Siraha District Administration Office evicts illegal settlers along East-West HighwayMore than 500 huts—which functioned as eateries—had been built on either side of the highway.
The District Administration Office in Sarlahi has started the eviction of illegal settlers living on encroached public land along the East-West Highway.
Houses, temporary structures or shanties, built on encroached land on either side of the highway, spanning 42 kilometres from Bandipur to Lahan, had started to turn into permanent structures a few years ago.
The administration has coordinated with the local units (Lahan, Golbazaar, Mirchaiya and Karjanha Municipalities) to recover the land along the highway (Bandipur to Lahan in Siraha). Gopal Kumar Adhikari, chief district officer, said they have started the eviction to curb rampant encroachment. “We have to evict settlers from the highway area due to the increased pressure of vehicles along the road,” said Adhikari. An increase in human traffic along the highway has led to an increase in road accidents in the area, according to Adhikari.
More than 500 huts have been constructed in the highway area. These huts have primarily been set up to conduct businesses like running eateries and shops, and the area has begun to resemble a small busy bazaar. Preferring anonymity, one of the settlers said they had been running their businesses (fruit shops, eateries, hotels among others) along the highway area for the last 15 years and had never been asked to move. “The authorities destroyed our shops and houses without providing any alternatives to us. We have been living here for so many years and now we have been asked to move,” he said.
According to the provision of the Department of Roads, it is illegal to build a structure 25 metres on either side of the East-West Highway. But the immediate vicinity of the East-West Highway has turned into bustling settlements in the last few years.
Fifteen days ago, the local units had informed settlers (who had constructed houses, huts and shops among others within 25 metres of the highway) to move away from the area. After settlers refused to follow the orders, the administration used bulldozers to demolish the huts and houses starting Tuesday.
Authorities said that it will take at least seven days to remove illegal houses and huts, among other infrastructure, from the highway.
Devnath Sah, mayor of Golbazaar Municipality, said that they are also going to manage weekly markets (which operate near the highway). “We have also imposed a ban on storing construction materials (pebbles, sand, among others) along the road area,” said Sah, adding that the highway area will be cleared within seven days.