Squatters protest in Kathmandu against ultimatum to vacate their settlementAs many as 34,096 families are residing on the banks of Bagmati currently, according to government data.
Squatters living on the banks of Bagmati River marched from Maitighar to New Baneshwar on Thursday, protesting against an ultimatum issued by the High Powered Committee for Integrated Development of Bagmati Civilisation to vacate their riverside settlements.
The demonstration comes three days ahead of the elections for the House of Representatives and provincial assemblies.
The demonstrators displayed banners and placards with slogans such as ‘guarantee basic human rights,’ ‘sustainable development can’t happen without humans,’ and ‘you can’t kill the poor’.
The committee, formed under the Ministry of Urban Development with aims to make Bagmati a “pollution-free river”, had published a notice on Friday with a 10-day ultimatum to clear the Bagmati corridor of settlements.
“Earlier also we had published a notice in Gorkhapatra twice, asking them to clear up,” said Uddab Prasad Timalsena, executive chairman of the committee.
“These settlements have caused problems for cleaning the Bagmati, laying sewage channels and they have polluted the river. Riverbanks are not the place for their settlement.”
He said the committee will take further action after November 20, the deadline given to the squatters to relocate.
As many as 34,096 squatter families are currently residing on the banks of Bagmati River, according to the committee.
The committee’s move is not the first of its kind. The committee and the Kathmandu Metropolitan City terrorised the settlements in 2017. Earlier, in May 2012, the Baburam Bhattarai-led government had demolished 251 squatter huts in Thapathali deploying over 1,000 security personnel. Aiming to relocate the squatters, the government had then built a settlement at Ichangunarayan in Nagarjuna, spending Rs230 million. The project proved to be a disaster as nobody really moved in.