this land.
Local government representatives say they are aware of the encroachment and are committed to stopping such practices in the future. “The leasing of the school’s property was done before our election,” Lalitpur Mayor Chiribabu Maharjan told the Post. “I would like to ensure that no such act gets repeated in the future.”