1,000 bighas of government land in Tulsipur, Dang have been taken over by illegal settlers: StudyNational Vigilance Centre says the land plots were captured with the backing from local political parties.
A group of people have captured around 1,000 bighas of government land where an industrial estate was being planned at Tulsipur Sub-Metropolitan City in Dang district, a probe conducted by National Vigilance Centre has revealed.
The land plots at Majgaun area along the Gwar stream in Ward 16 of Tulsipur were captured by some local villagers with the backing of local political leaders, officials at the centre and the city office said.
According to the centre, an anti-graft body under the Prime Minister’s Office, a group of people who claimed themselves to be landless had captured the plots a year ago, when a bridge on Gwar stream was completed.
The city authority had unsuccessfully tried to clear the land twice in the recent past, according to Tulsipur Deputy Mayor Maya Sharma.
On May 2, 2019, the Tulasipur Sub-Metropolitan City Executive had decided to establish an industrial estate on the land that covers Ward 2, 3, 10, 13 and 16. The plot in Ward 16 has been captured by locals.
“Many of those who have encroached the land had been farming at the bank of the stream for a long time,” said Sharma. “When the survey began for the bridge construction over the Gwar stream, some people started to claim ownership over some of the plots. After the local government decided to build the industrial zone, the land became valuable and people started erecting houses.”
Around 1,000 bighas of land were encroached upon by locals this way. The government land has not just been encroached upon illegally, some plots have been purchased and sold as well, according to the report.
The centre’s probe team was notified that even the member of the city executive, Deepak Kumal, had sold a plot to Lal Bahadur Sarki at Rs400,000.
In addition to Sarki, Ishwori Bhandari, Hukum Khadka and Lal Bahadur B.K, have also purchased encroached plots. The centre’s probe failed to determine who had sold them the land.
“As those who sold the land plots cannot provide land ownership certificates, they are selling the plots at half the market value,” said Deputy Mayor Sharma.
But the vigilance centre said that the concerned authorities were not found to be accountable when the land plots were being encroached upon, sold and bought.
On February 24, the centre decided to instruct the District Administration Office, Dang, and Tulasipur Sub-Metropolitan City to take measures to protect the public land from the encroachers, as they were responsible bodies for protecting the public land.
Dalnath Aryal, assistant spokesperson for the centre, said the encroachment of government land was possible due to political backing.
“It has been understood that they were encouraged to encroach the government land for political benefits,” he said.
According to Sharma, local leaders of different political parties are backing the encroachers. According to her, the local government has floated a proposal of distributing one kattha land each to landless families and prioritising employment for the people living on encroached land if they vacate the place. “But there has been no consensus on the matter yet,” Sharma said.
Some people accused of encroaching government land in Tulsipur have registered a complaint at the centre claiming that they, as landless people, should be allocated land.
“We cannot ask the concerned authorities to distribute government land to landless people,” said Aryal.
When the centre’s team visited the site of land encroachment recently, it found that the illegal settlers were building new homes there.
The Office of Auditor General last year stated in its report that Around 66,000 square metres of public land—belonging to seven government offices—have been encroached upon by individuals. The encroached plots of land have been used for private housing and other purposes, the auditing body said in its performance audit report for the fiscal year 2017-18.