HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Amid tight security, government bulldozers resumed the demolition of illegal structures along the Lazimpat-Golfutar road section today, despite a protest from the local people that led to a brief detention of eight demonstrators.
Eight bulldozers and excavators pressed on with the demolition as part of the joint initiative of the Kathmandu Valley Town Development Authority, Metropolitan Traffic Police Division, Department of Roads and Kathmandu Metropolitan City to broaden the roads.
The broad-road initiative on the five-km stretch had been halted since April 13 after agitated local residents pressing for compensation for damages clashed with riot police personnel.
Officials said they only razed temporary structures built on encroached public land and spared permanent structures -- houses and commercial buildings.
"What we razed were unauthorised temporary structures, including compound walls, pavements and garages adjacent to main houses and commercial buildings," Engineer Bhaikaji Tiwar of the KVTDA informed.
With hundreds of riot cops deployed on the road, women and elderly, too feeble to resist the demolition, wept bitterly, while in some places agitating families clashed with police.
DIG Ganesh Raj Rai, MTPD in-charge, said today's drive would have demolished as many as 318 houses and commercial buildings had the government enforced the law strictly. "We spared permanent structures in accordance with the order of the Prime Minister and request of concerned people to ensure minimum damage to private property during the road expansion drive," he informed.
Traffic cops had blocked vehicular movement from Lainchour to Sital Niwas, the President's Office, throughout the day in view of the demolition campaign.
In keeping with an agreement to minimise the damage to private property on the road, government authorities are widening the stretch by nine metres on either side of the road from the centre, though the original plan was to widen the stretch by 11 metres on either side.
DIG Rai said the road expansion in keeping with a notice published on Nepal Gazette on July 4, 1977, has set house costruction criteria on the roadside. The government has pledged compensation for structures built before the gazette notice. Officials said they have expanded about 45- km stretch since the initiative began five months ago.