Local authorities are encroaching on Nepalgunj pondsSeveral wards of Nepalgunj Sub-metropolitan City have been building their offices on public land.
Several wards of Nepalgunj Sub-metropolis are found to be encroaching upon public lands to build their office buildings.
The legendary Bhawani Pond, spread over three katthas of land, until a few years ago was a site for garbage disposal. But instead of conserving the pond, the ward. 7 office of the metropolis has started constructing one of its offices and a health post on the pond’s land. But it’s not just the local unit that has encroached upon public land; the locals are doing it too.
The ward’s construction project recently ground to a halt after the locals protested against it, claiming that the land belonged to them, according to Ward Chair Jumman Khan.
“There is a dearth of public land in the ward, so we had no option than to use the land of the pond,” he said. “But after the locals’ protests, we were compelled to stop the project until next year.”
Meanwhile, the locals argue that the pond carries a rich history for them and its land should not be infringed upon.
But this is not the only pond that is being encroached. Bhawani Baag lake in Nepalgunj Ward No. 11 is now a shell of its former self, with its water covered with mud. Here, too, the ward office is constructing an office.
“We don’t need a lake in this place since we have plenty of others nearby,” said Mubarak Ali Siddiqui, a member of the ward. “Therefore, we are planning to construct an office building here, since the office is currently operating out of a rented flat.”
Besides these two, there are many other lakes in Banke that have turned into either private properties or dumping sites. According to Sachchinanda Chaube, Nepalgunj has seven lakes and 12 ponds.
“The rise in population and encroachment has made them shrink,” he said. “It would be great if we could save the remaining ones, but it seems unlikely.”
The Nepalgunj Sub-metropolis is committed to conserving its lakes and ponds, according to Mayor Dhawal Shumsher Rana. It has turned the Rani Pond, which was left unattended for years, into a tourist spot. Rana envisions a tourism boom if the sources of still water could be preserved, as has happened in Rani Pond, and blames the ward offices of encroachment. “The ward offices haven’t been serious in preserving the ponds and lakes,” he said.
But not all ward offices have been careless. Like Rani, Dhobi pond in Ramnagar in Nepalgunj-6 has also undergone a facelift. The pond, spread over six katthas of land, was renovated with Rs1 million, according to Samir Pratap Singh, ward chair. “We are seeking more funds from the government to beautify the lake further,” said Singh. “The lake would not only attract tourists but also be beneficial to local farmers for irrigation.”
Rupa Gahatraj contributed reporting.