LALITPUR: The Empowered High Level Committee on Bagmati Civilisation and Integrated Development (EHLCBCID) today evicted about 30 families, who had encroached upon 50 ropanis of land owned by the government at Shankhamul on the banks of Bagmati River.
The families had illegally been occupying the land for the last 30 years and were growing vegetables on the encroached land. The government had made several attempts to prevent the encroachment but to no avail.
“This is our first attempt to reclaim the government land, occupied by squatters,” said Mahesh Bahadur Basnet, chairman of the EHLCBCID, which was formed about a year ago. The local residents, youth clubs, political parties, civil societies and guthi sansthan contributed a lot to the government initiative in removing the illegal settlements, he said.
“The move that we have initiated is a warning to other encroachers that they should vacate the land they have occupied,” he said.
The 30 families who had been illegally dwelling in the government land have been held responsible for polluting the surroundings of the Bagmati, according to Somendra Newa, president of the Bagmati Sewa Kendra.
“We have fully cooperated with the government to restore the pride and glory of the Bagmati River,” he added. An estimated 500 local women and other stakeholders took part in the evacuation.
“We want to breathe life into the Bagmati again. Thus, we took part in the evacuation campaign,” said Jamuna Awale, a local resident.
In view of potential clash between the slum dwellers and evacuating teams, the government had deployed an additional contingent of security personnel. However, no untoward incidents were reported. The squatters were ready to leave the land quickly without much protest, said Awale. They have also not built any house on the encroached area. Newa, however, added that today’s evacuation bid was only the tip of the ice berg.
There could be several thousands squatters who have occupied the government land and needed relocation in the last three decades.
Meanwhile, with a view to clean the Bagmati, plans are afoot to constrict a four-kilometre-long drainage on both sides of the river. The proposed drainage, whose feasibility study had just been concluded, will stretch from Tinkune to Shankhamul bridge. “This is the beginning of the Bagmati sanitation campaign,” said Basnet, adding, “We have developed the master plan for the development of the Bagmati corridor.” As plans go, the corridor
will be fenced and trees planted. The master
plan, according to the committee, would be executed in three phases— the first being the development of the Sundarijal to Gokarna section of the corridor; second Gokarna to Minbhavan and the third; Minbhavan to Shankhamul.