Mass migration leaving Kuruletenupa in Dhankuta empty of peopleNatives of the villages are moving to other cities in search of better facilities, selling their land at a low price to outsiders.
Natives of several settlements of Kuruletenupa in Chaubise Rural Municipality, Dhankuta, have moved to other districts in search of better facilities and easier lives in the last one-and-a-half decades. This rapid migration has left many villages in Kurulerenupa empty.
Gopi Krishna Bhandari, a local of Kuruletenupa, said residents of wards 3 and 4 have migrated to Dhankuta bazaar, Jhapa, Morang and Sunsari, among other Tarai districts. “Most of the settlements in Kuruletenupa, which falls under wards 3 and 4 of Chaubise Rural Municipality, are vacant now.”
Jitman Gimi, the chief administrative officer of Chaubise Rural Municipality, said hundreds of ropanis of cultivable land in the local unit are barren, as most villagers have migrated out.
According to the data of the rural municipality, in the last 14 years, over 300 families have moved out of wards 3 and 4.
Out of the total 886 families in Kuruletenupa, half the population have already migrated from their settlements.
“More than 100 households from the then Kuruletenupa VDC Ward No. 1, over 45 households from Ward No. 8 and 35 households from Ward No. 4 have moved to other places,” said Gimi.
In the last three years alone, 198 people from Chaubise Rural Municipality migrated to other parts of the country, the record of the rural municipality showed.
“But these were just the recorded numbers. Many more households might have migrated to other parts of the country without informing the rural municipal office in the same period,” he said.
“People are leaving since the villages do not have basic facilities like drinking water and proper sanitation. The authorities had started some development projects in the villages but this did not stop the outward migration. The projects are incomplete and people are still moving out,” said Rishiram Bhandari, the headmaster at Janasewa Basic School in Kuruletenupa. “Almost all the houses in Bajthala and Andheri villages are empty now. Ninety percent of other villages are also empty. If this continues, Kuruletenupa will be deserted in the next few years.”
Keshav Kafle, a local, said, “Most of our neighbours moved away from the settlement in search of better lives and facilities. A majority of them have migrated to Dhankuta bazaar and other city areas. That’s why my family also moved to Morang.”
Another local, Gopi Krishna Bhandari, blames the migration on the local unit’s inability to develop the area and on the “land mafias”.
“The local unit hasn’t done enough to stop the migration. The land mafias came in and took advantage of the situation,” he said.
According to him, outsiders have been purchasing land plots in Kuruletenupa at low prices.
“The land plots are being sold at around Rs 3,000 to Rs 10,000 per ropani. The middlemen convince the villages that it’s a good price and encourage them to sell their land to land mafias,” said Bhandari.
Balananda Bhurtel of Dharan says he, along with two other people, purchased a plot of land in Kuruletenupa with the intention to start agro farming.
“We registered an agro company and purchased land plots in Kuruletenupa. But my two partners pulled out so I haven’t been able to do much on the land we bought,” Bhurtel said.
Bhurtel’s group had purchased 400 ropanis of land in Kuruletenupa seven years ago.
However, Kajindra Rai, chairman of the rural municipality, said, “The rural municipality cannot stop locals from selling their land. It’s their property and sales are being done individually.”
But, according to him, the rural municipality has launched various development activities and has started to provide government services to the locals to stop the outmigration.
“The situation was different in the past but now there’s electricity supply and rural roads connect the villages to the cities. We are working on setting up a drinking water project. There is also a health post, school and ward office in Kuruletenupa,” said Rai. “There is no need to move out from here.”