Land tillers face difficulties in the absence of land certificatesThe tillers have been deprived of the government’s housing grant and loans to rebuild their homes.
Seventeen land tiller families of Sungbucha settlement in Bhimeshwor Municipality, Dolakha, are facing difficulties in establishing the ownership of the houses they rebuilt after the 2015 earthquake for lack of land ownership certificates. Many of the tillers who have spent generations tilling the same plot of land lost their land’s paperwork during the earthquake that destroyed their houses and properties.
Shanta Bahadur Thami, a local, said that he has been frequenting the District Land Revenue Office to issue a new land ownership certificate, but has been unsuccessful in getting one.
Three years ago, the government had started to collect the data of land tillers and had requested them to register applications in the land revenue office with their land owners’ names.
So far, 203 land tillers have filed applications in the District Land Revenue Office in Dolakha to claim the land they were tilling. Among them, 137 applications are waiting for approval.
Khadga Bahadur Karki of the land revenue office said the majority of people living in the settlements below Dolakha bazaar are land tillers.
“If they have a certificate of proof then they should receive their land ownership certificates. But we haven’t been able to look at the applications due to a shortage of employees in the Land Revenue Office,” Karki said.
According to land tillers, in the absence of a land ownership certificate, they haven’t been able to get loans to rebuild their houses or receive housing grant from the government.
Nir Bahadur Tamang, a ward member of Bhimeshwor Municipality-2, said that some landowners are willing to transfer the ownership of a share of the land that belongs to tillers as per the Land Act 1994.
“But the landowners have put forth a condition wherein the tillers must purchase the remaining land too. However, the rate at which the landowners are willing to sell the remaining plots is high and the tillers can’t afford to buy it off them,” said Tamang.
Meanwhile, landowners in Dolakha bazaar have their own complaints. According to them, they cannot transfer the land ownership of their ancestral lands to others without receiving anything in return.
“The tillers are supposed to provide us with a share of their agricultural produce or what they make upon selling the produce,” said Radha Krishna Shrestha, a resident of Dolakha bazaar.
However, some of the landowners said they are ready to give away their land to tillers if they come to an agreement.
“The land I have been cultivating for a long time belongs to somebody else,” Goma Thami, 58, said. “I have requested the local leaders and representatives of local units to help us time and again, but they only give us fake assurances.”
According to Thami, during elections, candidates of various political parties rally for the tillers’ rightful ownership of the land they till, but none of the elected party members make good on their promise.
Some parties had even included the problem of tillers on their election manifestos, said Nir Bahadur Tamang, a ward member of Bhimeshwor Municipality-2.
“But after the election, they forgot about the issue,” said Tamang.