KATHMANDU, July 11
Large swathes of land along the Bagmati River banks have been encroached upon by squatters, vendors and locals who have constructed illegal structures on the banks.
The government has prohibited construction of any structure within 20 meters on the either side of the banks of the Bagmati River, but illegally built structures have been dotting the area.
According to a rough survey conducted by the High Power Committee for Integrated Development of Bagmati Civilisation, more than 4,000 illegal structures have been constructed along the riverbanks between Gokarna and Chobhar.
Rabindra Ray, an engineer at the HPCIDBC, said that the squatters and vendors are less likely to vacate the banks and pull down their illegal settlement unless government comes up with an alternative location for them, some of whom are said to have constructed concrete houses.
The HPCIDBC has so far managed to claim 40 ropanis of land with the help of political parties, police and locals.
Over 150 ropanis of land along the riverbanks within 20 meters of the river on either sides from Gokarna and Balkhu are still dotted with illegal settlements.
“The houses, walls, shops and sheds, and portion thereof constructed within 20 metres have been marked red for the demolition. The occupiers have been asked to vacate before their illegal structures are demolished by the authorities,” Ray informed.
Besides illegal structures, locals and alleged squatters have been using the riverbanks for farming as well, obstructing the government efforts to carry out development projects, including plantation of trees along the banks as part of the city beautification project.
“The stakeholders have not been able to construct parks, gardens, gabion walls, sewage systems, road and water treatment plants,” he said, adding the occupiers usually obstruct the development projects.
Bharat Prasad Acharya, a sociologist at HPCIDBC, said he was worried about the safety of the squatters on the riverbanks during monsoon. The squatters are at constant risk of losing their lives and property to floods.
“The best option for the safety of the squatters is to evacuate them from the riverbanks. The HPCIDBC will not be responsible for any loss or damage caused to them by water-induced disasters,” he warned.
A version of this article appears in print on July 12, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.