Govt to file review petition against land compensation verdict

Kathmandu, August 5

The government is preparing to file a review petition against the recent decision of the Supreme Court regarding acquiring individual land for road expansion projects.

The Department of Roads (DoR) and Kathmandu Valley Development Authority (KVDA) are preparing the necessary files to submit them to the line ministry - Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport - and the Office of Attorney General for the purpose.

On June 28, the Supreme Court had upheld that the government can acquire land from individuals for public use but it must duly compensate the affected parties prior to acquiring the land.

The apex court upheld this in full texts of the verdict delivered in a case filed by 47 locals against the government's decision to expand Tribhuvan Highway from Kalanki to Nagdhunga without first paying compensation to the affected parties. The government had decided to expand the road by three metres on either side.

“We are preparing the documents regarding the recent decision passed by SC. If the government has to pay full compensation to all the affected people for the land acquisition process beforehand then it will be impossible as the total budget allocated per fiscal year for such projects will fall direly short,” said Sanjaya Kumar Shrestha, deputy director general at DoR.

DoR and KVDA are at present compiling data separately on the number of people who will be affected by the land acquisition process as both authorities are responsible for different projects. “The apex court's decision will affect the whole process of development of Kathmandu Valley as well as the country,” he added.

According to Shrestha, the SC's decision is against the Land Acquisition Act 1977. Section 12 of the act mentions that land can be acquired by the local officer of the concerned area at any time for development projects by publishing a notice and initially paying only 50 per cent compensation to the affected people. The remaining compensation amount can be paid later. However, after land has been acquired the local officer must notify the concerned government authorities about it.

The 50 per cent compensation is provided to the affected people to enable them to shift residence.

“Hence, the Supreme Court's verdict is directly against the Land Acquisition Act and we believe that SC will review its decision,” Shrestha stated. He further said that the Kalanki-Nagdhunga road expansion project has been stalled due to that decision.

Similarly, Keshav Neupane, spokesperson for KVDA, said that the authority has to and will respect the SC's decision but it is going to adversely affect the development process.

The SC while delivering its decision had said expanding roads without paying full compensation to the affected parties before their land is acquired would violate their right to property, so in this situation we will not be able to carry forward any road extension projects until the SC review its decision and grants us a favourable verdict, Neupane stated.