Commission gets less than expected complaints

Kathmandu, August 12

The high-level commission formed to investigate cases of land-grab and misuse of public land across the country has collected just over 120 complaints, which, the commission members say, is less than what they expected.

Of the total complaints received by the commission, most are related to grabbing or misuse of public land in the three districts of Kathmandu valley. Moreover, most of these cases are related to encroachment of government-owned, public and guthi land. The complaints involve grab and misuse of land areas ranging from a few annas to 200 ropanis.

The commission that began formal operations on June 3 has begun investigation the cases. A meeting of the Cabinet on May 20 had decided to form the all-powerful high-level commission led by Mohan Raman Bhattarai. Bhattarai said a few complaints were related to land-grab cases sub-judice in the courts, while others had already been settled through Supreme Court decisions. “The commission can do nothing about cases already finalised by the Supreme Court,” he said. “We are, however, studying the complaints.”

The commission relies on complaints filed by individuals, information fed by individuals and news reports. It has also issued a circular to all local levels, district administration offices and consumer committees to inform about cases of grabbing and misuse of public land.

The commission members said although complaints and information were coming in gradually every day, the number was less than what they expected considering the scale of media reportage.

Janaki Ballav Adhikari, a member of the commission, said this trend might be because of threat and intimidation involved in cases related to large-scale grab and misuse of public land, costs involved in reaching the commission for filing complaints, and confusion among people, among others.

“On the other hand, people seem to be on a wait and-see mode before the finalisation of the Baluwatar land-grab case,” Adhikari said.

A government-formed committee has concluded that 113 ropani public land in Baluwatar area was transferred in the names individuals illegally. It was revealed that an eight-anna plot within the embezzled land area was registered in the name of son of Bishnu Poudel, general secretary of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP). The matter is presently being investigated by the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority and the Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police.

Adhikari said since the commission had been mandated to submit its investigation report within six months and complaints were still coming in sporadically, they would soon submit a midterm report to the government of cases finalised so far.

“Even though the number of complaints is less than what we expected, the existing number is enough for the commission to work on given the resources available,” he said.