Road authorities to clear encroached land along Bhimdatta HighwayHundreds of houses and huts have been built encroaching upon the area near highway that links the hill districts of Sudurpaschim Province to Dadeldhura.
The federal government’s Road Monitoring and Evaluation Office in Kulpate has issued a notice to evict encroachers and recover encroached public land on either side of the Bhimdatta Highway from Syaule to Old Pokhara bazaar.
The office also has invited a tender to expand the 3-km road stretch from Syaule to Bagbazaar in Amargadhi Municipality.
Hundreds of permanent houses and huts have been built encroaching upon the main area near highway that links the hill districts of Sudurpaschim Province to Dadeldhura. Small markets and settlements have sprouted up along the 10-12km stretch between Syaule and Old Pokhara bazaar.
Jaya Bahadur Air, a resident of Amargadhi who operates an eatery near the highway in Syauli bazaar, said they were not encroachers and that they had been living in the area for more than two decades. “The municipality has been ordering us to clear the public land time and again. But we haven’t been forced this way before,” said Jaya Bahadur. “The authority concerned should give us options to relocate.”
A week ago, the Road Monitoring and Evaluation Office published a notice in local newspapers and asked settlers to leave 25 metres of open space on either side of the highway within 15 days. The notice stated action against the settlers on the basis of Public Roads Act 1974 if they deny evicting the public land within the provided time frame. The office has allocated Rs100 million for the expansion of the road from Syaule and Old Pokhara bazaar.
Bisheshwor Ojha, mayor of Amargadhi Municipality, said they had started the process to clear the settlers from Syaule and Bagbazaar area in the first phase. “We will start road expansion works in the Bagbazar and Kinmade area in the second phase,” he said.
According to him, the federal government has approved the municipality’s request to expand the road from Syaule to Old Pokhara bazaar.
“The settlers have been demanding compensation and relocation to a safer place. Some of these settlements were built before land mapping of the highway,” said Harka Bahadur Air, a local of Amargadhi. He added that the authority concerned should understand the situation of the settlers and provide them compensation, if necessary. But he also stressed the necessity of the expansion of the road to minimise road accidents. “The area has been witnessing traffic jams and the number of road accidents has become more frequent since the establishment of the market places along the roadside,” he said.